One more unique experience gained this weekend: Kanamara Matsuri, or the Phallus festival.
This festival features, as you might expect, the display of numerous giant phalluses, penis-shaped snacks, and a mikoshi (portable shrine) parade which includes the distinctive pink ‘Elizabeth Mikoshi’ which was donated by a drag queen club in Tokyo called “Elizabeth Kaikan”(here they are carrying out a Shinto ritual in order to “transfer” the Gods from the shrine to the portable one to be carried through the streets and to bless/purify it).
Outside the procession, vendors and stores were selling phallic-shaped candies and goods. The prices were ridiculous, but that didn’t stop people (including me) from buying and licking overpriced, penis and vagina-shaped lollipops.
Onsen is an important part of Japanese culture. They are geothermal-heated public baths (heated to at least 25°C ) and they can be located either indoors or outdoors (the foremost benefits are that they warm the body and impart physical and mental relaxation; some of them also contain certain dissolved minerals, which are said to help heal illness or injuries).
The most popular legend about how the local love of hot springs originated in Japan, is the story of a Buddhist monk stumbling upon an area full of wounded animals bathing in the hot springs thousands of years ago. When the animals emerged, he noticed they were completely healed. The monk realized these hot springs were special and that people should reap the rewards of their mineral-filled waters.
I met a girl from Taiwan, with whom I was laughing for the whole night in a Japanese traditional house, while dressed like a pumpkin and a pirate girl.
I met a boy from Thailand, who was the best at making jokes but also at telling lies. Actually, he was one of the few people who actually knew about Montenegro. Or was it just another lie?
I met a bunch of young people, who liked to cook together. They even cooked my favorite Japanese food for my birthday. And they bought me a strawberry cake. And the strawberry cake is something special to me.
Although my favorite things in this world are chocolate and flowers, I somehow, love Valentine’s day just because it was my grandmother’s birthday on this day.
Actually, I didn’t know that St Valentine’s day is celebrating also in Japan, but why not, if they can celebrate Christmas or if they can be getting married in Christian churches. In the beginning, I was confused, isn’t it insincere to celebrate a holiday without a deeper understanding of the reason for it? I’m not saying that people from the West understand their own holidays either, but I am not so sure if everyone here knows and understands the origins and rationale for those holidays that they accepted.
One of the biggest Japanese attractions for tourists is certainly Robot Restaurant.
First to mention that in Tokyo you can actually encounter numerous robots, mainly in large shopping centers – that are advertising certain products.
Now to go back to the restaurant. In fact, this is not a restaurant where dinner can be served to you. Rather, it is the show combined with the huge dinosaurs, robots, savage tribes and their drums, and many other oddities. It looks like you gave the child crayons and paper in order to design the restaurant, so the child was thrown on the paper everything he/she could think of. After the show, I was not thrilled, but now, as I write this I get that it was worth it seeing this show.
Mom: How’s your job going?
K: It’s okay. But you have never told me that babies have blue butts. I was so scared today when I saw it in kindergarten. Then they told me it’s normal.
Mom: I have never heard of it. Blue butts? Maybe it’s the race thing.
But, hey, the spring has just come today and we were celebrating the coming of it (The Bean-Throwing Festival) yesterday, according to the old Japanese calendar.
At this festival roasted soybeans (called “fortune beans”) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon) mask, while saying “Demons out, Luck in! The beans should drive away from the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health. Then the beans should be eaten also (as a part of bringing luck in) – one for each year of one’s life, plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come.
It is just an ordinary night here in Tokyo. Coming back from the job, and doing customary things like making coffee, eating mystery foods, while still with a hat, scarf, and in a jacket. Actually, I am not sure how many degrees there are, but it is unbelievably cold. Every night the same, I just cannot ever escape the cold, because houses here are not properly insulated (there is no central heating). My room is equipped with an aircon unit, but I have to be sitting right underneath it to feel warmer.
1: Let’s go to the exhibition of Takashi Murakami, he is a very famous Japanese artist and this is his first solo exhibition in Japan, after 14 years.
2: Okay, whatever, just show me some crazy Japanese stuff.
3: He actually painted one of the works himself.
2: What do you mean?
3: Yeah, he used to paint in the past, but as he is doing prolific art, he is now gathering together groups of art students and directing them as a sort of commander-in-chief.
Speaking of Mermaids, women in Japan cannot become sushi chefs (because of the menstrual cycle, women have an imbalance in their taste?) but on the other side, they can be Mermaids!
For nearly two thousand years, Japanese women living in coastal fishing villages made a remarkable livelihood hunting the ocean for pearls. Their name is Ama (海女 in Japanese), which literally means ‘woman of the sea’ and that’s why they are known as the Pearl Diving Mermaids of Japan. There are only a few ladies left in Japan that still make their living (well into their 90s) by filling their lungs with air and diving for long periods of time deep into the Pacific ocean, with nothing more than a mask and flippers.