I was riding the bus back from the train station the other afternoon. Since it was mid-day, it was mostly me and the local seniors running their errands, so I sat in the back row to keep the more-accessible forward seats free.
Across the aisle and a couple seats in front of me, a man was reading a newspaper, a common sight among the commuter crowd. However, something caught my attention as he opened up the broadsheet…
“That’s a naked lady,” I thought to myself.
Sure enough, right there in the middle of the newspaper was a large photo of a topless woman. A smaller picture near it featured a half-topless woman. Some scantly-clad women stared seductively from the series of ads across the bottom of the page. The folio across the top of the page read “スポーツ” or “Sports.”
Is this normal? In the U.S., if you see someone looking at this stuff in public, there’s an air of secrecy or at least an attempt to conceal, but this guy had the paper pulled open to the length of his wingspan. I looked at the man sitting behind him to see if he had a reaction. I saw him peek at the page a couple times, but otherwise he was unfazed.
At one point, the man pulled the classic broadsheet adjustment maneuver. The problem with the large newspaper format is that it requires two hands to hold it open. Occasionally, the middle will collapse and, since both hands are occupied, you have to use your head to push the center fold back to its intended position.
Of course, when he adjusted the paper with his head, his face was pushed right up against the naked lady. This happened more than once, which made me question the true intent of the head-adjustment maneuver.
He spent some time on this page, reading the articles I’m sure. Eventually he flipped to another page. I expected to see more naked ladies, but instead I saw a pop culture page, an actual sports page and some local and national news. This wasn’t a smut rag at all… this was the newspaper! The actual newspaper!
According to a few articles I’ve found, this has been part of the newspaper for decades. Articles back to the mid-80s talk about the problem of newspaper nudity on the trains during rush hour. More recent articles talk about the tabloid-like newspapers, targeted at the male commuter, featuring gossip, scandal and, of course, some naked ladies.