I am not sure if these men are worshiping Shinto gods or their mobile phones. Their pair look and close proximity suggests a certain intimacy.
Continuing on the same sex intimacy without being “gay,” tomorrow is the annual Shinto “naked festival” at Konomiya shrine, in Aichi prefecture. Wonder how far the train ride is from Tokyo? The festival website is in Japanese, and includes many images.
There is something deeply spiritual about sumo. I love that Hakuho’s belt and lightning bolts evoke the ones you see tied around Shinto shrine trees. Maybe the gods enjoy hanging out with the sumo players, as much as with the micro- green spaces by the shrines.
Catholics have some great paintings, but Shinto can not be beat for its corporeal beauty and costumes. I love the moment in the sumo tournament where all the wrestlers raise their arms. Are my feelings spiritual, carnal, or simply gleeful?
The sumo match itself rarely lasts more than a minute, and the rules seem simple. You win by pushing the other guy out of the circle. But there’s so much ritual before the shoving and grunting even begin. I like how they all come out together in special fancy aprons and raise their arms together. I am unclear whether it’s a spiritual or sexual act, but it’s hard not to stare.
The champion Hakuho also does some extra balancing and arm-raising, while wearing a special rope decoration. I like how the sumo champion is dressed up almost like a Shinto sacred tree. Even without knowing the specifics, it’s clear that he is invoking vast forces and unseen spirits.
The opponents face off several times and then go to their corners before starting the match. I like when they toss salt up into the air, which seems to purify and make the fighting space more exalted.
And finally, I love the intensity of their faces and bodies before the match begins. These big boys sure can squat low, and it’s exciting to anticipate the fearsome power they create out of their own body weight.
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.
I guess the Shinto gods need to visit the Tokyo streets as much as anyone does. Still, once you’ve lashed the shrine to enormous beams, it’s a lot to carry. It’s like Jesus and the cross, times 40. Being pants-less seems to add intimacy to the camaraderie of group effort.
A friend of mine regularly participates in these shrine carrying rituals, every season except winter. I tried it once, but now it’s best to claim old age prevents me from lifting. I do, still, like to watch.
This Little Taiko Boy somehow turns an Xmas song into a very sexy video with an HIV prevention message. Almost makes Xmas bearable.
Sorry but Vimeo does not embed on WordPress.com blogs. Worth clicking.
Sexy, adorable Mongolian sumo wrestler Hakuho has now extended his consecutive wins to 46, placing him 3rd in the ranks of all-time greatest sumo wrestlers. Since Asashoryu’s expulsion, Hakuho is the only yokozuna, or top-ranked player now. He is guaranteed to win the Nagoya championship that ends today. I was glad to see that despite the recent yakuza gambling scandal, the Nagoya stadium was full for this big match.
Watching on television allowed me to also focus on the opening ritual, in which Hakuho squats, lifts one leg to the side, drops his weight with a thud, thrusts his pelvis, and gives an impish stare. All while wearing not only the normal jockstrap-like costume, but also Shinto paper decorations and an elaborate rope sculpture on his back. A perfect mix of spirituality and raw physicality.