neighborhood

Is it OK for a teen boy to wear this t-shirt?

“Spread eagle,” worn as a three pink tone, muscle t-shirt by a neighborhood lad, is an invitation to a crime. Recently I saw an even more directly inappropriate teen t-shirt message: “Arctic Monkeys, Suck it and See.” This music fan may not have understood the lyrics, but his hair and outfit were asking to be observed.

I still have not discovered what the Japanese word for jailbait is. What is the age of consent, or of propriety? Are the teens somehow complicit? Even looking feels like a crime.

(Photo credit: Katy L)

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Selfista: The very worst Tokyo apartment building name?

As I’ve joked before, Tokyo has more than its share of strange building names, which seem to only increase in senselessness with the poshness of the neighborhood. I’ve ridiculed Movements, Zesty Minami-Koenji, Decent, and one of my favorites Cram Place.

This is a lovely modern apartment tower, lots of exterior raw concrete, beautiful balconies and views, a kindergarden on the ground floor, near good restaurants and mature trees, a place I would love to live in.

Yet, passing that name every day would be too much, right? “Selfista” reminds me of too English words: selfish, and self-fister which sounds like the master of an extreme sexual practice.

Omikoshi in Nishi-Ogikubo (西荻窪の御神輿)

Last week our friend To., a culture-maker and neighborhood leader, invited me to participate in “Omikoshi” (御神輿). Of course, at the time, I had no idea what it was, so I said sure. The husband demurred somehow.

“Omikoshi” (御神輿) involves parading a super-heavy shrine around the neighborhood, amidst lots of chanting and grunting. For four days after, my shoulders have been bruised and sore. On the plus side, it involves group drinking, costumes, a huge communal dinner in the street, and some men wore “fundoshi” under their “hapis.” That basically means they are not wearing pants, although you only see the “fundoshi” when they’re sitting on the sidewalk (from the front, it looks like a colorful speedo).

The religious significance is, of course, lost on me. It reminded me of a a group version of carrying the cross, and something about “worshipping false gods.” As you can see in the above photo, it involved lots of sweating before the bruises appeared.

Also below, you can see To. leading the neighborhood kids in a preliminary event.

Here’s drinking mid-way with Ka. and Ya. (Yes, I am “experimenting” in my older years with legal intoxicants).

Finally below is a video of the final chanting, grunting and carrying. Thanks, Os. for the video!