A few days later Aimee and I were stretching after one of our runs in the park I took my shirt off to cool down and went about my stretching. This caused some curious and outright scandalized stares from passers- and runners-by. Thinking there may actually be something to this topless nonsense my kids were talking about, and not wanting to further scandalize anyone, I put my sweaty shirt back on.
The next day I asked one of my near-fluent adult students what the big deal was with taking my shirt off. He smiled and told me that if a policeman had seen me he would have come over and told me to put my shirt back on. I thought he was kidding but he assured me that it was illegal for men to walk around without a shirt on. I was stunned.
Let me tell you about some of the things I've seen in Japan that are far more scandalous than me running with my shirt off:
- a homeless man at the train station masturbating while staring at one of my American friends (I didn't actually see this but it came up one night while a bunch of us were out. I found this absolutely hilarious and chastised her relentlessly for not taking a photo of the guy. Brief aside: the situation reminded me of that episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia where the homeless guy masturbating in the alley stares at Dee.)
- more skirts-that-are-short-enough-to-be-panties than you'd see at a Victoria's Secret runway show
- Japanese men looking at magazine porn while riding the subway
- Japanese men looking at manga porn while riding the subway
- Japanese men looking at internet porn on their phones while riding the subway
- Japanese men looking at porn videos on their iPods while riding the subway