I saw this strange cut-out pill addict outside a Shimokitazawa pharmacy. Are they trying to scare their customers away from (legal) medications? I am confused, and more than a little scared.
Naked guy encourages booze buying at Koenji’s Awa Odori
Just over a week ago, Koenji had its fantastic Awa Odori festival, and I took many photos of participants, food & booze sellers, & other attendees. I’m going to post them over a few posts and a few days.
This barely legal guy literally has the price of beer scrawled across his naked back. I love the very DIY, un-hemmed red fundoshi he’s sporting, and the brazenness of his pitch. Check out below where this customer is juggling his cigarette, man-bag, and wallet to get boozed up as quickly as possible. This is Japan when it’s not working.
Lights explosion and dogs as customer bait
I recently learned this odd Japanese phrase: kanban musume (看板娘), which literally means daughter and store sign. I think the modern term is “door bait.” Apparently it’s an Edo or earlier tradition for commercial establishments to place their attractive daughters outside the shop to lure customers.
This male host club uses three over-sized dogs, each with their own portable heater and blanket, to bring in the (mostly) female clients. The husband remarked that he hopes the white dog with a pink bow is male.
A nearby club is surprisingly visible from the sidewalk. Peering inside makes me feel like I am on acid.
Student ceramic show
I did not have a chance to post these photos earlier. Late last month, we had the annual student ceramic show. My second one! I was so surprised to see almost all of what I exhibited: two lattice-shaped bizen vases, six mugs, and a few other bizen vases which I made in May during the studio trip.
In addition to my super loyal customer and Japanese aunt, my university friend bought one piece, as did the wife of a famous antique dealer and several people I do not know. In addition, I am now working on orders for more mugs.
More photos after the jump.
Male maid cafes
The Japan Times features a wonderful Christmas Eve story about the growing popularity of male maid cafes. What I love is that this trend of men assuming the maid costume is presented as having nothing to do with sexuality or gender identity.
1. Men like dressing as women, and it’s becoming more acceptable.
Behind this nascent trend, observers say, is that more men are beginning to enjoy dressing as a woman from a fashion viewpoint, and society is becoming more tolerant of the practice.
2. There are not enough women workers.
It started when one of the regular waitresses quit.
3. Male customers feel more comfortable being served by men.
“Men who are not used to being served by women can feel relaxed and talk to the ‘maids’ easily because they are male,” said Chaan Sarin, who heads the cafe’s waitstaff.
4. For the maids, cross-dressing provides stress-relief from work. It’s only temporary, the girlfriend does not know, and this personal therapy will be ended with marriage.
“I become a totally different person to release my stress from work. I have the feelings of a man and I will quit once I get married,” he said.
5. Manga makes them do it.
More male fans are also dressing like their favorite female characters in “anime’ animation and computer games.
6. Publishing houses are helping men look better in drag.
Cashing in on this trend, Osaka-based Yu-time Publishing released the book “Otokonoko no Tameno Henshin Gaido” (“Guide for Boys to Transform Themselves”) in October 2008.
7. Tolerance is related to looking pretty, and new media sources allow men to be prettier women today.
“People began to accept men dressed as women, saying it is OK as long as they are beautiful. At the same time, as there is more information nowadays on how to dress like women, men have gotten dramatically better at it.”
Japan has the most awesome combination of extreme kinkiness and feigned innocence.
Excessive uniformed service
My friend Bryan captured this strange image in Shinjuku: it’s store closing, so two men in white gloves have their arms stretched wide as the gate lowers. Why? Are they afraid some desperate shopper will rush in? Or is it simply a performance?
Throughout Tokyo you can experience excessive service that borders on the nonsensical. Today I visited a big box store, and there were four uniformed men helping customers enter the parking lot. How can companies justify this excessive work force? And what could be a more boring job?