Eddie’s Wild Ride in Japan

  My first opportunity to see the Japanese landscape came when Dad assigned his office manager, a thirty-year-old petty officer first class, to drive Chip and me to the ancient city of Kamakura. When we arrived at the Yokosuka Naval Base, we lived in a tin Quonset hut that looked like an upside down Navy gray “U.” Eddie drove up in a shiny black limousine in his dark navy blue uniform and white sailor cap. “What are ya waiting for boys? Get in!” He opened the door and tossed his cap on the floor, “I have lots of God damn good stuff to tell 'ya. I give a talk to all incoming sailors.” With thick black hair in a short crew cut, red face from too much alcohol, he had the energy of a Labrador retriever. “Your Dad wants me to take you to see the great house he got for ‘ya in Kamakura and orient 'ya to Japan, so sit back and I’ll tell 'ya all you need to know about the Japs and this great fucking country.” He revved the engine and sped to the security gate manned by Marines in white cap, light blue trousers with red stripe down the middle, dark blue dress jacket with white webbed belt, gun in holster, and white leggings leading to spit-shined black shoes.    “Jesus H. Christ, fucking “gyreenes” are tight-ass machines,” he whispered as he quickly put his cap on. Chip and I chortled at how Eddie made fun of the steel-faced guards. He rolled down the window, saluted them, and sped off as they were saluting back. We never heard anyone speak like Eddie, but we couldn’t help celebrate his audacity. That seemed to stoke his internal engine. Zooming through an intersection near the train station just outside the base, we came to a round-about with a Japanese traffic cop in grey uniform, white band across one arm, and grey cap. He directed traffic standing on a pedestal with one hand held up. “Come on you fucking idiot, don’t slow me down,” Eddie muttered, waved back, and continued without braking. A few minutes later we reached a business district with bars and small restaurants where he screeched to a halt near an attractive young Japanese woman. She had white make-up with dark red lipstick, cheeks powdered in two rouge circles, wore a red and white kimono, carried a light green parasol, shuffled in wooden clogs, and stepped down into the crosswalk. “Fuckin’ A. Look at the tits and ass on that honey. Ohwee, would I like to pork her. You boys got to get some Nippon tail while you’re here, nothin’ in the world like it.” I looked at Chip a bit bewildered by fast Eddie’s style, language, and persona and shook my head in disbelief wondering what he might do or say next to titillate us. “Konichi wa mamma san,” he said rolling down the window, and whistled at her. I recognized that as “Good afternoon, madam” from my two week Japanese course on the ship from San Francisco. She smiled as she strolled by. “What does it cost?” Chip asked. + “Only three dollars for a “short time.” You have to leave after fifteen minutes. A long time is one hour for ten. If you spend the night it’s only fifteen for most whores. God-damned if they’re not back on the street before you get dressed and hook four sailors in an hour. But watch out for the clap, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The whores are tested every week by Japanese health department, and quarantined if they’re infected. Wear a rubber if you ever visit a whorehouse, but they break sometimes.” + Soaking up this information, giggling at Eddie’s outrageousness while absorbing a swirling world of images of nude women, and disease, an alien world to me, I realized was available just outside the base. I had been isolated from people like Eddie. His perception of Japan differed so drastically from the cultural ambassadors who taught us conversational Japanese, customs, and places to see. As we pulled out of the city and started to ramble through the countryside dotted with rolling hills, and rice paddies everywhere, I noticed the houses were covered by thatched roofs, reeds and grasses woven tightly together to last thirty years. They stayed warm during the winter and cool in the summer by natural insulation. Near a farm, a nasty odor entered the car, as if I from a sewer. “What’s that awful smell?”I asked. “See that Goddam wooden truck ahead of us. That’s a fuckin’ honey bucket truck. They go through the town picking up everyone’s shit in buckets, and pour the stinking crap into a bin in the middle. When it’s shitfull, they take it to a farmer to spread the reeking Jap poop on his crops. The guy who dips a bucket into that shit and spreads it on the farmer’s crop is the lowest human being in the world. That’s why he’s known as a ‘Dip Shit.’ To make a whore laugh I’ll ask her why Jap farmers use shit on their strawberries. She’ll say, it makes them taste good and grow big. I’ll tell her, we use cream and sugar back in the States. HAHAHA,” he whooped. We both chuckled, goading him on. He had two teenage boys under his spell. “Hey there’s Mount Fuji coming into view,” he said pointing ahead. (Click on this photo to zoom) A magnificent view of Fujiyama spread before us at railroad tracks where Eddie stopped. The grandeous snow-covered cone sparkled bright white with brownish-red lava rocks covering the lower half below an azure sky like a mammoth vanilla ice cream sundae sprinkled with granulated chocolate and cinnamon. A narrow wisp of smoke wound up through the sky from the top of the cone as if a dragon roamed inside. Sparse foliage showed on Fujisan from my angle. “Is the volcano still active?”I asked. “Hell yes, but Fuji hasn’t erupted for years. You can see it every day unless it’s covered with clouds. You’ll have to climb it with the Yokosuka Base teenage club. You won’t believe this, but at the base of the mountain is the Hakone resort. Japanese take their Goddam baths together in public bath houses and resorts fuckin’ nude? If you go to Hakone, you’ll be swimming with naked sexy babes you can gawk at all day as they keep coming in showing off their tits and ass. Did you know Japanese men, women, boys, and girls all use the same fuckin’ bathrooms in Japan? Jesus, this place is fuckin’ heaven if you know where to go. If you want to you can find fuckin’ anything here, cheap, and better than in the states.” We smiled and listened intently to his fascinating descriptions to eager, and fertile, minds. “Eddie, do you eat raw fish? Chip asked.   “Hell yes. Japanese sushi is Goddamn delicious. They wrap their fuckin’ tasty seaweed around raw tuna, and a ball of rice, dip it in soy sauce with some Jesus Christ powerful horseradish called wasabi, and you down it with some fuckin’ A--hot sake. Have your Dad take you out to a Geisha house, eat some sushi, and ask him to give you some sake. He Goddamn loves it. The fuckin’ Geishas will dance for you, play music, wear colorful silk kimonos, sing, and feed you a motherfuckin’ feast.” “Are Geisha’s whores?” Chip asked. “Not now, but they sure fuckin’ used to be. But if you wanted a Goddam whore to dress up like a Geisha, she probably would be fuckin’ glad to, and give you a treat for the right price. They entertain fuckin’ business men, sing traditional Japanese songs, and play music on a three string guitar called a shamisen.” Finally we arrived at the house Dad arranged for us not far from a beach in Kamakura. Eddie dropped us off at the door. Dad appeared in his navy blue officer’s uniform, with white cap, and gold “scrambled eggs” on his visor signifying he had the rank of a commander. “Hi Captain, I brought your boys here in the limo.” Dad at Yokosuka Naval base Japan 1955 (click to zoom photo) “Hope you gave my sons the golden tour, Eddie.” “Sure did, Captain. They learned all about sushi, Geishas, and Japan straight from the horse’s mouth. Sayonara Captain, I have to return the limo now.” “Are Geisha’s just entertainers?” Chip asked Dad. “Well, looks like Eddie told you some of his famous stories. I knew he would entertain you. A long time ago the wealthy Japanese men used courtesans for sexual enjoyment. Walled-in pleasure quarters were allowed, but outside of them, prostitution was illegal. Women called "Oiran" came before the Geisha. They were both an actress and a prostitute, performed erotic dances, and became the early form of Kabuki Theater. But for a long time Geisha’s entertained and no sex was involved.” Eddie had shown me a wild slice of life in Japan. His language shook me, and made me realize the ugly American lived in the Far East. Having spent fourteen days on a ship studying Japanese culture before Eddie’s car trip, I recoiled at his attitudes about an ancient culture I had learned to honor, even against my early hatred of the Japanese for the atrocities they inflicted on helpless prisoners in the Philippines, China, and elsewhere. He seemed like a man with a fervent need to try to dominate the environment he occupied, but he was likeable, and comical. Men like Eddie had spirit, energy, and undying patriotism. They were perfectly molded to follow orders, which made the politicians and the military feel safer from our enemies than they should. Eddie opened a dark side of humanity I had never encountered that made me wonder what kind of a person I would be in two years when I left. Would I experience sex soon? Eddie cracked opened a part of my mind during our wild ride to Kamakura that had been locked shut.

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About Daniel C. Lavery

Dan’s writing shows his transformation from a child to an athlete and a Duke pre-ministerial student where he began to question ancient and arbitrary dogma. He graduated from Annapolis, navigated a Navy jet, and a ship to Vietnam, fell in love, turned peace activist and a civil rights lawyer for Cesar Chavez's UFW. His memoir, "All the Difference," describes the experiences, some humorous and others deadly, that changed his consciousness from a pawn to an advocate crusading for justice against some of the most powerful forces in America.

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