prayer

Massive merch comes off

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The prayer seems directed at the groin itself. More Massive merch, clothes and books, is here.

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Anpan man also prays at Hanazono shrine

Here’s Anpan man ringing the bell above the giant rope cord, before donating money and praying. Quite the action shot.

I’m using a new film camera now, in addition to the digital one. Do you notice any difference?

Tanabata wishes at the supermarket

Today is Tanabata, a Chinese-derived holiday about celestial lovers. It’s also the opportunity to write your wishes on special trees. The tree where I left my wish is our local supermarket. Mine says, “I hope I pass the Japanese language test” (日本語のしけんにごうかくしますように).

Repulsed by monotheism, I’ve recently discovered how much I enjoy Shintoism and any type of Japanese superstitions. If there’s a stack of cards close at hand where you can write a wish, well, why not do it? For last week’s JLPT exam, I not only left this note in my supermarket, but I also left some coins and a quick prayer at our local Shinto shrine.

I love this child’s wish below. When he’s big, he wants to be a hairdresser. What would you wish for? And where would you leave your wish?

Senator’s Adultery, Christian Faith, and Dirty Money

Senator John Ensign

I am enjoying too much the endless story of US Senator John Ensign (pictured with his legally wed wife). First there was a story about how his parents offered 96,000 dollars to the husband of his mistress. At the time, he claimed that unlike President Bill Cliinton he committed no crimes. Now it seems he helped set up the husband, his former chief of staff, in a lobbying company by providing him with clients. My favorites part of the story is the large amount of Christian prayer both men and their families undertook. Apparently prayer does not always work! The latest New York Times story comes with a 20 year “interactive timeline.”

The story is soo tawdry, with the handsome senator, tearful promises, religious faith, and constant slippage into carnality. Here’s a sample:

At the urging of foundation leaders, Mr. Ensign agreed to write a good-bye letter to Cynthia Hampton and send it by overnight mail. “What I did with you was a mistake,” he wrote in longhand. “I was completely self-centered and only thinking of myself. I used you for my own pleasure.”

But immediately after the confrontation, the senator called Ms. Hampton and told her to disregard the letter, Ms. Hampton said. The relationship would continue for six more months.

Bizen Pottery Trip

Bizen Pottery Trip

Yesterday I returned from a four day Golden Week ceramic trip to Numazu in Shizuoka, near Mount Fuji and the Izu Peninsula. The in-law ceramics senseis organized this annual trip to use a wood-fired oven to make special bizen pottery.

For three days and nights, we heated a wood kiln until it reached 1200 degrees celsius, taking turns feeding it. It will take another three or four days for the kiln to cool down, so a return trip is necessary to take out the pottery.

Here are some photos that depict some of the process. Below are the 18 or 20 pieces I made: mostly flower vases with lattice tops, ten small round plates, and four rectangular plates.

Bizen flower vases with lattice tops, ten small round plates, and four rectangular plates

Read more and see more photos

New Year’s Day

New Year's Day,  shrine

With the in-laws and the hubb, I visited this shrine on New Year’s day. Amidst an ordinary Suginami neighborhood, this small shrine looks like something out of history, or at least an advertisement. Hey, is that Hachiko, the famous dog?

New Year is a quiet and charming time in Tokyo. Everyone who came from the interior has left, most businesses are shut down, and there’s a lot of over-eating with the family. In between delicious lunch and dinner at the in-laws, we visited the shrine, to say a quick prayer and to draw our fortune.

After experiencing the mind-numbingly long prayers of my family’s religion, Japanese prayer is so charming. Throw some coins in the shrine, ring the bell, bow twice, clap your hands twice, press them together, think a happy thought, and let the next people have their turn. It takes about 20 seconds, and involves no audible words.

Happy new year to everyone! Hope your year started well.