Month: May 2009

Daddy-Son Politics

Daddy-son Politics

Japan, like many nations, has far too many ugly politicians. Fortunately, this Daddy Son pair from the Democratic Party of Japan are providing some sex appeal, photogenic optimism, and at least a few dirty thoughts. Yes, they can!

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Tokyo Pride Festival

Isetan drag queen, Tokyo Pride Festival

Yesterday was Tokyo’s Pride Festival, and this home-made couture costume of Isetan department store bags was the best outfit. The festival was small but lively, with a stage, booths, food, and lots of young people.

The stage show included a very large band with brass, wind instruments and percussion; Okinawan dancing and drumming; and a panel of celebrities being filmed for an NHK special on pride and being out.

Okinawan dancers, Tokyo Pride Festival

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People watching at Tokyo Dome

Tokyo Dome, Katun Fans

On a weekday afternoon, Tokyo Dome was alive with two groups of contiguous but not intersecting fans. On the upper level were hundreds of girls who had arrived hours early to watch a Johnny’s boy band called Katun. On the lower deck, hundreds of ojiisan (old guys) stand transfixed watching horse races on video screens and consulting their newspapers for betting stats.

Ojiisan horse betting, Tokyo Dome

I love the fan’s fan. Both groups have a similar intensity of purpose, no?

Katun fan's fan, Tokyo Dome

And the contrast between the girls’ “kawaii” fashions and the older gents’ uniforms of caps, muted colored slacks and jackets. There seems to be a group for everyone in Tokyo.

Ojiisan, horse race betting, Tokyo Dome

Sumo fun

Sumo fun, Hakuho

My first sumo was lots of fun. We had a good view of the big boys, including top player Hakuho, seen here flipping his opponent. Lots of butt cheek, aggression, ritual, cheering, and drama. I was surprised to see such a variety of attendees, including foreigners, old ladies, business men, mob-looking types and their girlfriends, and school children.

Many of the star sumo players are foreign, including Mongolian Hakuho and Bulgarian Kotooshu. They are surprisingly flexible, and able to withstand lots of flipping, falling, and even crashing off the stage into the crowd.

Sumo fun

Swine flu hits Japan

Swine flu hits Japan

The husband says I look “ayashii” (あやしい), not to be confused with the boy band “Arashi” (嵐, literally Storm), a popular boy band. No, I look suspicious. Better strange looking than sorry, I think.

The towel and sunglasses mark the arrival of summer. And the mask, well, Japan has just recorded over 100 swine flu cases since Friday, making it global #4 after Mexico, the US, and Canada.

So “ayashii ojiisan” went in this get-up on the JR, and to my very first sumo match. At the entrance, we were offered liquid hand sanitizer. Here’s another image.

Swine flu hits Japan, at sumo match

Baseball madness

Baseball madness

That glazed expression is the result of two beers before dinner. And those tiny plastic umbrellas? No, it is not raining. It is a fan tribute for a home run at the Swallows baseball game in Jingu Stadium. Anyone who knows me could be surprised seeing me at a ball game, but I was invited and, well, it’s Japan, so why not?

My pal encouraged me to sit in the cheap seat bleachers to fully enjoy the rowdy fans. It was a packed night because the opponents were the very popular Hanshin Tigers from Osaka. The stadium is divided right to left for each team’s fans, and we sat in the Swallows section. Although the rules are the same, the atmosphere is very different.

On our side, there were many plastic bats rhythmically beating, team jerseys and towels, general chants and player-specific chants (including a version of “Oh Canada” for one foreign player, and “ikemen” for one of the Japanese players), a few horns, some very large flags, and beer vendors in neon clothes with kegs strapped to their backs. While the Swallows fans have their plastic mini-umbrellas, the Tigers have large yellow balloons which they release into the sky at the 7th inning. A Japanese fan in the Swallows stands complained that it produces a lot of trash.

This fan in front of us was very friendly, proud of his team and their foreign players, and eager to lend us his dancing umbrella. Despite his super-butch appearance, I liked how he explained his “ikemen” chant (“because he’s sexy”), and that he came to the game with his buddy and the hugest pink and white sports bag I have ever seen.

Swallows fan

Bento for garden tour

Bento made by husband

Here’s the bento my husband made me for a garden tour with the (famous university) professor’s class last weekend. Note the pretty cloth and simple tie on our kitchen counter.

Here’s what it looked like unpacked on the garden bench. Two levels, including pasta, carrot pickles, celery salad, bacon, and egg. Note how the pickles have their own cute paper cup, there’s a re-usable toothpick in the eggs, and the salad is wrapped for freshness. Husband, please forgive my taking the photo without tidying up the bacon!

Bento made by husband

It tasted great!

Soshokukei: Men are now “Herbivores”

Soshokukei, herbivores & girly men in Japan

“Many of the boys I’ve met told me they cannot go out of their house if their hair doesn’t look perfect,” she said. “They have also told me that their self-esteem goes up when their nails look nice.” -Quoting Ushikubo Megumi who invented this new term”soshokukei” (草食男子) or “herbivores” to describe the new generation of men, 20-34.

What a happy day to read a Japan Times article that 60% of young men today can be classifed as “herbivores.” Also called “ojo-man” (lady-like men), this term seems to share many characteristics with the term “otomen” introduced by my online moe sensei Bangin.

Bangin does a great job contrasting the two terms in this recent post, and attributing soshokukei to the recently disgraced SMAP member  Kusanagi Tsuyoshi who got drunk and then arrested for public nudity last month.

What makes the Japan Times article so delicious is how they trace this new attitude to the post-bubble gloom generation and highlight extremely unmanly, dare I say “gay” behaviors. The article, of course, goes on to quote a sociologist who claims these girly men are “not gay”:  herbivores are “searching for heterosexual love while turning unisex.” Haha.

So here goes the definitions:

  • They are not as competitively minded about their jobs as men in older generations.
  • They are fashion conscious and eat sparingly so they can stay thin and fit into skintight clothes.
  • They are chummy with their moms and often go shopping together.
  • They are not interested in dating girls, having relationships, or even having sex (choosing from a plethora of “self-help” toys instead).

I love how this new trend is also tied to the internet: Apparently these herbivores do not want to reproduce because they are “too physically tired to have sex, let alone start a family.” Supposedly, they are substituting sex with women with internet porn and “do-it-yourself” gadgets! A supporting quant stat is that condom shipments have been falling since 1999, the start of the internet revolution.

I am surprised that this focus on men’s hair and nails overlooks their incredibly tortured eye-brows. Ah, Japan and your girly men, WE LOVE YOU!