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An American Bodybuilder in Japan

hawkmoon

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An American Bodybuilder in Japan

Some of you know my story, but I have gotten several PMs here since my “return” and thought I’d write up a post on what my experiences have been like.

I’ll start at the beginning of this particular Japan tenure, but skip over a lot of stuff. In 2007 I was looking for an opportunity to work in Japan as my daughter being ½ Japanese (ex wife a Japanese national) I thought it would be nice for her to have some time to experience that side of her heritage. I ended up getting a job in an international finance firm at their Tokyo office. This was right before the subprime crash. I can't imagine someone being hired sight-unseen now for such a position. Things have changed.

I had lived in Japan before and knew it would be great, especially with a solid job. Almost zero crime, no violence, no politics or religion, great healthcare (my daughter has issues) and all-around cleanliness, order, and good manners. Downside is earthquakes and nasty neighbors in China and NK, but overall life is worry-free. My bodybuilding was maintenance, so I wasn’t worried at the time about gyms, etc.

We packed our stuff and moved to my ex’s home in Kamakura to get started. This marriage exploded about a year later, but I’ll get into that later if asked.I sold our home in Massachusetts a month later for a tidy profit. I was set to start work a week after landing so I went up to Tokyo to check things out and fortunately found my gym within one train stop from the office. I thought myself very lucky.

Being a bodybuilder at heart, finding a gym was paramount, and food of course was a concern. At first food wasn’t ideal; there were no good sources and I was living with my in-laws so I could not just buy/cook as I wanted. I had been using prohormones on and off at this time and brought them with me to Japan.

Around this time I was using Epistaine and noticed I started getting a little gyno. Blood work showed my test was very low (after being off a while). Later tests showed it being still low, so I sought self TRT. I hadn’t seen anabolics in many, many years. It was a bit later that I found how easy it was to get gear in Japan as it isn’t controlled. 12 years later, I still have the same “source”. Our families are friends and we greatly enjoy each other’s company when they come back and visit Japan.

Things being easy to access was a great comfort, as legal risk was part of why I stopped use in 1991 or so. Around this time I separated from my ex and moved to Tokyo. I was now very close to the gym and work and had access to a great market that supplies restaurants with meats and other foods. Being effectively single and still mid-30s, I decided to see what I could do and ramped up the training, food, and drugs. Results were pretty good, especially after I tried GH.

My gym was /is a great place. Spotlessly clean with really nice staff. I befriended the owner who lived in the US for a while and has his own muscle beach stories. I’m often the center of attention at the gym when I take the time to notice. The place is full of Japanese celebrities, rich people, pro athletes (including Sumo), upper-end office workers, and Yakuza. Some funny stories there...

In 2008-09 I spent my weekend evenings out with a friend who owned several clubs in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. I don’t drink, but I had all the Redbulls I would want to keep me awake. This friend took good care of me knowing I was going through a tough time and tried to entertain me. I met and befriended “hostess” girls, but wasn’t looking for a relationship. I got a LOT of attention in his clubs. People would gawk and comment (always favorably). I was often outright groped by people who were too drunk to even consider it was a bad idea. I’m good-natured and laughed with them. I later met my current wife by chance when she joined our firm and happily left the nightclub life.

Everywhere I went I would get comments in Japanese. I understood, but didn’t let on. My daughter and current wife are always entertained. My daughter often is mystified, especially when she catches a gay guy looking at me. I just laugh.

One of the nicest things is I have never, ever received a negative comment, either in public, or in the office. People are amazed/amused and I am very positive and easy to laugh about things. One of my favorite situations is when on the train a girl will be looking at me, and then turn to her boyfriend and start poking and pinching him, teasing him while trying to find some muscle.

I could go on, but I’d rather try to answer questions anyone has in the thread and write for you guys, not myself.
 

thethinker48

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What is the biggest thing about japanese culture that shocked you once you started living there? (positive or negative)

Can you expand on the anabolic situation down there (with discretion) ?

P.S- I think the reason you get no negative attention there is probably because you are a nice guy, who laughs more than he scowls. Muscles just lean you more towards the demeanor you have in life; positive = more positive, douche= mega douche
 

hawkmoon

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What is the biggest thing about japanese culture that shocked you once you started living there? (positive or negative)

Negative: The extent to which the society is male dominated. Not long ago there was an expression for 25+ year old female office workers (called "office ladies", or OL).
If you were over 25 and unmarried, your were a "Christmas Cake". IE, after the 25th, no one wants you. Being American, I did not get the reference right away. They also discriminate on hiring based on sex/age, even thought it is illegal.
I was raised by a single mom who worked her way up in banking, so I can't stand this personally.

Also, the legal system is messed up. There is no presumption of innocence - ask Carlos Ghosn.

Positive: Daily life is actually more free in many ways. The government doesn't intrude.
Political Correctness also doesn't really exist. You can say someone is fat without getting sued.
Office environment adheres to Western values though, so they are far more sensitive.


Can you expand on the anabolic situation down there (with discretion) ?

There are several domestic websites where you can buy anabolics, GH, PCT, pins, whatever.
It's I think similar to the UK, but people are so unaware of anabolics that it is on no one's radar.
I use probably the top source in the country who caters to bodybuilders. I get my stuff in 3 days from my friendly postman.

There is no domestic UG, but mostly from HK and other Asian areas.
When I buy my asthma medicine from a more general site, etc I can also buy anavar, a50s, dbol, whatever tabs easily.
This is a JP website that imports regionally. You can buy injectibles too, but they can get held up in customs as needles are hard to come by (police see them as used for hard drugs).

P.S- I think the reason you get no negative attention there is probably because you are a nice guy, who laughs more than he scowls. Muscles just lean you more towards the demeanor you have in life; positive = more positive, douche= mega douche

Thank you for that.
Partly true I suppose. But when people comment on the train, at Disney with my daughter, etc they often think I can't understand them so I hear what they say behind me, nearby, etc. Always in the "whoa" area.
 

alfresco

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Very interesting.

You are a good person Matt, thanks for sharing.

As they 'now you know the rest of the story' ;)

And as long as you are in the mood for sharing, do tell about your bodybuilding
experiences back here the US of A. How you got started, your training . . . what
worked what didn't, contest prep, how well you did competing and what advise
would you give somebody starting out today.

I have always thought you had what it took to go all the way or damn close to it.

Thank you.
 

hawkmoon

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Very interesting.

You are a good person Matt, thanks for sharing.

As they 'now you know the rest of the story' ;)

And as long as you are in the mood for sharing, do tell about your bodybuilding
experiences back here the US of A. How you got started, your training . . . what
worked what didn't, contest prep, how well you did competing and what advise
would you give somebody starting out today.

I have always thought you had what it took to go all the way or damn close to it.

Thank you.


Thanks Ron. I'll write a bit on it.
 

tripleOT

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Thanks for sharing. I’ve often wondered what your story was but did not want to ask and bother you.

Do you speak Japanese fluently? Does your wife speak English? I assume your daughter speaks both languages?

very interesting story, thanks.
 

xpoc

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good read thanks
 

Drakee

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whats your height, weight, and bf? trying to see if people would be impressed by me in Japan lol

Also how difficult is it for an American to meet woman to date there?
 

hawkmoon

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Thanks Ron. I'll write a bit on it.

I picked up my dad's weights at about 14-15.
My parents divorced when I was four, but my dad left a bench and some weight in the basement.
I had a great local library in my home town and read all Bob Kennedy's old books, Platz, Arnold, Colombu, Arthur Jones, etc.
This gave me a good start. I progressed to building a small gym in my barn (I grew up in a New England Farmhouse).
The football and wrestling coaches noticed me, and tried to get me to join, but I really had no interest.

The football coach did own a gym in my downtown and I went there soon enough.
This is when I started to find my stride. I was accused many times of "juicing" but I had no idea what they were talking about. I was 16.

I went to university a few months before my 18th birthday and found a great gym on the way, Universe in North Quincy, MA.
It was hardcore, with both BB and powerlifting competitors. I progressed further. The owners pulled me aside and said I should compete.
I trained six days a week in a three day split, pyramiding all my lifts.

I had no coach or mentor, so did it on my own. I basically just starved myself and had no idea of macros or anything. Just knew I needed some protein.
I entered the teenage Mass State Drug-Free as the only teenager and ended up I think 5th in middleweights.
The show was polygraph tested, which I thought was really neat at the time ;)

I noticed some of my competitors had bad acne, especially on their backs...I didn't know why at the time...

My gym owner and other senior guys broke the news to me about anabolics. I was shocked, but was already in love with bodybuilding, so I didn't mind dipping into the dark side. I had a friend from my hardcore punk days in Boston who was a very large bodybuilder, he had offered before and now I took him up on a connection offer. I was hooked up with probably the biggest source in Massachusetts and things changed. 8 weeks on Searle and var and Sostenon 250 and I added 25+ pounds.
I was 19 this year and was about 210 offseason. I ended up selling some product here and there to cover my costs. Said dealer was a bit of a nutbag, but a well-known bodybuilder at the time and his girlfriend made a mean lasagna. I kept getting bigger and stronger and suprised myself sometimes.

I did the New England's and won my class, an dlost overall teen to Donnie DeMayo (Pauls' brother). I heard form a good mutual friend that Paul, who judged that day, had me beating his brother. I had the Teen Nationals a couple months later and did what I could to bring my legs up. DeMayo really impressed this on me. A lot of people were pushing me onward, seeing potential that I suppose I didn't recognize.

Around this time Lou Zwick had started contacting me, and was very helpful. He liked my build and look and wanted to get me to Cali. I was in school however and did not want to go - at least not then. I went to the Nationals and placed just out of the top six in a big LHW class. This was the year Aceto was in the Collegiate division I think. I didn't have the conditioning, and I knew it. My close fellow bodybuilders, all AAU champs always noted I had great genes for growing, but struggled to get lean. Lou called and checked up on me, encouraging me to keep going.

I kept in touch with Lou, who I ended up writing for on American Muscle Magazine. I did a Olympia series with Shawn Ray (based on weekly phone calls) and a segment for Penny Price, who was as sweet as could be. She sent me her most well know poster with lavish comments and autograph. My girlfriend was not happy!

I kept growing and was about 240 now, benched 425 for reps on the incline and did 8 rep working sets with 315 behind the neck.
I deep-squatted 685x6 on a 2x4 narrow stance, just like Paul. When I think about that strength now I just laugh inside.
While trying to grow into the men's class a few things happened. Hormones were criminalized and I felt I really wanted to progress in school, and already had eyes on Japan. Lou and I talked and he tried to get me to move to Cali again to work for him as a writer, but I again declined. He basically talked me out of competitive bodybuilding as a career at the same time. Probably blowing smoke, but he said I was too smart to go that way and would do much better in school and later career.

So I walked away from competing then, but never, ever stopped training. No more AAS after this until a 8 weeks stint in 1995 with 8 duratestons and a handful of hemogenin tabs. I put on 20lbs any looked silly in my suit when I got married that summer.

I was always conservative on drugs, though I did experiment with high-dose anadrol once.
I think injectables were 80% Deca and some Test, as well as some Primo. Parabolan and Winn V pre-contest. Some Equibold in there too, though I surrendered a bottle once to DeMayo who needed it for a show and couldn't get any in time.
My doses were probably very low thinking back now. Test was 200mg/ml and Deca was 100 I think. I never did more than 4cc a week that I can recall. I didn't enjoy it and didn't like to waste my money, as I didn't like selling. Of course all that stopped after the laws changed anyway.

Years later when I briefly came out of (my first) retirement competing in Japan once in 1997 Lou Zwick and I talked by email as Dennis Newman was going to be guest posing at my show. I had a good time hanging out with Dennis, but the show was a joke. I was much bigger and harder than anyone else but placed third. They screwed me an knew it, the competitors knew it, and the promoted begged me to come back. Hell no.

Shortly after I moved back the the USA in 1998 and it was ten years before I came back to Japan.
 

hawkmoon

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Thanks for sharing. I’ve often wondered what your story was but did not want to ask and bother you.

Do you speak Japanese fluently? Does your wife speak English? I assume your daughter speaks both languages?

very interesting story, thanks.


Thank you.

I am not fluent, but can certainly get by. Fluency in Japanese is quite hard and I don't consider someone fluent unless they show no accent.
My work environment is 80% English, which means my Japanese stagnates a bit.
My wife IS fluent in English and has lived around the world and can speak French and some Italian as well.

My daughter is perfectly bilingual (thank goodness!)
 

hawkmoon

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whats your height, weight, and bf? trying to see if people would be impressed by me in Japan lol

Also how difficult is it for an American to meet woman to date there?


I'm 172cm and 100kg right now with less than 10% BF.
Dating is the same everywhere I think. Some girls don't like foreign guys, and some love them.
 

hawkmoon

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Here are a couple pics from my Olympia Amateur qualifier last year. No good pics from the OA unfortunately.
In the back shot the guy on my right won, guy on the left is an Aussie - really good guy.
I was third overall and 15-25 years older than all my competitors. Not bad IMO.

lift_and_watch_3___B30lYNnH57h___.jpg
 

j4ever

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What was the immigration process like? Are you considered something like a permanent resident? Did they require certain things like, you had to have a certain amount of assets or you had to show that you would be employed? No im not thinking of moving there just interested, boring i know, lol, but would really like to visit some day.
 

lookslikesausage

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what is the equipment like in Japanese gyms? all the same bullshit like most gyms have here in the States? IMO gyms are overrun with Life Fitness and Hammer Strength crap. You don't find the good American stuff in many gyms (Prime, Arsenal, etc.). Are there any great Japanese equipment companies that stand out in your mind?

When you first started getting into the gear scene were anti-estrogen drugs yet available? If not, was surgery the only option?

Are most youngish native Japanese women (under 40) open to casual sex or is it taboo in their culture? What about abortion? In the nightclubs, what does the drug scene look like? Is coke and E popular in clubs?

What is the cost of lean protein there in comparison to the States? are there many fuckheads in your gym who leave weights on the machines like here in the US?
 

hawkmoon

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What was the immigration process like? Are you considered something like a permanent resident? Did they require certain things like, you had to have a certain amount of assets or you had to show that you would be employed? No im not thinking of moving there just interested, boring i know, lol, but would really like to visit some day.


Hi,

I came to Japan on a spouse visa as my ex is Japanese.
There was a small amount of paperwork, but not bad at all.
No income requirement for a spouse visa. She was basically responsible for me :D

In 2009 I got my permanent residency, basically a Japan Green Card.
I got this right before my divorce because I did not want to worry about having to exit Japan and leave my daughter behind.
My ex has custody and in Japan there is no shared custody.

I'd highly recommend visiting Japan if you can.
It's a great country with great people and is incredibly easy to navigate due to the amazing public transit systems.
You can buy a Japan Rail Pass that will let you go damn near anywhere for a very reasonable sum.
 

hawkmoon

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what is the equipment like in Japanese gyms? all the same bullshit like most gyms have here in the States? IMO gyms are overrun with Life Fitness and Hammer Strength crap. You don't find the good American stuff in many gyms (Prime, Arsenal, etc.). Are there any great Japanese equipment companies that stand out in your mind?

When you first started getting into the gear scene were anti-estrogen drugs yet available? If not, was surgery the only option?

Are most youngish native Japanese women (under 40) open to casual sex or is it taboo in their culture? What about abortion? In the nightclubs, what does the drug scene look like? Is coke and E popular in clubs?

What is the cost of lean protein there in comparison to the States? are there many fuckheads in your gym who leave weights on the machines like here in the US?


Much of the same equipment, but probably not the hardcore stuff. Plenty of Hammer, Icarian, LifeFitness, etc.
My gym is here: https://www.totalworkout.jp/roppongi/. Considered an expensive place.

When I first got into gear it was 1989. There were no AIs yet, only nolva and it was harder to get.
Most guys got surgery, but we also avoided Test and other estrogenic drugs.

Casual sex is not a big deal to most women. You aren't a boyfriend if you haven't slept together.
Like every culture some people are conservative, and maybe in rural areas it is more strict, but not in Tokyo.
Plenty of girls go looking for fun. I have met many.

Abortion is a non-issue here. People would be amazed at the controversy in the US.

Crystal is the big bad drug here, mostly coming in form North Korea and sold by Yakuza. No coke that I know of.
Japanese police are VERY strict on hard drugs, even weed. I never indulged, so not an issue for me.

I go to a place named "Niku no Hanamasa" I get grass-fed Aussie beef for about $1.60 USD per 100g.
Skinless chicken breasts are about 60c per 100g. Canadian pork is even cheaper.
I think these prices are very good. Fish is surprisingly costly though.

My gym is very clean and weight are always cleaned up. Trainers run around and make sure everything is sorted 100%. Put the pins at zero, straighten the barbel spring collars, reset the smith machines, etc. When I trained in the morning long ago they would load/unload the leg press for me ;)
 

Gators

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One of my daughters is teaching English in Izumo, after doing the same in Kamatsu for a year, she loves it, and she is planning on marrying a very nice, quiet Japanese fella, we like him a lot, he treats her VERY well. He’d better, raised a strong, independent lady, she’d kick many much larger mens ass! Very interesting, he plans to take her (and mine) last name when they move here, and get married, as his last same sounds a lot like the F word, so our last name will carry on, as I'm the last one.

great story btw!
 

USMuscle9403

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Awesome! Funny enough, whenever I come across any of your posts, the first thought that crosses my mind is wondering what it's like as an American living there. I'd love to visit there one day.

Thanks for this thread!
 

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