I've seen a lot of weird things in Japan. I mean, you don't have to look far to find the weird side of Japan — it's half of all the media reports on Japan anyway. The Naked Man Festival, the peeing boy truck, the tanuki statues, it's a long list.
But this thing I saw in Beppu totally takes the cake. I mean, this was just so ... out there.
While touring the jigoku in Beppu, Joe and I stopped for lunch in a little ramen shop after leaving the hell with all the crocodiles. (This is, you'll recall, an area filled with tourist kitsch for the kids.) Emerging from the ramen shop, we were face to face with the suggestive mural pictured above.
Being a diligent reader of my Lonely Planet guidebook, I knew exactly what this was when I saw it: A sex museum. Yee-haw.
I figured it would be a lot of erotic paintings, sculptures and sexual artifacts and whatnot. Probably some portable penis shrines of the sort that get paraded around during Japanese fertility festivals. Whatever. But I was not prepared for what I would see inside. Oh, Japan, I should not underestimate you.
Joe and I forked over 700 yen each to the old woman manning the front counter, a large glass case filled with a wide variety of sex toys. No big surprise there. I was quite tickled by some of the merchandise, in fact.
Walking further in, we encountered some glass cases filled with wooden statues of phalluses and ceramic knick knacks "doing it."
Not so weird yet right? Yeah somewhat strange, but this IS a sex museum after all, so what did we expect? Uh... Not this:
Taxidermic zebras making love against the back wall. This is where the tour takes a depraved turn. Carrying through the whole place were the squeaks and moans of a an over-excited Japanese girl in a porno playing in a theater off beyond the zebras. Appropriate background accompaniment, I suppose eh, sets the mood. Past more photographs of animals having sex, we came to this:
An animatronic orgy involving Snow White and the seven dwarfs, as well as Prince Charming and the Queen. You cannot make stuff like this up. That's Dopey in the left foreground playing with a large pair of knickers and other dwarfs looking on as one of them pleases Snow White, bare butt high in the air.
Yes, that's Grumpy on the right taking matters into his own hands, so to speak. Yes, the Queen has a dick for a nose. The worst part: when you hit a button on the outside of the exhibit, all of the characters would move. Dopey waved the underwear up and down, Grumpy flogged the dolphin, the others ducked around maneuvering for a good view of the action.
What can I say? HOLY CRAP.
The second story had more provocative interactive wax figures. One was a woman wearing a skirt that would blow up to reveal everything underneath when you hit a button. There was one of those movable claw carnival games filled with sex toys. And there was even an exhibit where you had to peek in through a small opening and hit a button. When I hit the button, a red light came on to reveal a topless woman sitting in her underwear and a split second later a sudden stream of water shot out from her underwear to hit the glass in front of my face. Made me jump.
Ah, Japan. Always an adventure.