Monday, December 10, 2007

Lingerie University...

While out for dinner last night with the rumbunctious Lady and Dr. S, I learnt a terrible new secret about Japan. Lady S, you see, is a graduate of a certain famous and esteemed Japanese Women's University, which has existed since before the Showa era, and for all the time of its existence has never allowed a single chap to study there. Upon hearing that Lady S had spent 6 years on this esteemed campus, both the Delightful Miss E and myself were eager to find out what life is like studying in the absence of men.

Lady S: "It's fun!"

Sir S (i.e. me, there are too many S'sss in this story): "How so?"

Lady S (looking slightly embarrassed): "Well, I probably shouldn't reveal these things about my University's system, but you see... in summer we would ... study naked ... because it was so hot!"

Sir S: ....

The Delightful Miss E: ....

It turned out upon further investigation that Lady S was using a slightly incorrect version of the word "naked". In fact, in Summer the women at this Certain University would study in their underwear - not naked. Usually in camisoles, to be precise. About half the women in a class would dress this way, with the other half wearing normal clothes (which strangely, in Japanese summer, means more clothes than winter). The other half would strip off as soon as they arrived at the University, and gad about all day in their diaphanous underthings, studying English and Japanese and God only knows what other sinister secret arts...

... upon asking about this amusing scene - half the young scholars in jeans and t-shirts and multiple layers of overshirts, as young women are wont to wear here in summer, and lounging around with them a bevy of undershirted beauties - Lady S revealed that the University has a middle and a high school, naturally for girls only. Women who have graduated from these schools and entered the University have only ever studied in this way during summer, and so naturally choose to continue their choice of sensible attire in the cozy environs of their all-female college. The other women studied at school with boys, and so have no stomach for public lingerie-lounging. But was it really all female? I return to the conversation...

the Delightful Miss E: "What about the teachers - were they all women?"

Lady S (giggling at our foolish incomprehension of basic manners): "No! Of course not! But they were teachers, not men!"

Sir S: "So you lounged around in class in front of your teachers wearing just your underwear?"

Lady S: "Of course."

Sir S (to his eternal shame): "I'm getting a job there!"

Dr S (Lady S's husband): "Yes! Let's!"

I always knew women here are quite quick to turn public spaces into little slumber parties, constructing women's spaces in lecture theatres and cafes using those cute blankets they take with them, separating themselves from the boys and running around in dangerous gaggles of giggling gushiness. But I never realised they would take it to the extreme of attending lectures as if they were in their own bedroom... what an accursed vision of languid Oriental exoticism it presents to this jaded western eye, and oh! how terribly suspicious I am that the good Lady and Dr. S were pulling our legs ferociously...


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