face

Is this the face of serenity and acceptance?

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“Sprout” seems awfully well composed considering how much shaving cream he is wearing.

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Fashion Conundrum #4: Does the mask add just the right amount of mystery with bare calves?

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The mask is many things: courtesy, self-protection, anti-social, or just wanting a few extra centimeters of space on the train. But with this bare calves outfit with jacket matching the New Balance running shoes, the mask also obscures just enough to add another layer of intrigue and attraction. Plus, it seems he reads.

Dear reader, would you wear a mask to attract the attention of foreign pervs?

Winter costume, artifice, health, and hair

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In Tokyo, it’s always mask season. I remember how “shocked” the international media was after the Fukushima nuke disaster, to see the multitudes in Tokyo all wearing masks. Nothing special in the facial mask technology for radiation, or at least not yet.

Since the winds started blowing on March 1, everyone’s talking about the start of spring hay fever season. I wonder if the mask adds a certain mystery and allure for the wearer? Seduction through withholding? Could the facial mask be the Japanese unisex niqab? As much as I dislike winter, perhaps there’s something to be appreciated in the layers of costume, artifice, health, and hair.

Thanks to Al for lending me his camera.

Anpan man showed up at this Hanazono shrine festival

For no discernible reason, someone dressed as Anpan man showed up at the Hanazono festival. He’s the #1 comic character for the nursery school through elementary school.

True to character, he tore off pieces of his face to feed strangers. He also offered red bean paste (in a purple plastic bag, below) with the bread that is his face. Not sure why this guy dressed up for the festival.

Other shrine visitors enjoyed his company, too!

Why is this fashionable guy wedged into the corner of this train?

Is something dirty happening with this fashionable guy wedging himself into the corner of the JR train, face and body pressed against the wall with one foot in a forward motion gesture? Actually he seemed to be on the telephone, a violation of standard courtesy rules on Japanese public transit. I love how he’s positioned himself into a false sense of privacy.

Random Gay Tokyo life

Sublime and random Tokyo gay stories in August:

1. A gay Italian visitor to Tokyo is *shocked* at the sight of Japanese men using paper fans to cool themselves on trains and sidewalks. “In Italy, only women and fags dare use a fan.” There is nothing more satisfying than observing an Italian man surprised by another nation’s male effeminacy.

2. My new super-gay hairdresser (rare in a country where most are straight) has recently told me about his working the festival circuit with his yakuza friends carrying a portable shrine shoulder to shoulder and dressed in fundoshi (ritual male thongs), his earlier stint at a Ginza hair salon when he cut the hair of  minor royals, and advice about yankii and nudist beachs in Chiba.

A few years younger than this author, my new gay Japanese sensei is also a middle-aged competitive body builder, with distinct orange in his hair and skin tone. Did I mention that we met at Haguromo, the super-gay and sometimes yakuza-filled sento? How often can I get my short hair cut? He’s talented with hair and full of helpful stories and expressions.

3. I’ve heard that many Japanese prefer “small faces.” Just recently, a Japanese friend explained that Japanese distinguish between weak faces (うすい、薄い)and strong faces(こい、濃い). Previously I understand that these adjectives are applied to liquids like tea (literally, the concentration through quantity and steeping time) and even to food types (sort of like light and heavy).

Apparently with people, so-called weak faces have “fewer distinguishing features” or “fewer things sticking out.” Strong faces have deep set eyes, large noses, more prominent chins. This distinction is at once racial and yet pretends not to be.  I have a hard time grokking this, but will be more open to hearing about these immutable differences.

American summer ritual more vulgar than Japan?

Just so no one thinks Japan has a global monopoly on vulgar summer festivities, I am happy to show an American summer vulgarity crossed with this year’s start to the 2012 presidential race. At state fairs, like this one in Iowa, when Americans are not eating deep fried butter on a stick, they are often shoving corn dogs into their faces. Fittingly, in Japan corn dogs are referred to as “American dogs.” Combined with religious nuts, this is not only vulgar but also distasteful.

(Thanks to Ericthefez for assembling this pictorial).

Japanese teens hiding behind face masks

A British news story purports that teens are hiding behind face masks “in order to retreat from society.” Blame is predictably cast on the economy and “social insecurities.” My favorite is the quote from the teen who claims to only take off his mask after running practice: “All I can say is that it somehow calms me down.”

My advice to anyone who wants “to look Japanese,” wear a face mask!