Liver training

Have you every drunk Ukon (ウコン)? It’s a ginseng drink recommended as a pre-drinking preparation. December is full of bonenkai parties, whose goal it is to forget the past year by drinking heavily. Last night I went to my first of the season. This is the time of year for George Michael’s Last Christmas and liver training.

Sumo bicycle training

How adorable is this?! A police-sumo publicity photo about bicycle safety. I guess one rule they didn’t cover is “don’t bike if you are wearing a super long robe.” It’s a good thing that most Japanese bicycles have a low cross bar (what is classified as a girl’s bike in US). I wish I had been on the ground taking the photo of the big boys navigating the obstacle course!

News story from Mainichi
A sumo wrestler weaves his way carefully around a line of pins outside the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward on Dec. 7, 2011. Twenty-two wrestlers from the Hakkaku-Beya sumo stable turned out to improve their bike-riding skills at a class organized by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). The class — which included sections on maneuvering, crossing intersections and negotiating curving roads — is part of the MPD’s traffic accident reduction program, though this is apparently the first time the officers have conducted one just for sumo wrestlers.

Boys in training

At a Tokyo university that shall not be named, I was startled by, and drawn to, loud male shouting. Imagine my glee at discovering these college students simultaneously pushing each other into stretching poses and shouting at full volume. I have no idea what they were saying, but the camaraderie and aggression made a sublime pairing. Later, I spotted them running around the campus carrying 2 liter plastic bottles full of water. Their faces mixed determination with exhaustion. This was *very* moe.

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.