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From The Asian Reporter, V14, #48 (November 23, 2004), page 16.

Japanese sex text is much more the latter than the former

The Japanese Art of Sex:

How to Tease, Seduce & Pleasure the Samurai in Your Bedroom

By Jina Bacarr

Stone Bridge Press, 2004

Paperback, 256 pages, $16.95

By Oscar Johnson

Jina Bacarrís The Japanese Art of Sex conjures adages as well as images. One of which is the sage saying that "sex is like pizza: when itís good itís good and when itís bad itís still pretty good." The same can be said of such books as this.

Written by a woman for women, The Japanese Art of Sex flirts with beauty and body-confidence tips, teases with erotic meditation and "mood" enhancers, and gets down ó and "dirty" ó to the nitty-gritty with "the art of play" and games for the naked. After the "Seeding the Flower and Twirling the Stem" chapter, readers might be inclined to light up or roll over and nap.

This book is what it is: The stereotypical middle-aged Western womanís how-to for spicing up life in the bedroom, "Japanese" style. In that respect, it may very well serve its purpose. The Japanese Art of Sex offers a variety of tips: skin care and seaweed packs, meditation and masturbation, foreplay to orgasm ó and more.

With a sort of sultry Sarah- Jessica-Parker-meets-Dr.-Ruth tone, Bacarr gives the how, where, when, and why with pragmatic, though not detailed, safety guidelines. She leaves no stone unturned (and there are some she might have done well to leave alone) in introducing the uninitiated to advice from benign bedroom decor to testing the waters of popular fetishes. All set against a backdrop of culturally appropriated exotic Japaneseness.

That said, make no mistake ó as modern and free-spirited as this book is, it is not for the gender sensitive or politically correct. Not the least of Bacarrís offenses is her unabashed exoticizing of Japanese culture to sell a book. And in her quest to eroticize everything she can tease out of Japanese history, culture, literature, and modern life to accomplish her aim, she makes no bones about romanticizing sexist stereotypes to help "pleasure the samurai in your bedroom."

But aside from its stated goal, the book does offer some interesting glimpses of Japanís sex life. Reasonably well-sourced, it draws on racy Japanese classics such as The Tales of Genji, The Pillow Book, and Fukujusoís Sixteen Erotic Tales. It even gives second- or thirdhand peeps into the alleged goings on in some of Japanís sordid sex clubs and other adult establishments known for barring foreign would-be patrons.

The Japanese Art of Sex also purports to outline the amorous roles of women, from eighth- to 12th-century court ladies and geisha to modern bar hostesses and soapland girls ó albeit with an eye more for legitimizing its title than conveying realities.

Much of the book seems no different from the typical U.S. sex text with wispy New-Age tones egging on readers to explore uncharted waters with open minds. The author claims ó and exhibits ó firsthand knowledge of Japan and things Japanese. But the work comes across more like the oft-used sex-guide template with a Japanese veneer than as original or revealing of anything uniquely Japanese.

This, in fact, may be the bookís biggest weakness. Not that it falls short of its expressed goal, but that in achieving that goal it may misrepresent some of the aspects of Japanese history, culture, and lifestyles on which it draws.

But anyone with the slightest hankering for a slice of ó uh ... pizza ó will likely find that while The Japanese Art of Sex does not serve up gourmet, itís likely to meet the tastes of many a reader, at least for a chapter or two.

To buy me, visit these retailers:

Powell's Books

  Amazon