religion

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Junk shaking at fall festival

What better way to start this small fall festival photo series than some bouncing junk. Sure, there’s tons of male ass on display as the men (and some ladies) huddle together to carry the shrines. But there are also surprises up front. Now this is the kind of religion that makes me want to participate, unlike so many others I have encountered.

Are no pants days really over for this year?

My interest in Shinto practice continues to deepen. I love a religion that brings the rice harvest to the city, and instructs men to go pants-less in public. Certainly there are many particularities I am still unfamiliar with.  The repetitive flute and metal percussion music puts me in a trance, and opens me to the possibility that these gods inhabit my neighborhood and are responsible for my daily meals. But ideas and concepts would be nothing without the flagrant masochism and exhibitionism central to the rituals.

It’s like the Catholic Easter passion, but better because of its multiplicity. There is more than one suffering man, and more than one god. If this is pagan, I am unable to resist. I will ask the gods this year to decontaminate the rice harvest.

Cougars are here to stay!?

Cougars here to stay!?

I love the NY Times Style section. Today features a hot photo from Cougar Town with Courtney Cox and Nick Zano and an article with the pseudo-intellectual title “Rethinking the Older Woman-Younger Man Relationship.” The basic idea is that now that women over 40 are more self-sufficient, they are freer to date men who are younger (and also poorer, of different religions and races).

Cougars have been maligned as desperate and inappropriate. And many men have been known to only date younger. Who can argue with feminine liberation? Can a cougar be omniverous and multi-generational? Can queers be cougars? What do you think?

Saint Grace Cathedral

St Grace Cathedral

Walking in the back streets of posh Omotesando, I stumbled upon this simulacra of a Gothic cathedral, named Saint Grace. Apparently it is famous in Tokyo. Apart from the bunches of electric wires on the street out front, and the partial miniaturization, it is the splitting image of historic France.

Of course, this being Japan, there are no religious services at Saint Grace. Its function is purely theatrical: Weddings, Receptions, Party and Events.

I love Japan’s entirely surface approach to religion and use of foreign styles as backdrops. None of the unpleasant dogmas of Catholic religion, and with all the fun and exoticism of foreign forms.

Saint Grace Cathedral

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.

Celebrating new niece, with tonkatsu

Celebrating new niece, with tonkatsu

I received the exciting news that my neice was born last week in New York. The husband was still asleep, so I celebrated alone at my favorite neighborhood restaurant that specializes in the very best tonkatsu in the world. A 70+ year-old chef masterfully coats and deep-fries pork cutlets that taste heavenly. As you can see, the lunch special is huge: pork-cutlet (fatty or lean, I always choose fatty), cabbage (endlessly re-fillable), tomato, parsley, soup, pickles, rice and potato salad (or the other salad I never choose). Green tea, also. If I were to re-marry, I’d marry the chef!

ps: How can any religion prohibit something this tasty?!