My Tour de Tokyo: Souvenirs of Shame

We’re just a bunch of fat pigs, drowning in a sea of vulgarity. I just returned from Tokyo, where I spent much of the time comparing us boorish Manhattanites to my genteel hosts. My conclusion? Even though the Japanese sell schoolgirls’ panties out of street-corner vending machines, we are ultimately much bigger pigs.

We have no shame: When an American heiress makes a porno flick there are virtually no repercussions other than a dramatic increase in the number of party invitations and endorsement deals she receives. If a Japanese heiress even broke wind in public, she would quietly hang herself.

Regarding obesity: We are fat. They are not. Nobody is overweight in Japan. Even the sumo wrestlers are only about half the size of the average American teen. Starbucks may have arrived in Japan, but the super-sized containers have not: Their venti cups are the same size as our water-cooler Dixie cups.

This is not to say that I am in love with all things Japanese. My trip was not without its frustrations. The most disturbing thing about the indigenous population is their newfound height. Prior to traveling to Tokyo, I was gleefully anticipating the moment when I, a circus midget by American standards, would walk onto a crowded street and tower over everyone. Unfortunately, postwar nutrition has created a generation of venti Japanese. To my extreme consternation, I found that I was shorter than most of the men and only taller than some of the women. Grrrr!

Regarding cheesy heiresses: Remember those much-written-about Shibuya girls from a couple of years back? They had cartoonish orange faces, raccoon eyes, surfer hair and wore Hawaiian muumuus and ultra-high platform shoes? Well, you may be interested to know that they have abandoned this look and are enjoying a flirtation with the Hilton aesthetic, i.e., bleached hair and skanky porno-chic dresses. The official name for this new look is “Horrywood Cerebrity.”

The reasons for my trend-spotting trip—or “leasons for my tlend-spotting tlip”—were twofold: First was the opening of the new Barneys store in the swanky Ginza neighborhood. (The party was deliciously serene, if a little stiff, due to the total absence of screeching, clipboard-wielding P.R. girls with headsets and ironed hair.) The second reason was the Asian launch of my most recent book, Wacky Chicks (Simon & Schuster), pronounced ” Uwackie Uchickazuh” by the Japanese (at which fatty Western-style hors d’oeuvres were served in my honor; I was unable to indulge due to my predisposition toward high cholesterol).

Despite the pre-feminist passivity demonstrated by the local ladies, there seemed to be no lack of enthusiasm for the rule-breaking termagants profiled in Wacky Chicks. The book-signing was a sellout: A long line of excited gals, one or two of whom were thankfully shorter than me, waited patiently to buy a book and offer me a slightly creepy, moist, trembling hand. As I stared into their innocent porcelain faces, I wondered how they would react when they got to the part about Brigid Berlin taking a poo next to her bed at Swiss finishing school, or Amy Sedaris’ claim that she resides at the intersection of Cocksucker (Christopher) and Faggot (Bleecker).

Tokyo travel tips:

Do not miss the monumentally futuristic Prada store in Aoyama, possibly the most extreme piece of retail architecture in the history of frocks. This building resembles a chunky glass waffle and must have cost a fortune. Warning: As rumored, this store is bedeviled by a mysterious and unfortunate all-pervading odor of cat urine.

I traveled business class on Continental ($4,476 round trip), which I thoroughly recommend because of the movies: Supersize Me was unspooling, much to the delight of the unself-consciously tubby American passengers.

Be warned: There is no such thing as Tokyo-on-a-budget. A light snack at the hotel cost $280. I cannot imagine what it would cost to have someone come to my room and rip my stockings.

Sayonara!