I hadn't mentioned it to any of the teachers at the junior high school because I didn't want to get the kids into any unnecessary trouble, but today was the last I could handle of hearing the question posed to me in hallways as I passed by groups of boys in a huddle: "Chris sensei! Chris sensei! Do you like pornography?"
"Nani?" I always say, acting as if I've never heard that word before in my life. "What did you say?" Then I spend ten minutes each time trying to figure out how to ask the kids where they've learned that word.
Today I was eating lunch when two boys across from me looked up from their bowls of wonton soup and said, "Pornography? You like?" I couldn't take it anymore. I finally went to Ms. Kiuchi during the next period when we teach with Ms. Ohama together and said, "Ms. Kiuchi, do you know the kids know the word pornography and won't stop asking me if I like it? It's been happening for the past two weeks now."
One of the 3rd grade boys (9th grade in America) overheard me telling her this, and started to snicker. (Yuta is his name, and he's really good at english, likes to throw words like "caprice" into english poems he writes and always tells me he's a genius). Ms. Kiuchi wasn't phased by his snicker but she did grin and said, "It's okay. In our country it's okay..." she trailed off, searching for the words to say, and in that space of time I filled in a variety of possibilities. In this country they let little kids buy porn mags, in this country it's okay for kids to *pose* for pornography, in this country....what, Ms. Kiuchi? What??
"In this country, Pornography is a musical band the kids listen to, especially boys."
And then Yuta cracks up laughing. And then I laughed too. And then all the kids in the classroom laughed because I laughed, not that they knew what I was laughing about.
At least now I don't feel like I'm being accosted by small asian boys in the backstreets of Tokyo, tugging on my sleeve and saying, "Hey, you like girls? You like pornography? I get for you." These are "good" rural-ish kids in Edosaki. My heart would have been broken if they were hussling!