health

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.

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Ramen is always a holiday

I don’t usually post food photos here, but I have to make an exception for ramen. There is something so porky and so satisfying about this common food.

There must be hundreds of ramen shops in Nakano, each with its own version. My current favorite is “Yokohama” style, on south side of the JR station, and features yankii-ish young cooks who are always wear towels on their sweaty heads.

Ramen is a health food and spirit recharger. It’s like chicken soup for Japanese, only tastier. This post is timed for someone else’s religious holiday: see what you’re missing!

New Year Parade of Police at Imperial Palace

On January 2 and December 23, the Imperial Palace opens its moated gates to the public, who are given plastic flags that are later recycled. A mix of monarchists and the just curious are herded in front of the largest ceremonial hall to witness the emperor give a five minute speech where he solemnly informs us that he is praying for our health and for peace.

What of course no one tells you is that this is the ultimate police fetish event of the year! So many types to choose from: Palace guards, regular police, policemen on step stools (a personal fetish of mine), police in boats, black trench police in front of numerous buses, even some uniformed horse rider. Here’s some of my best shots.

Many, many more police images after the jump. Mark your calendar for the next display of police authority!

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Smappa: Mega host club with Lohas twist

Smappa: Mega host club with Lohas twist

Kabukicho is now full of ads for this new (?) host club called Smappa!, which seems a blatant rip-off of SMAP, the boy band now entering middle-age. The Smappa ad for Shun-kun above hilariously promises 夜のロハス, night-time lohas.

Lohas means Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, and applies to a 30 something female demographic. What has made hairspray and men’s make-up sustainable? I think actually, like the club name, it is a blatant attempt to connect with larger pop culture themes (like a bad porn title that mimics a Hollywood blockbuster).

From their incredibly complete Smappa! website, I have borrowed these staff images. Scroll to the bottom to see their onsen/ryoukan holiday. These boys are well-documented. Check their Smappa website for more!

Smappa staff Smappa staff Smappa staff smappa_staff4 Smappa staff

Wishes at major shrine

Wishes at major shrine

Visiting a major shrine in Tokyo, I decided to stop and read some of the wishes written on wooden placards. I had thought they would all be about love and world peace. Of course, many are, but some are hilarious. Not sure if it’s bad to read others’ wishes, but they are public and I could not help myself.

Wishes at major shrine

Here are some of the best ones in English. Above: “I want a BMW 3 Series with real leather seats and a Bose sounds system and a GPS nav. system with a cute Japanese girl voice and seat warmers so my butt stays warm in the winter.”

Wishes at major shrine

“Simon has clear direction in his life and is determined to be + stay debt free with a house that owns . . . . He understands that it is all down to him– go for it tree!!!”

Wishes at major shrine

“Wish my daughter Linting (?) come to her senses + break away from Dario completely and never see him again. Wish good health, safe . . . Heal me + let me live a long healthy happy life.”

Below is what all the cards called ema in Japanese look like underneath the giant tree.

Wishes at major shrine

More wish cards after the jump.

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Sumo wrestlers expelled for dope

The Japanese media has broadcast endless stories for over a week about top Sumo wrestlers who have been expelled from Japan for pot smoking. Even Japan’s top sumo official has resigned in disgrace, and not a single person has defended the wrestlers, originally from Russia, or suggested that pot smoking is harmless.

This orgy of condemnation, shame and expulsion raises a few questions beyond health. How are these big boys going to pad on the pounds (or kilos) without a bit of reefer? Why are sumo leaders called “stablemasters” and what does that say about the humans who perform this ancient tradition? Which will take longer for Japan to accept, pot smoking or gay human rights?

Sayonara, big Russian boys! Good luck, ex-stablemaster daddy!

No smoking on Nakano sidewalks

No smoking on Nakano sidewalks

Nakano’s municipal government prohibits smoking on the sidewalk in its commercial district (as does Shinjuku and other parts of Tokyo). At first, I found this odd, given that smoking is freely permitted in restaurants, coffee shops and bars. This ban has nothing to do with public health or the dangers of second-hand smoke. Rather, it is about litter. Near the train station, there are several designated outdoor smoking areas with large ashtrays. This focus on keeping public areas clean extends to another only-in-Japan phenomenon, the personal, portable ashtray, which many smokers carry with them so that they do not leave their butts on the ground. This concern with public space and others is a sharp contrast to the dozens of butts that always decorate my front sidewalk and garden in San Francisco; most, without a doubt, find their way into storm drains and the bay. In Japan you rarely see any public trash cans or public litter; the expectation is that you must take your trash with you and properly dispose of it yourself.

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