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29 September 2014

Why is she popular?

I could never understand why a girl like her has become so popular internationally.

Her name is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

She is like Lady Gaga of Japan. Her sales points are very unique custumes.

But her singing is not music, just high tone voices.

 

Last Sunday I went to Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. There was a festival of concerts, fashion shows and exhibitions. Those were awesome but the biggest event was her concert in the final session.

DSC_2320.JPG

What surprised me was there were many audience from abroad including Europeans. Some wore custumes like she wore.

Can they understand and enjoy her singing?

It seems they did.

I can never follow what they are doing.

What is going on in this world? I felt like Alice in the wonderland.

04 March 2014

Very homosocial and divine experience in Fukushima

Not homosexual, homosocial! I joined naked men in thong festival in Hobara town, Date-city, Fukushima Prefecture.

You may feel familiar with Fukushima. Yes, that is in the same prefecture in which that severe nuclear accident occurred after the earthquake and tsunami hit the nuclear plants 3 years ago. Hobara is 50 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants.

On 2nd of March, I traveled to Fukushima from Tokyo. I brought my gaiger counter (radiation level measure).  This was my 5th trip to Fukushima since that disaster. My purpose this time was my third time participation in the festival as naked man in thong walking and running on the street. Other 2 times I joined radiation clean-up mission of the town.

What my gaiger counter indiated at the Tokyo Railway and Fukushima Station were very similar.

radiation

radiation, Fukushima

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 years ago, it was different. The below is what I took in Hobara Station July 2011, 4 months after the accident.

radiation, Fukuhshima

As you see, the counter needle went more right. It was over 0.1 Rem. More than 10 times of normal level.

However, it went down but still radiation level is higher than normal.

On that day I went to the gathering place near the Itsukushima Shrine in Hobara town to put on thong.

Fukushima

Over there around 70 men gathered to prepare for the participation. All guys became naked and bathed in hot water tub and after that they got themselves in thongs by local festival staff. Naked guys waiting in a room holding thongs in their hands. Talking about their bodies. Someone joked about that. (See the photos on this Japanese site which were taken 3 years ago) The thong contains cup to hold guys' private thing. After it was tightened by the staff, it was like being chained on your ass to hips. Kind of extra-ordinary feeling.

fundoshi, thong

It is called, Fundoshi or Mawashi in Japanese. Sumo wrestler wear that. In the old days, it was maily used as underwear or swimwear for all the men in Japan.

The festival is named, Tsutsuko-hiki Festival. It literally means pulling the Tsutsuko, divine rice in a big straw bag which weighs 800 kg. To wish for rich harvest and health of the localies. By pulling the bag from all the direction the rice turns out to be soft and sweet rice cake. If you eat that, you can stay healthy all year around.

I learned about this festival when I joined the radiation clean-up mission. Then I decided to join the festival every year to wish for betterment of the town's environment. Only God can change things better, I guess.

After dress-up of the thong guys had to wait for the main event for 1 to 2 hours. Until then other things such as performances or children sports event went on outside.

During that waiting period, guys chatted each other drinking sake (Japanese alchohol beverage) and eating foods in a small room. It is the very men's world. Talking about life, sex and etc. I hesitated to talk about nuclear things because it was too serious for the localies.

Guys were mostly from Fukushima. One young man was from Australia. He said that he now lives in Iwaki-city in Fukushima as translator. He said that he enjoyed wearing Fundoshi. That amazed me. Only one caucasion young man among 70 Japanese men. It was like the short novel I wrote on this blog. A foreign guy experiences very traditional thing which modern Japense do not any longer.

After an hour long talk, I found myself very drank. The main event started and I ran with other guys to the shrine. Guys transported Tsutsuko on the carrier shouting "Wasshoi." After transporting it on main streets of the town, we placed that on the road. Then we, guys pull and bang that on the road shouting.

Later we transported that back to the shrine and the Tsutsuko bag was cut to open. Rice cake in it was divided and handed to participants and gallery. I enjoyed this festival last year and two years ago. However, this time I got too drank to remember what exactly I did.

I just hope things are getting better in Fukushima, Japan and the whole world.    

 

 

03 January 2014

Dinner at LA TOUR D'ARGENT reminds me of what's happening in this world

Year of 2014 started. 

On one of new year's days I was invited to the dinner at Tokyo's most expensive French cuisine restaurant, LA TOUR D'ARGENT. It is located in The Hotel New Otani Tokyo, one of Japan's high class hotel chain.

The below photo is me in kimono at the waiting room of the restaurant. Only waiting room is as big as one ordinary restaurant. I was allowed to take a photo of me within waiting room area.

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

As you see the interior is georgeous. The dining room was georgeous as well. Mirror ceiling and chandeliers, candles. Tens of garsons in black uniform walking around to serve the same number of tables. That reminds me of the film "The Great Gatsby."

I had champagne, wine, and full course of very delicous meals. The speciality of the course was roast canard. Each guest was given a card of canard (duckling) he/she eats with its number.  

A sommelier selected a wine that fits the course menu. He said one of most expensive wine the restaurant has is Romane Conti, which one bottle costs 2500000 yen, 25 thousands US $ or Euro. Of course it was not what our group could afford. So I chose half bottle of wine which costed around 19000 yen.

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

I really enjoyed that. But at the same time I had to feel guilty about it. The dinner cost a lot. That one dinner can equal a few people's monthly food expense. In the world half of the population are starving. This luxurious dinner should cost equivalentl to annual income of some portion of the people in this world.

Moreover, the bottle of Romane Conti costs construction of a school that hundreds of children can attend in third world nations.  

Not just in third world but even in first world like Japan or America, such dinner is far exceeds the living standard of ordinary people. Last year I went to Okinawa. I visited the US Marine facilities. At the entrance of US Marine training camp, I saw the below sign that says "Hard training makes hard marine."

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

I saw the bus of trainees entering the gate. I heard those young people come from very poor family that could not afford college education for their children so they had no choice but to join the marine, what is called, Poverty Draft.

Meanwhile, very rich people like who can afford very expensive dinner like LA TOUR D'ARGENT exploits such young people to grow their wealth provoking wars all over the world. Kind of plutonomy. That is the social structure of today's world. I wrote a novel on this theme.

The bus transporting capitalism slaves to the military base reminds of one very historical place in Poland which I visited 6 years ago. The similar sign was posted at the gate of the facility.

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

ARBEIT MACHT FREI. (Labour makes you free.)

 

17 August 2013

Making a novel based on my alma mater's history

Last month I attended my alma mater's alumni event in Tokyo.

A lot of alumni living in Japan gathered at a restaurant exchanging memories and update information of the university. One faculty member from SFSU joined and told me about current situation. I graduated in late 1990's. He said a lot more buildings were constructed on campus.

But most surprising attendees were alumnis who graduated in 1960's. They were oldest in the group. He told us about his experience in that period. There was a student strike movement in those days following civil rights act. Ethnic minority students demanded the university to require all the students take ethnic minority study related subjects. They had been frustrated with racism in the university. Classes were boycotted and school buildings were occupied. The president of the university was changed during that time. It was Dr. Hayakawa, Japanese American. He accepted that demand.

Since then SFSU requires all the students to complete ethnic minority related courses. I did, of course. I remember what I took were Japanese American studies, Black studies, LGBT studies, and history of Japanese and Chinese women. Those were greatest studies in my life.

That ethnic study requirement was what my alma mater first acquired and spread all over the US. It was a good thing that I am proud of as alumni.

So my novel idea is based on what I heard and I research.

One Japanese student who grew up in a conservative family, Hiroshima, 1960's joined the university. He longed for America and American culture. He met a lot of kind of students there and instructors. One of them was an English teacher who was Japanese American, strict and conservative. Because of his instruction his English ability improved faster.

The strike started. The president was changed. It was that Japanese American teacher. The Japanese boy expected him to understand the movement because of his ethnicity but he was actually opposing that movement and trying to supress the students.

The Japanese boy along with his friends who were white, Afro-American, Asian Americans negotiated with him. He used what he learnt and loathed from his childhood to convince the president. Japanese heritage, tea ceremony, Kendo and so on.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it?

The theme song should be "Blowing in the wind." The answer is blowing in the wind.