This entry is a related follow-up to the previous post and also earlier on my Kelly's Second Life (blog). It was sparked in part because I had recently given the issues involved some deep thought, but also because I'm fascinated by scenes depicted in these photos: guys being naked around other clothed (semi-naked), and nude guys - especially here in Japan, where I am a member of an extreme social/racial minority: foreign white gay married father among 125 million Japanese.
They're all wearing the traditional 'yukata' - thin, cotton kimono-like coat - with (hopefully) nothing on underneath. When the alcohol, good food and camaraderie take effect, they start dancing sometimes in the buff or provocatively draped, they sing (karaoke) or do stunts (handstands, etc), and then everybody heads down to the communal baths in the resorts - usually downstairs and many times facing outdoors - a river, wooded stream or even the ocean. Those who can no longer stand - due to the alcohol- might be helped by to their rooms, and fondled or groped or even much more (I only know what I would be doing if my buddy had passed out half naked). Back in the baths, the antics usually escalate - naked men are scrubbing each other's back, and there's the relentless teasing about the size of somebody's dick (often teased that he's too big), and sooner of later somebody passes out from heat exhaustion and too much liquor. A few erections may emerge from under the suds or hidden while squatting in the thigh-deeper hot pools of volcanic mineral waters.
All in all.. it's a great time for everyone.
Japanese men are horny a whole lot of the time and - in my opinion - the repressive nature of their society actually only deepens and heightens the sexual tensions for the average company worker. The stress of so many social and work responsibilities is sometimes almost too much to bear: 'fetch this' and 'do this now' is the only thing workers hear all day and half the night since they almost always work overtime for NO (or little) pay.
Without much recourse or with little leeway for arguing back, they submissively accept what they have to do, and go about it quietly (or at least only mutter out of earshot) or complain to their 'real' friends later.
The months of repressed desire also come bubbling to their consciousness - well.. at least it would in mind. Japanese men are generally dissuaded from 'flirting' in public - especially in an office situation. In fact, it use to be true that inter-office affairs and romantic relationships were so frowned upon that a worker risked getting transferred or - in the worse case - fired for dating a co-worker. It really is much less true nowadays because of the changes occurring in the society and in the economy. However, to some extent interoffice romance is discouraged. In that kind of environment, young men (ages 22- 35) before marriage didn't have many avenues for sexual or romantic release -except Japanese anime and pornography, and the nightly jerk-off once they crawled in to bed after midnight when they got home from a couple of 'mandatory' rounds a the local pub with the office gang - that often included their immediate superior (who was bucking for promotion or for leverage to support his pet projects).
The trips to the onsen (hot spring resorts) and the pub crawls after working later are rather like R & R for the troops in an army that's on dangerous duty. This was (and still is in some cases) the Civilian Military - (Japan Incorporated) because that was exactly how the typical Japanese factory or company used to operate. The new ones were the recruits -- called upon to have to endure all kinds of hardships (working 12-16 hour days for example was expected), so these 'trips' were probably a natural way to help relieve a lot of stress.. some of it under the belt line - so to speak.
There is no doubt in my mind that many a young company employee (male or perhaps more so the females) was 'defrocked' while on one of these onsen excursions organized by his (her) company or social group.
The situation has ameliorated to some extent. It is not easy to determine how much though. Japan still has the highest rates of suicide of any industrialized (first world) nation, and the numbers continue to swell. Over 30,000 per year end their lives and by estimates, nearly 4 times as many try to do so.
Japanese has a massive social networking infrastructure long, long before the days of the Internet - or Facebook. I could write a book on this and related topics... but - in reality - much of it is coming to an end. Today's young people do not want to participate to the same degree as before. The number of 'freeters' - young people who refuse to get a full-time job, who often still live at home on their parents' dime, and are content with having little money - but lots of freedom and tons of free time to work part-time at as many as 3 jobs, quit when they get tired of one, go out with friends to sing karaoke or drink or just hang out, and play PS3 games or windowshop all night long.