poster

A quick rant about the Tokyo candidates for the Diet

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The good news about Japanese elections is that the campaign season is short. The bad news is that it is accompanied by vans and mega-phones spewing noise pollution everywhere.

And then there are the campaign signs. For local elections, at least you see different characters in different neighborhoods. These past weeks, these hideous Diet candidate posters have haunted me throughout Tokyo.

Starting at the top, how do white gloves obscuring your face express your character? Maybe she’s too clean to hold that dirty mike, or shake constituents’ dirty hands. Below this mom-focused candidate is in front of a corporate backdrop that makes me wonder if she’s selling home cleaners or personal hygiene products. Lastly, at the bottom is the pretty male actor with a smirk.

I wish they would all go to hell, or at least shut up and remove their faces from public places.

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SMAP should “aid” themselves & disappear

This SMAP poster has been up for a while now. The faux “aid” message and the band-aid graphic are as insipid and uninspired as Japan’s oldest boy band. I wonder why these aging botoxed no-talents keep performing even when they show no interest in being on stage or with each other. In all those years of shilling cup of noodles, magazines, CDs, variety shows, etc, didn’t they make enough yen to enjoy retirement or a new career? Or have they made a life-time pact with Johnny-san, the evil boy band producer? Seeing them triggers an involuntary cringe each time.

Buddhist Training: Tourism, Sadism or Both?

Buddhist Training: Tourism, Sadism or Both?

This poster advertising a Buddhist Training camp and the Keio rail line is another only in Japan image. On the surface, it advertises the pleasure of attending Aescetic Training (sadhana) Experience Camp (修行体験合宿, shugyou taiken gasshuku). Above where I cropped the image, a speech bubble beckons with the words, “It’s so cold. My mind and body feel so refreshed.”

A lot of foreigners imagine Buddhism to be a benign philosophy about the world and human’s place within it. What is often overlooked abroad is the intense physical discipline that makes a daddy monk and two young acolytes freezing in the river a worthy image for a rail line seeking to boost ridership to a distant temple. The line between spirituality and perversion is thin indeed.