When in Japan, my friends and I spent a day exploring Tokyo (my feet complained, but not the rest of me). I was surprised by the scope of public health here (and as I would soon find, the rest of Japan). This was perhaps the most surprising:
Yes. That cute little shop does say CONDOMANIA, and it does sell what you’re thinking. Everything has to be cute in Japan, it seems. This shop was in a pretty nice part of Tokyo, and although at first we were confused and put-off by the thought of such a shop so close to children’s toy shops and candy stores, our curiosity won the better of us. This was not, after all, a dingy shop with tinted windows in a narrow alley.
And what an interesting shop it was. Well, yes, it mostly sold condom-related paraphernalia at what seemed like crazy-high prices, but the shop appeared dedicated to health and safety. They sold art of the late Keith Haring (AIDS activist who died in 1990 and was known for his graffiti in New York City) and the shop was full of brochures about safe sex and HIV. All but the headings were in Japanese of course, but I was amazed at the easy access of information, and the way health was being promoted in this strange way.
It may be a little out there, and possibly considered controversial by some, but I do think that this was a genius way of addressing a major health problem. I have always known Asian cultures to be the epitome of conservative, and yet they can utilise a condom shop for spreading information about HIV.
I suppose I don’t know how elders and parents feel about this being in the faces of their young children, and I don’t know how I would feel about it if I had kids. But our hospitals are so overwhelmed by this pandemic that if there are health promotion campaigns that can work, we must use it!
So my only question is this: how has the Western world, with its hyped-up culture of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll”, not thought of something as simple as this? Or have they, and I just don’t know about it?