Jack’s Naughty Bits: Ryu Murakami, Almost Transparent Blue

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Jack's Naughty Bits

A number of the pieces in the Sex in Japan issue have mentioned what we Westerners (or at least we Americans) tend to think about when we think about sex in Japan; it’s embarrassing to list: lotus-eyed geishas, soiled-schoolgirl-panty dispensers and comic book rapes of big-eyed girl naifs. The most familiar cultural products do little to complicate the situation: perhaps we think of Mishima and his narcissistic, suicidal decadence; perhaps Toshiro Mifune’s bumbling rape of the noblewoman in Rashomon. We might even draw our images from less overtly sexual Japanese icons: samurai rising coldly above the body, or sumo wrestlers drawing their testicles into themselves for protection. The sum total of these musings makes it seem as if sex in Japan is vastly different from the sweaty, animal humping that we in the West are familiar with. In Japan, we assume, sex is either extremely clean or fantastically filthy — best encapsulated by the censoring of pubic hair on one side, the pedophilia on the other (or the same?).


Last week I wanted to feature a counterexample to these clichés. Japan’s great classic, The Tale of Genji, though written in the eleventh century, contains a lot of “conventional” sex plus stories of young men with old women (as in the excerpt), of boy/boy love, of man/boy love, of infidelity, of promiscuity and of the real thing. This week I want to present another counterexample to the stereotypes, Ryu Murakami’s 1970s avant-garde novel Almost Transparent Blue.


Murakami’s Japan is unrecognizable amid Western pop images of the land of the rising sun. Nor does he attempt to veil the book’s autobiographical elements: the orgiastic, multiracial, multicultural, bisexual violence he catalogues demands to be included in our understanding of “Tokyo decadence.” Almost Transparent Blue was given to me by a friend some years ago as one of the few examples she knew of a successful literary description of group sex. It’s true what she was arguing: there’s almost nothing harder to describe than an orgy. Murakami not only manages to convey both the sexiness and sordidness of multi-partner mating, but expands and deepens our understanding of Japan in the process.

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From Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami

Translated by Nancy Andrew

In the middle of Oscar’s room, nearly a fistful of hashish smoldered in an incense burner, and like it or not, the spreading smoke entered one’s chest with every breath. In less than thirty seconds I was completely stoned. I felt as if my insides were oozing out through every pore, and other people’s sweat and breath were flowing in.


Especially the lower half of my body felt heavy and sore, as if sunk into thick mud, and my mouth itched to hold somebody’s prick and drain it. While we ate the fruit piled on plates and drank wine, the whole room was raped by heat. I wanted my skin peeled off. I wanted to take in the greased, shiny bodies of the black men and rock them inside of me. Cherry cheesecake, grapes in black hands, steaming boiled crab legs breaking with a snap, clear sweet pale purple American wine, pickles like dead men’s wart-covered fingers, bacon sandwiches like the mouths of women, salad dripping pink mayonnaise.


Bob’s huge cock was stuffed all the way into Kei’s mouth.


Ah’m jes’ gonna see who’s got the biggest. She crawled around on the rug like a dog and did the same for everyone.


Discovering that the largest belonged to a half-Japanese named Saburo, she took a cosmos flower from an empty vermouth bottle and stuck it in as a trophy.


Hey, Ryu, his is twice the size of the one ya got.


Saburo raised his head and let out an Indian yell, then Kei seized the cosmos flower between her teeth and pulled it out, jumped on the table, and shook her hips, like a Spanish dancer. Flashing blue strobe lights circled the ceiling. The music was a luxuriant samba by Luiz Bon Fa. Kei shook her body violently, hot after seeing the wetness on the flower.


Somebody do it to me, do it to me quick, Kei yelled in English, and I don’t know how many black arms reached out to throw her on the sofa and tear off her slip, the little pieces of black translucent cloth fluttering to the floor. Hey, just like butterflies, said Reiko, taking a piece of the cloth and spreading butter on Durham’s prick. After Bob yelled and thrust his hand into Kei’s crotch, the room filled with shrieks and shrill laughter.


Looking around the room, watching the twisting bodies of the three Japanese girls, I drank peppermint wine and munched crackers spread with honey.


The penises of the black men were so long they looked slender. Even fully erect, Durham’s bent fairly far as Reiko twisted it. His legs trembled and he shot off suddenly, and everyone laughed at the sight of his come wetting the middle of Reiko’s face. Reiko laughed too and blinked, but as she looked around for some tissue paper to wipe her face, Saburo easily picked her up. He pulled her legs open, just as if he were helping a little girl to piss, and lifted her onto his belly. His huge left hand gripping her head and his right pinning her ankles together, he held her so that all her weight hung on his cock. Reiko yelled, That hurts, and struck out with her hands, trying to pull away, but she couldn’t grab on to anything.


Her face was getting pale.


Saburo, moving and spreading his legs to get more friction on his cock, leaned back against the sofa until he was lying almost flat and began to rotate Reiko’s body, using her butt as a pivot.


On the first turn her entire body convulsed and she panicked. Her eyes bulging and her hands over her ears, she began to shriek like the heroine of a horror movie.


Saburo’s laugh was like an African war cry, as Reiko twisted her face and clawed at her chest. Squeal some more, he said in Japanese, and began to turn her body faster. Oscar, who’d been sucking Moko’s tits, Durham, who’d placed a cold towel on his wilted prick, Jackson, who wasn’t naked yet, Bob on top of Kei — all gazed at the revolving Reiko. God! Outasight! said Bob and Durham, and went over to help turn her around. Bob took her feet and Durham her head; both pressing hard on her butt, they began to spin her faster. Laughing, showing his white teeth, Saburo then put both hands behind his head and arched his body to drive his cock in even deeper. Reiko suddenly burst into loud sobs. She bit her own fingers and tore at her hair, because of the spinning her tears flew outward without reaching her cheeks. We laughed harder than ever. Kei waved a piece of bacon and drank wine, Moko buried her red fingernails in the huge butt of wiry-haired Oscar. Reiko’s toes were stretched back and quivering. Her cunt, rubbed hard, gaped red and shone with mucus. Saburo took deep breaths and slowed down the spinning, moving her in time with Luiz Bon Fa’s singing of “Black Orpheus.” I turned down the volume and sang along. Laughing all the time, Kei licked my toes while lying on her stomach on the rug. Reiko kept on crying, Durham’s semen dried on her face. With bloody tooth marks on his fingers, sometimes growling like a lion from the pit of his stomach — Ohh, I’m gonna bust, get this cunt off me, Saburo said in Japanese and thrust Reiko aside. Get away from me, pig! he yelled. Reiko grabbed at his legs as she fell forward; his come shot straight up and splattered and stayed on her back and buttocks. Reiko’s belly quivered and some urine leaked out. Kei — she’d been smearing her own tits with honey — hurriedly slid some newspaper under Reiko.


That’s jes’ awful, she said, slapped Reiko’s butt and laughed shrilly. Moving about the room, twisting our bodies, we took into ourselves the tongues and fingers and pricks of whoever we wanted.