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Japan from the inside out

Archive for the ‘Popular culture’ Category

All you have to do is look (69)

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Miss Bikini International Pageant in Beijing this April. It featured young women performing a routine in bikinis with traditional Chinese opera makeup and hair decorations.

Posted in China, Photographs and videos, Popular culture | 1 Comment »

All you have to do is look (60)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Scenes from the National Sake Barrel Tug of War Championships held at the end of last month in Nagaoka, Niigata. The event started in 1965, and nine male and five female teams participated this year. Each match was divided into three rounds, and the winner was the first team to win two rounds.

Note the paper folded into a zigzag shape on top of the barrels. That’s called a shide, and is used to denote a sacred space in Shinto.

The photo above comes from the Hibi Zakka website

Posted in Photographs and videos, Popular culture, Sports | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Java jive

Posted by ampontan on Monday, September 24, 2012

SOMETIMES it’s the observation of small matters that leads to the recognition of big differences. The contrast of those big differences sometimes leads to a recognition of the nature of that which is being contrasted.

As an example, here’s a post from the Beijing Shots website. Some people in China are seriously wrinkled over the presence of Starbucks in their country, and some people are cranking themselves into righteously indignant knots about a new Starbucks near a monastery:

The American giant Starbucks has caused heated discussion in China over whether it is appropriate for the world’s largest Western coffee shop to set up in the Lingyin Temple, a Buddhist monastery in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province.

The Sina Weibo account of the company’s stores in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces announced Friday that it would open a shop in the monastery on Saturday. The news was reposted over 4,000 times with many biting comments about the odd combination of the modern commercial shops being set up in ancient temples.

Here’s the problem — particularly the parts after the comma:

A Weibo user said it creates an odd juxtaposition to drink coffee in a setting meant for meditation, as Starbucks symbolizes foreign culture and Lingyin represents traditional Chinese culture. Another user complained that even religious sites are not immune from the invasion of foreign culture.

Starbucks defends itself:

“The new coffee shop is located outside of the central scenic area requiring a 20-minute walk,” a staff member surnamed Wang with the management office of the temple told the Global Times, adding that Starbucks has met all the strict requirements the management office sets for commercial establishments.

But that’s not good enough for an on-call academic:

“The scenic spot’s management office should do its research before opening a foreign brand store at a cultural heritage site,” Zhang Yiwu, professor with the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Peking University, told the Global Times, adding that finding a balance between Chinese culture and commercialism is critical.

They’ve also forced Starbucks out of the shop it opened in the Forbidden City seven years ago. The company removed their sign from the window two years ago, but that wasn’t enough for a CCTV news reader:

“The Chinese people did not have the taste or tradition for drinking coffee, but Starbucks has turned China into its second largest global market. This is an admirable commercial success. But there is something that is disappointing: there is a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City. I and numerous Chinese and foreign friends believe that it is incongruous to have a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City, because it is ‘obscene.’ I don’t know if Starbucks has any plans to be present at the Taj Mahal Palace in India, or the Pyramids of Egypt, the Buckingham Palace in England and other world cultural treasure and miracle sites, but I ask you to get out of the Forbidden City.”

– Rui Chenggang @ Yale CEO Summit Conference

Do you think this is starting to read as if it were a clinical case study of terminal ethnocentrism? Wait until you read what the Beijing Shots editor wrote:

Editor’s note: In addition to being a huge waste of money, Starbucks is seen by many traditional Chinese as being a culturally invasive. In case you were born yesterday, Chinese people have always drank tea, NOT coffee. It would be a shame for China’s beautiful tea culture to disappear and be replaced by a less sophisticated, coffee. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if Starbucks coffee weren’t so darn expensive.

If China’s several millennia of beautiful tea culture were to be supplanted by the invasion of that crude and barbaric beverage because there are now more than 570 Starbucks outlets in a country of 1.3 billion, it might be because more people wanted to drink coffee than tea. It also might be because Starbucks saw the opportunity to create a new market and took advantage of it. Odd how little confidence the editor has in China’s cultural resilience, despite the confidence he has in its superiority.

And the price of Starbucks products is a matter between the company and its customers. If they’re too expensive or culturally insensitive, drink all the tea in China instead. That’s how free markets work.

There’s more. The editor quotes a foreigner writing on another site who praises something else Mr. Rui wrote: “An essay about Japan that every Chinese person ought to read”. Said the unidentified foreigner:

(It) should indeed be required reading by every Chinese for its poignant and critical analysis of Nationalistic pride and misguided views about Japan. It should also be read by foreigners to de-jade them of the opinion that all Chinese think using a sliver of the perspective that the world at large holds.

Here’s the de-jader:

That bitter part of Sino-Japanese history is just one shadow cast in the two-thousand-year history of Sino-Japanese relationship. It is not everything. The future will be even longer.

We cannot keep repeating that the Chinese language is the ancestor of the Japanese language, wanting the Japanese people to be the descendants of the 3,000 boys and girls that could not find the magical eternal-life potion for the First Emperor of Qin, or forgetting (or even being totally ignorant) of the contributions that Japan has made towards China.

Admitting someone else’s good points does not mean that you are deprecating yourself. On the contrary, it is an expression of self-confidence.

That sets the editor off about the foreigner, not the Chinese news reader:

The attitude from the western multinational corporate mouthpiece reminds us all that Starbucks must in fact be boycotted, otherwise this kind of arrogance, and hostility will continue, as these writers cannot survive without funding from western multinationals. If you consider yourself a person with honor, you ought to also boycott websites such as danwei, and imagethief. and inform others of their malicious agenda….Maybe the time has come to stop whoring out our land, and put heavy restrictions on western multinationals. If we want to protect our culture, then Mcdonalds, KFC, Carefour, Jack Jones, Uni Qlo, all must be limited, not only Starbucks. If the corporate mouth pieces insist on slandering the Chinese people, Chinese culture, and the Chinese government, then it is certainly fair game to turn up the heat on western multinational corporations. What goes around, comes around.

Why yes, they do want to exact revenge on everyone who mistreated them for the past 150 years. Didn’t you know?

What they don’t know is the concept expressed by the economist Tyler Cowan in his book Creative Destruction, and quoted by Don Boudreaux at Café Hayek:

Trade, even when it supports choice and diverse achievement, homogenizes culture in the following sense: it gives individuals, regardless of their country, a similarly rich set of consumption opportunities. It makes countries or societies “commonly diverse,” as opposed to making them different from each other….

Cross-cultural trade does not eliminate differences altogether, but, rather, it liberates differences from the constraints of place.

To which commenter Yevdokiya Zagumenova added:

….and gives the natives who don’t appreciate the loss of illusory control in a world they no longer understand something to rail against with charges of “American Cultural Imperialism” (for example).

The editor at this site isn’t an outlier, if that’s what you’re wondering. The Chinese expressing views such as these in English have become a presence on the Internet.

Now for the contrast. Here’s what I wrote about a new Starbucks that opened in Japan last December:

Starbucks Japan announced they will open a shop on the sando, or approach path, to the Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shinto shrine on the 16th. It will be the first Starbucks shop at a shrine or Buddhist temple.

The Tenman-gu shrine is a large facility with gardens containing 6,000 plum trees in addition to the buildings. A Shinto shrine was first built there in 905, and the current building, registered as an important cultural property, dates from 1591. It was built on the grave of Tenjin, the deification name of Sugawara no Michizane, renowned for his erudition and learning. They’re opening the Starbucks at just the right time, too, as tens of thousands of people will visit the shrine for New Year’s. The visits will continue into January as students make the pilgrimage to ask the deity for a blessing to pass their high school or university entrance examination. Another attraction, the Kyushu National Museum, is within walking distance nearby.

The location demands that this shop not resemble the typical shopping mall Starbucks. It was designed by University of Tokyo architect Kuma Kengo, known for his work on the Suntory Museum of Art and the Nezu Museum. That design combines the traditional and the modern with natural materials, primary among which is 2,000 pieces of Japanese cedar obtained by thinning out forests. It will also have two gardens, one in front facing the sando and one inside with more plum trees. There will be 46 seats in the interior and 10 on the terrace.

The post includes a photo of the interior and a 10-minute YouTube video of the street where the shop is located and the grounds of the shrine itself.

The Dazaifu shop opening was a news item on the day it was announced, but people have since forgotten about it. If anyone complained, it escaped my notice. Starbucks Japan has 955 shops in Japan, according to their website. Yet Japan’s beautiful tea culture is still thriving. Even young people, mostly women, practice the tea ceremony. They have clubs in high schools and colleges. And when they open a Starbucks near a Shinto shrine, they make sure it harmonizes with the neighborhood.

Some people are adaptable and are the stronger for it. Some people are rigid and are the weaker for it.

Some people in the West get all warm and fuzzy and why-can’t-we-get-along about the Chinese. Some, such as the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, are openly envious of their political and social systems.

Which part of those systems, exactly?

As their own name for themselves indicates, these folks believe they’re the flower in the center of the world.

You know what that makes us.

*****
The website says there are 200 Starbucks outlets in China. There were 570 as of May. Mr. Rui said China was the second largest global market. There are more than 955 outlets in Japan.

There’s no need for me to make pithy comments when I know you’re thinking plenty of pithy thoughts on your own.

*****
Whoops Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot.

Posted in Business, finance and the economy, China, Popular culture, Shrines and Temples, Social trends, Traditions | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Priorities

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 21, 2012

THE Japanese are more aware than anyone else of the deficiencies of their national political establishment. It’s often said that the bureaucrats are the real politicians, and the politicians are really just lobbyists for the interests of the ministries they’re associated with or other private sector interests.

Here’s a demonstration of the severity of the problem. The following is a Tweet today from Matsuda Kota, an upper house representative from Your Party:

“The South Korean pop star PSY is very popular in the U.S. and Europe. They say he’s also going to collaborate with Justin Bieber. PSY talks to the international media in fluent English. We must learn from South Korean artists in this regard. South Korean female groups popular in Japan also mastered English first to establish a global presence.”

There were Chinese naval frigates in Japanese territorial waters this morning in a deliberate provocation, people throughout the world are wondering if war will break out between China and Japan, relations with South Korea are in a deep freeze, the economy is in the doldrums, the government just passed a bill to double the consumption tax in the teeth of deflation, the devolution of authority to regional governments is stalled, and Matsuda Kota is Tweeting about disposable chewing gum culture.

This would be understandable if he were a chinless wonder along the lines of Hatoyama Yukio, whose political position derives entirely from the fact that his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were prominent national politicians, and his mother illegally bankrolled his fledgling party with money from the Bridgestone family fortune (for which the back taxes and penalties alone totaled $US six million).

But Mr. Matsuda was an entrepreneur who founded Tully’s (coffee) Japan, cashed out, and turned his attention to politics. He’s handsome enough to have been in show business. He’s also a member of Your Party, which is the only party now in the Diet that takes reform seriously.

Why is he even talking about this?

To be fair, he probably wants to encourage young people to learn English so they can be more active internationally. There’s nothing wrong with that, but most of the people who are fans of Korean girl groups are not reading his Tweets. I know Japanese high school and college students. They’re not going to get excited about English just because PSY is fluent enough to appear on the Today show. Do you want to speculate on how many people are thinking about PSY this time next year?

Now you know why the Japanese electorate is so frustrated — every election, they keep kicking the bums out, only to be disillusioned by their replacements. There’ll be two national elections by next summer at the latest, and that trend will continue until the electorate gets what it wants.

Gangnam Style

Speaking of PSY, if you haven’t seen his video, consider yourself to be in cultural hibernation. It has more than 200 million views on Youtube alone. While it’s a massive international sensation, it’s really just the combination of a danceable novelty tune with an entertaining, eye-catching video. Like other novelty acts, PSY is unlikely to come anywhere near that success again, particularly outside of South Korea. He’s probably set for life there, however. (He’s already establishment himself; he’s released six albums in South Korea already.)

But unbeknownst to the ravers and teenyboppers outside the country, there’s a lot going on in that tune lyrically. The blind squirrels at AP found an acorn with this article explaining the back story:

The district of Gangnam, which literally means “south of the river,” is about half the size of Manhattan. About 1 percent of Seoul’s population lives there, but many of its residents are very rich. The average Gangnam apartment costs about $716,000, a sum that would take an average South Korean household 18 years to earn.

Gangnam…is new money, the beneficiary of a development boom that began in the 1970s.

As the price of high-rise apartments skyrocketed during a real estate investment frenzy in the early 2000s, landowners and speculators became wealthy practically overnight. The district’s rich families got even richer.

The new wealth drew the trendiest boutiques and clubs and a proliferation of plastic surgery clinics, but it also provided access to something considered vital in modern South Korea: top-notch education in the form of prestigious private tutoring and prep schools. Gangnam households spend nearly four times more on education than the national average.

The notion that Gangnam residents have risen not by following the traditional South Korean virtues of hard work and sacrifice, but simply by living on a coveted piece of geography, irks many. The neighborhood’s residents are seen by some as monopolizing the country’s best education opportunities, the best cultural offerings and the best infrastructure, while spending big on foreign luxury goods to highlight their wealth.

“Gangnam inspires both envy and distaste,” said Kim Zakka, a Seoul-based pop music critic. “Gangnam residents are South Korea’s upper class, but South Koreans consider them self-interested, with no sense of noblesse oblige.”…

…PSY does something in his video that few other artists, Korean or otherwise, do: He parodies the wealthiest, most powerful neighborhood in South Korea,” writes Sukjong Hong, creative nonfiction fellow at Open City, an online magazine.

If you’re one of those who’ve been in cultural hibernation and haven’t seen the video, it’s embedded in the AP article. It really is a hoot once or twice, and even better, a lot of the women in it are hot!

Posted in Music, Politics, Popular culture, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Lifting

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

LOTS of folks enjoy testing their strength, whether in Olympic weightlifting, the grip strength machines at beachfront boardwalks, or the annual Chikaraishi Soja at Soja, Okayama. In that last event, men and women of all ages squat down and lift rocks and concrete blocks in the yard outside the Soja-gu Shinto shrine, competing to see who can hold the pose the longest.

The heavy lifting happens every year at the end of August, and this year about 200 people showed up to spit on their hands and heave away. There are 23 different weights ranging from 1.9 to 180 kilograms, which allows anyone of any age to muscle up and go. The idea is to lift it the stone 10 centimeters off the ground and hold it for 10 seconds. After that, the person who holds on the longest wins. One 74-year-old man was an inspiration for us all by successfully lifting and holding a rock weighing 135 kilograms. That’s about 50% more than I weigh.

The event isn’t a casual neighborhood affair, either. The male champion was Sugimoto Katsuhiro, a civil servant who came over from Kashihara, Nara. He’s won two years in a row, five times in all, and holds the holding record at 59.55 seconds. The women’s winner was Mitsuhata Akemi (31), a temporary employee at a local junior high. She stood up and held on to a 120-kilogram rock to win for the fifth straight year and 12th time overall.

The city of Soja has posted several pleasant Youtube videos to promote tourism, and here’s the one with scenes from last year’s event, including Mr. Sugimoto’s winning hoist. You might break into a sweat just watching it.

Posted in Popular culture, Sports | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

In their heads

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
-Oscar Wilde

THE terminally serious sitting at their cubicle desks of respectable discussion are missing the point with the intellectual skirt chasing of gravitas and erudition. They’d find it more productive to apply some good old-fashioned Buddhist detachment to the goofiness, mythomania, and triple-digit loon factor of the global gutter press and dumpster-dive right into the middle without holding their noses. The immediate benefit would be a wealth of entertainment superior to most vaudeville of either the 20th or 21st centuries. The payoff would be information more useful and an education more practical than that to be found in their learned periodicals of choice better suited to their class prejudices.

If you think I’m red-lining it on the loon meter myself, follow this trail and watch where it leads.

Let’s start with Tokyo Sports, a daily tabloid of the type that prints all the news that isn’t fit to print, extensive coverage of sports news with huge headlines, and speculation on the physical characteristics of the sexual organs of female celebrities.

Here’s an excerpt from their 23 August edition.

“It would be a good idea to ban the Korean Wave, or even K-Pop. That would include Girls’ Generation and Kara. Korean consumer electronics and other products make their way into Japan, but I think there will definitely be a boycott. (Person connected with the Liberal Democratic Party).”

That’s Square One: A solitary unidentified guy in an unidentified party position biting into the red meat of the sort that people chew whenever there’s an uproar between two nations. The Korean Wave is no more likely to banned in Japan than French fries were to be renamed Freedom Fries in the US a decade ago during the runup to Iraq War II.

Now for Square Two: Someone from enews, “The Voice of Korean Entertainment”, read the article and gave it to Erika Kim to translate and Lee Kyung-nam to put into publishable form. Here’s their treatment.

“One official from the leading opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party, has even told the Japanese press that Japan should ban any Korean wave related content and K-Pop… According to a Japanese newspaper, Tokyo Sports, the official said, “We need to ban the Korean wave, K-Pop, everything. Girls’ Generation (SNSD) and Kara are also out of the question. Korean electronics make their way into Japan, but a boycott will definitely arise soon.”

See how quickly they upgraded to “an official” telling “the Japanese press” that they “need to ban” the Korean wave, K-Pop, “everything”?

Square Three followed shortly thereafter. MTV Iggy picked up the enews story and ran this headline:

Japan Wants to Ban Korean Media Over Dokdo Islands

We’ve gone from an unidentified someone to the entire country in a virtual blink of the eye. Using the enews story as a basis, Janine Bower reported:

“Right now, Japanese officials are working to place a ban on all forms of Korean media.”

Bower wanted to give the site’s readers some background, but research and reading comprehension do not seem to be her strong points:

“It all comes down to a fierce territory dispute between what are called the Dokdo Islands to the Koreans, and the Takeshima Islands to the Japanese. Japan believes that the islands belong to them because the US government abolished Korea’s ownership of them during World War II.”

Janine must have been playing with her i-Pad during class. In addition to the rules for preposition use, she doesn’t know that Korea never had “ownership” of the islets until they seized them in 1954, so the US government couldn’t abolish anything. After World War II, the Americans upheld the Japanese ownership of the islands that dated from 1905 and rejected the Korean claim through the peace treaty.

And now we fly off the board entirely and into the world of the vernacular South Korean news media, which always has one foot in the gutter and every columnist is Drama Queen for a Day in drag. Lee Jeh-yeong got a whiff of the story and wrote a column for the Korean site Ajunews. Lee is being the pundit, so here’s how he starts:

“I visited Japan in 1990. One evening, I asked a young man in the subway for directions. He was true to the famous Japanese reputation for kindness by giving me very detailed instructions. But he kept repeating the same words in clumsy English two or three times. I thought this was strange, and wondered if he was being too kind. Just then I realized what was really happening. This young Japanese man, who had alcohol on his breath, somehow wanted to show off to his Japanese friends that he was good at English.”

That’s one possibility. Another is that alcohol had loosened the man’s tongue at the expense of briskness. We’ve all seen it happen. Yet another is that Lee’s English isn’t very good, and the Japanese man wasn’t sure that he understood. A fourth is that the Japanese man lacked confidence in his own English and was trying hard to convey the information to Lee. Finally, maybe he was just being kind. Everyone else in the world who visits Japan thinks their kindness to befuddled strangers is delightful. Lee complains about it and looks for ulterior motives.

Then again, the idea of being kind to foreigners struggling with the language might be a foreign concept for Lee. I was once lashed with a torrent of verbal abuse from a young female clerk in a Busan supermarket because my very rudimentary Korean wasn’t good enough to understand her instructions on where they stocked the instant kalguksu I wanted to buy and take back home. I have no idea what she said, but she was behaving as if I had tried to slip my hand up her dress. It was all I could do to keep from laughing in her face. Finding similar stories on the Web is easy to do.

After ranting for a few paragraphs, Lee concludes:

“The Japanese themselves will probably never admit it, but they have now developed an inferiority complex towards the Republic of Korea (大韓民国). They’ve added a “Korean complex” to their “White complex”, and Japan’s far right has been overcome by a profound dread. They’re anti-Korean and anti-Korean wave. If they take one more step, they’ll be shouting for all the foreigners to get out of Japan.”

See what you would have missed if you hadn’t gone dumpster diving?

The key passage came in the middle, however:

“Mass culture is like the water of a river. It isn’t possible to stop the flow of the river through artificial means. In the past, we indiscriminately banned Japanese culture, but at the time, many Koreans thought Japan = First Class and were infatuated with Japanese culture. During the colonial occupation, and then until the 1990s, our inferiority complex towards Japan drove a hostile reaction toward Japan, the Japanese, and Japanese culture. Now, however, our national brand is ranked #7 and the Japanese national brand is ranked #27. They fear Korea and are rushing headlong into anti-Korean sentiment and banning the Korean wave.”

I’ve always thought mass culture more closely resembled chewing gum than the waters of a mighty river, but we can let that pass. After all, many people outside of South Korea enjoy their version of disposable television programming and music. More important is the selective amnesia that Lee shares with his readers.

Japanese pop culture was prohibited entirely in South Korean until 1998 — only 14 years ago. Deregulation began that year on 20 October. The government permitted manga to be sold and award-winning movies from international festivals to be shown in theaters, but not on television. There have since been three more deregulations.

* As of 10 September 1999, concerts were permitted in venues with 2,000 seats or fewer, though the prohibition on CD sales and broadcasting remained. More movies were permitted, still in theaters only.

* As of 27 June 2000, international award-winning film manga could be shown in theaters only. The restriction on the number of seats in halls for musical concerts was lifted, but CD sales and broadcasting was still forbidden. Some electronic games were allowed to be sold, except television games such as Nintendo. Some sports, documentary, and news programs could be broadcast on television.

* As of 1 January 2004, the screening of all movies and manga was allowed in theaters only, music could be sold in shops, and television dramas were allowed on cable channels, with age restrictions.

As far as I can determine — Koreans aren’t forthcoming about this — it is still illegal today to broadcast Japanese television dramas, films, cartoons, and concerts on regular television, or Japanese music on the radio.

South Koreans also seem to be as hazy on history as Janine over at MTV Iggy. Even the academics, as Prof. Ishii Ken’ichi demonstrates. He starts by citing a passage in Media Asia:

Japan and Korea, both of which had blocked the importation of each other’s cultural products, have opened their media markets in recent years. Since 1989, the Korean government has gradually lifted the gate for several cultural products, such as Japanese pop music records, limited films and television programmes and animation. Korean television dramas traditionally limited their portrayals of Japanese to those who participated in Japan’s colonization of Korea. Meanwhile, Japan permitted, for the first time, the broadcasting of Korean music on the air in June 2000. (Dal Yong Jin, “Regionalization of East Asia in 1990s”, Media Asia, 29(4), p227, 2003)

Note that Dal gives the Koreans credit for lifting some of their restrictions first before the Japanese eliminated their imaginary ones. But Prof. Ishii quickly sets the record straight. The emphasis is his:

“Media Asia” is one of the most prestigious academic journals on media and communications in Asia. Also Dal Yong Jin is a Korean Ph.D. candidate majoring in media and cultures, who will probably become a professor in media and communications. However, the above quoted paragraph is based on a completely wrong belief. In fact, Japan has never prohibited any foreign cultures (including Korean ones) on TV. Thus, it was impossible for Japan to “permit for the first time the broadcasting of Korean music in 2000”.

Prof. Ishii is generous and calls it a misconception. It’s also possible that Dal either made the story up, or took the word of someone else who made the story up.

Why would someone from a country with these Taliban-lite broadcast restrictions, both past and present, foam at the cybermouth about Japan adding to its White Complex with a Korea Complex and being on the verge of driving all the foreigners out of the country?

The likely answer is, to use a common sports expression, that the Japanese and the Japanese presence are “in their heads“ in a way that the Koreans never have been, aren’t now, and never will be in Japanese heads. Articles with this sort of content and language about South Korea do not exist in Japan outside of a dumpster. It’s difficult to find anything remotely similar to this even on the “far right” sites they like to complain about. Perhaps the best explanation is to be found by consulting Stedman’s Medical Dictionary or a psychiatric journal.

Because this is South Korea, there is also the aspect of plagiarism. Keeping the locals from seeing the original enables South Korean industry in general, and the media industry in particular, to snatch it for themselves without royalties or attribution. For example, here’s a comparison of Japanese originals with the South Korean knockoffs. (I’ve seen another in Korean shops myself.) Just yesterday, a thread popped up on the Korean Internet complaining that the opening scene to a music program hosted by the singer HaHa was ripped off from a Japanese commercial for Softbank, a telecommunications and Internet company. Here’s the Softbank ad:

And here’s the HaHa intro:

Finally, a third reason is green old envy. Any Japanese success internationally causes the gnashing of Korean teeth domestically. When the sanctions on Japanese culture were first partially lifted in South Korea in 1998, the Japanese government sponsored a series of events for Japan Week. One was a concert by Japanese singer Sawa Tomoe, whose mother is Korean and who spent some of her childhood in that country. She sang songs in Korean and English, and the South Korean government gave her permission to perform two songs in Japanese. One of those songs, as this article describes, was “’Kokoro’ (Heart), in which she put to her own melody a famous Korean poem that her grandfather–a renowned Korean poet himself–had translated into Japanese.”

Ms. Sawa wanted to sing another song in English, but decided against it after the Koreans made it clear they were displeased with her choice. The song the South Korean government didn’t want their countrymen to hear a woman of partial Korean heritage sing, even in a third language, says all you need to know about how deep the Japanese are in their envious heads.

The lyrics were neither politically nor socially controversial. Rather, they are about a lonely man trying to cheer himself up and give himself encouragement. Here it is in the original Japanese with the original singer.

UPDATE: Reader Avery M took the trouble to translate the Japanese Wiki page on Korean media censorship into English, and sent us the link. Thanks, Avery!

Posted in Arts, I couldn't make this up if I tried, International relations, Mass media, Music, Popular culture, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »

Ichigen koji (167)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, September 10, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

At election time in the U.S., actors and celebrities make public statements about the parties they support and sometimes give campaign speeches. Perhaps they’re concerned that they’ll be seen as ignoramuses who know nothing of politics unless they speak out. Show business people in Japan also criticize those political parties which are down in the polls, perhaps to pander to the public, but they seldom express their real political opinions. Where did that difference come from?

– Matsuda Kota, upper house member of Your Party, and the founder of Tully’s Japan

Posted in Politics, Popular culture, Quotations, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

All you have to do is look (41)

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 7, 2012

Cosplay on a Kyoto train

Photo from the Sankei Shimbun

Posted in Photographs and videos, Popular culture | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Forbidden fruit

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, September 6, 2012

Step out of your cave: the world awaits you like a garden. The wind is laden with heavy fragrance that longs for you; and all the brooks would like to run after you. All things long for you.

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Most human beings spend their lives making mechanical reactions to exterior challenges. Just press any psychic button and you can make a man respond with irritation or shock or tears or envy. Not developed beyond the mechanical stage, he is the slave of everyone who presses the buttons.

– Vernon Howard

THREE years ago this month, a Seoul blogger visited the “South Korea-Japan Exchange Festival 2009 in Seoul”. This event was inaugurated in 2005 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the two countries. It was held simultaneously in both countries that year for the first time.

The blogger’s name is given in the Japanese katakana alphabet and not Chinese characters in the report I read, so I won’t try to Romanize it. He was inspired to write because he saw a presentation of the activities at the Kanto Festival held every summer in Akita and wanted to describe it for his South Korean readers. He added the following.

*****
The festival will also be held in Tokyo this year, and I’ve read that many Japanese will be singing Korean songs at the event. This has been widely covered by the South Korean mass media.

Until the 1980s, I had no contact with Japanese culture at all. But it was not possible to prevent the influx of culture. As was Adam when he ate the forbidden fruit, we were attracted to that culture, particularly the manga, the films, and the music.

Conditions in South Korea today are completely different. But the South Korean government has made little progress in opening up to Japanese culture. For example, we still can’t listen to J-pop on terrestrial radio, or regularly watch Japanese programs on TV.

I hope that a new cultural interaction arises as a result friendship deepens between the two countries. Korean culture is popular in Japan now, and South Korean television programs are shown in Japan. Isn’t there a need for the government to promote an opening and accept more Japanese culture?

(end translation)

Reading this, I was reminded that one of the most popular pieces of classical music during the U.S.-Soviet Cold War era was the Rimsky-Korsakov orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Nobody cared that both of them were Russian.

It would seem that if rules similar to those in South Korea were applied in the United States at that time, Americans wouldn’t have been able to listen to that music.

Why, it’s almost as if some powerful elements in the South Korean establishment don’t want Koreans to get along with the Japanese…

Meanwhile, the Japan-South Korea Festival 2012 in Tokyo will be held from 29 September to 2 October, and the companion event is still scheduled for 3 October, a holiday, in Seoul.

Speaking of the Kanto Festival in Akita, by the way, it’s no surprise that the South Korean blogger was impressed. It was held from 3-6 August this year, and this is what it looked like. Stick with it to see what they do with those lanterns. They’re said to represent rice plants.

Posted in Festivals, International relations, Japanese-Korean amity, Popular culture, South Korea | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

All you have to do is look (40)

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, September 6, 2012

One hundred Doraemons at an event last month in Hong Kong. It is Doraemon’s 100th birthday this week (according to the story).

Posted in China, Photographs and videos, Popular culture | 1 Comment »

All you have to do is look (34)

Posted by ampontan on Friday, August 31, 2012

The morning hula dances held on the second and fourth Sundays of the month on the beach at Ibusuki, Kagoshima, since April. Anyone can join.

Posted in Photographs and videos, Popular culture | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, August 30, 2012

From the 7 August 2002 Donga Ilbo

The Society that Promotes Lies

Hong Chan-shik, Editorial Committee (Excerpt)

* Accounts that the Koreans are skillful liars have sometimes appeared in books written by foreign missionaries and preachers who visited in the latter part of the Joseon dynasty.

In the 1920s novelist Lee Gwang-su cited several shortcomings of the Koreans when he offered a proposal for remodeling the race. Lying was one of them.

Lying is still so chronic that one sometimes today hears the phrase “The Republic of Lies”. While I can’t deny it, I can’t agree with the view that this is due to the national character of the Korean people.

* There’s been a sharp increase in perjury in South Korean courtrooms

Courts are sometimes referred to a Theater of Lies. It is not impossible to understand why an accused party, driven into a difficult situation during a proceeding where others are arguing that he committed a crime, would easily resort to a lie, the Devil’s temptation.

Along with hearings, which have further degenerated into a Theater of Lies, this is a self-portrait of shame.

The problem is how to create a society in which the power of truth erupts and overflows, without the Korean people falling into self-condemnation.

What upright and proper states share throughout the world is a value system based on thrift and honest poverty. They are not bound by ties of blood to family and relatives.

As long as money and authority are the supreme constituent elements of society, an upright life, even in poverty, will be nothing but the butt of jokes. There will be no reduction of lies at all.

From the 13 February 2003 Chosun Ilbo

Perjury-Inundated Courtrooms

Bak Se-yong (Excerpt)

Perjury, in which innocent people are set up as criminals and the crime of the person who should receive the punishment is concealed, is running rampant in courtrooms. It is when a witness lies at a hearing to determine the truth, such a civil or criminal trial or an administrative lawsuit.

Prosecutors indicted 1,343 people for perjury in 2002. This is an increase of nearly 60% from the 845 indicted in 1998. That is one thing in criminal trials, where prosecutors are present, but civil trials have come to be known as a Theater of Lies.

The difference with Japan in particular, where there is almost no perjury, is clear from the statistics alone.

In 2000, 1,198 people were prosecuted for perjury in South Korea. Five people were prosecuted in Japan.

Allowing for the differences in population between the two countries, the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office says that perjury in this country is 671 times greater than in Japan.

The prosecutors say the primary reasons perjury is so prevalent are the social trend that doesn’t consider lies to be that serious, and the compassion in Korean culture. (情にもろい)

From The Collapse of South Korean Ethics, O Seon-hwa, 2008

Why has lying become so chronic in South Korean society?

I view this as having originated in the concept of the “Righteousness of Flesh and Blood” (身内正義) from the society based on strong blood ties during the days of the Joseon Dynasty. In that society, the unethical ethics arose that any unlawful act against someone from outside was permissible if it benefited one’s family (or group). Even today, this tradition runs riot, and has broken down into the concept of the “Righteousness of the Self”.

In my view, as long as society does not overcome this bad tradition, the trend will further strengthen toward a course further removed from righteousness, against a backdrop of the recent intensified market competition. This is how far South Korean society has decayed.

From the Yonhap news agency, 26 August 2012

Evidence of Dokdo (Takeshima) Domain Discovered at Site of Ancient Silla Fort?

A fort associated with Usan, subjugated by warlord (Kim) Isabu in the 6th century, was discovered in Gangneung, Gangwon, it was learned on the 26th. Ulleong and Dokdo (Takeshima) are viewed as the territory of Usan. This is the focus of interest as important historical evidence proving that Usan was a subject territory of Silla, and that Dokdo was part of the nation on the Korean Peninsula 1,500 years ago.

The discovered remains of the fort indicate that Isabu conducted an expedition to conquer Usan from a base in the Gangneung area. The remains of the fort are thought to date from the early 6th century. They were found at the site where it was planned to build a hotel.

The year 512, when the fort is thought to have been built, corresponds to the period Isabu, who subjugated Ulleoung and Dokdo, was the ruler of the Gangneung area.

(See this Korea Times article for additional information.)

From the 31 August 2011 edition of the weekly Shukan Post

The Dokdo Museum located on Ulleong is the only museum in South Korea devoted to territory. It has several surprising exhibits. One is a relief map at the entrance that claims Usan = Dokdo. The relative positions of Ulleong and Usan are shown based on the oldest surviving map of the Korean Peninsula, Paldo Jido (or Chongdo) (1530). To the left (west) is Ulleong, and to the right (east) is Usan, with a distance between them of 87.4 kilometers. But the actual map itself shows Usan to the left and Ulleong to the right. It is intentionally falsified material to show that Usan = Dokdo.

The display in the museum interior:

In fact, an accurate version of the map is carved in stone outside the museum. In other words, contradictory maps are openly displayed at the exterior and interior of the museum. The stone carving, incidentally, also claims that Tsushima is Korean territory.

According to the 5 May 2007 edition of the Sankei Shimbun, their reporter asked the museum about the relief map (at the front) and they said it would be “removed soon”. It’s still there after four years.

(According to a report in Japan’s Zakzak this week, it’s still there now.)

The Paldo Jido. Usan is the island to the left, and Ulleong is the island to the right in the Sea of Japan, as highlighted.

An accurate contemporary map, with Takeshima/Dokdo identified as the Liancourt Rocks. Ulleong is the unmarked island to the west:

From the Joongang Ilbo 29 August 2012

This map of Japan is included in the Shinsen Chishi geography textbook printed with the authorization of Japan’s Education Ministry in 1887. Both Ulleong and Dokdo (Takeshima) are within the horizontal line that demarcates Korean territory. The island within the circle in the magnified area is Dokdo. Japanese territory is shown by horizontal lines. (Photograph: Dokdo Museum)

Here is the map shown in the newspaper:

Readers are invited to offer possible explanations for how the horizontal line delineates Korean and Japanese territory.

Posted in International relations, Popular culture, Social trends, South Korea, Traditions | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Your heads are too high

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, August 29, 2012

SEPTEMBER is almost here, and that means it’s time to get ready for the 7th Udatsu Komon Matsuri held every year in Mima, Tokushima. The event, which starts on the 15th, is something of a Japanese-style Renaissance fair for the Edo period. People walk in parades dressed in the clothing of the age. There will be a police marching band, short drama sketches, musical performances, and dancing, including the nationally famous Awa Odori. Actors from the Toei Kyoto Studio Park, the site of a recreated Edo-period town used as a set in television programs and movies, will offer sword fighting lessons and joke around with the visitors. It will also feature the appearance of a group dressed as the six regular cast members of Mito Komon, the popular television series set in the era.

In fact, that’s the reason the festival was created — to commemorate the use of Mima as the location for filming the series. The festival will continue to be held, even though the series was cancelled last year.

Mito Komon is another name used to refer to Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1701), the second head of the old Mito domain. That was in modern-day Ibaragi, a few hundred miles to the northeast of Mima. Mitsukuni was the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first of the Edo period shoguns. He was the first daimyo to prohibit junshi, the practice in which retainers of feudal lords followed their masters in death when they committed ritual suicide after a defeat in battle. He is known for his interest in historical research and cultural preservation. He is also said to be the first person in Japan to have eaten cheese. Korakuen Stadium, the baseball park for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants from 1937 to 1988, was built on land that was once his Tokyo estate. His birthplace is now a Shinto shrine. That’s it in the photo below.

Photo by Meinaka Miyuki

Legends arose about Mitsukuni’s sayings and conduct even when he was alive, but they took on an existence of their own in the mid-19th century. Fictional stories were created of his incognito travels throughout the country taking up the cause of the common people suffering at the hands of oppressive rulers, and a few were made into kabuki dramas. Some people think these stories originated from Mitsukuni’s real tours of the Mito area in connection with his position and his interest in historical and cultural matters.

A written collection of these stories was published in the 19th century, and the first Mito Komon movie was filmed in 1910. There were 14 movies by 1920, and many more afterward. There have also been 15 separate Mito Komon television series. The most famous of these, which everyone alive at the time in Japan has seen, ran from 1969 to 1983 and had 381 episodes. When TBS finally cancelled production last year, the mayor of Mito and other area mayors visited the studio to ask that it be continued because of its beneficial impact on tourism. TBS declined, but assured them there would be repeats.

The star of the 69-83 series was Tono Eijiro (1907-1904), a well-known actor in movies and television. He had roles in the Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, and played the part of Admiral Nagumo Chuichi, the director of the air attacks on Pearl Harbor, in the film Tora! Tora! Tora! He became so famous in the Mito Komon role that a few older people, seeing him on the street in ordinary clothes in real life, dropped to their knees in a deep bow. (Tono told an interviewer that he never knew quite how to handle this.)

The program was broadcast in the San Francisco Bay Area on UHF just before the advent of cable. As a beginning student of the Japanese language, I watched the three or four Japanese-language shows offered by the station to improve my linguistic skills and glean what I could of popular culture.

I would have watched anything that was on, but it quickly became apparent that Mito Komon was a lot of fun, even though I understood only about 10% of the dialogue at the time. The actors in this particular series were perfect for the parts, particularly Tono. It had unique incidental music that was immediately recognizable. It was based on the winning theme of a group of crusaders — one a Tokugawa, another a ninja —- traveling incognito around the country righting the wrongs the farmers and craftsmen suffered at the hands of the powerful.

Best of all was the climactic scene that appeared at the same point in every episode, in which the good guys fought it out with the bad guys, who were often armed with guns. At length Kaku-san, one of Mito Komon’s retainers, would whip out a medicine case bearing the Mitsukuni family crest. Kaku-san demanded to know (translated from the period speech to today’s vernacular), “Just who do you think this is?” The other retainer followed up with, “Zu ga takai! Hikaero!” Literally, that’s something like “Your heads are (too) high! Desist!”

You can see how everybody responded to that command in this video. Some clever guy created a one-minute Mito Komon summary for Youtube that hits all the high points. It starts with the theme song (that everyone in the country could probably sing by heart), shows the classic scene with the medicine case, and then jumps to the closing Mito Komon laugh, which signified all’s well that ends well. (Tono said it took him three years to perfect.) It ends, as did the program, with the group walking off down the road to continue their travels to the following week’s adventure. The narrator himself was famous for his voice-overs on Japanese television at the time.

What better way to get in the mood if you plan on visiting the Udatsu Komon Matsuri next month?

Posted in History, Popular culture | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Lanterns, lions, and Taiwanese proto-pub rock

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, August 25, 2012

OF the many cultural treasures in South Korea, one of the finest is the Gyeongbok Palace in northern Seoul. Built in 1394 and rebuilt in 1867, it was the main palace of the Joseon dynasty. It’s really a complex rather than a single building, and it’s also the site of the National Folk Museum and National Palace Museum. Naturally, it’s a popular destination for tourists, both foreign and domestic. One of the attractions is the hourly changing of the guards, which is more frequent that the similar ceremony at Buckingham Palace. That’s a photo of the Gyeongbok Palace gate above.

Gyeongbokgung is accessible by Line #3 on the Seoul subway, which has a station nearby. Five years ago, the officials in charge of such things came up with the idea of using models of traditional Korean lanterns to light the corridor from the subway to Exit #5.

They used a design identical to that of the stone lantern in front of the Muryangsu Hall at the Buseok Buddhist temple in Yeoungju. The temple was built in 676 and has become another well-known tourist attraction. The stone lantern out front has been designated as National Treasure 17. This is it:

And here are the six models of National Treasure 17 lining the Seoul subway corridor on Line #3.

Aren’t they an attractive addition to the underground corridor? It’s an improvement over plain tile walls. But only photos of the lanterns remain, because the lanterns themselves aren’t there anymore. They were taken out in June.

A group of citizen-activists with the provisional name of The Search for the Location of Cultural Treasures (the actual name is clumsier) decided to get upset about the lantern installation five years after it happened because it reminded them of the stone lanterns that line the main pathway to Shinto shrines in Japan. Therefore, in South Korea, they fall under the category of ilje janjeh (日帝残滓), literally “detritus from the Japanese Empire”. The term is commonly used in the country’s news media.

The head of the group, a Buddhist priest named Hyemun, added that the Gyeongbok Palace is more closely associated with Confucianism than with Buddhism, so it was inappropriate to have Buddhist lanterns in the subway nearby.

The company operating the subway wanted to leave them in the corridor, but then the mass media got involved. That settled that. The company is wholly-owned by the city of Seoul, so they thought their only choice was to bend to public opinion. They weren’t happy about it, however, because the lanterns had to be dismantled by hand to be removed.

Others recalled that the same type of traditional Korean lantern which reminded some people of the detritus of the Japanese Empire also stood in front of the Changdeok Palace in Seoul. That’s another one of the Joseon Dynasty palaces, and this one dates from 1412. The lantern there stood outside, so it was easier to remove in February. At last report, the traditional Korean lantern Japanese Empire detritus at the Cheongwadae, or Blue House, the office and residence of the South Korean head of state, is still there.

Lions

Still, the Koreans had it a lot easier than the Japanese would if the same bee were to buzz in their bonnets. The latest expample of purifying their line of sight of the imperial detritus of centuries worth of Korean tradition involved only the removal of six elaborate light fixtures in the Seoul subway and a cultural relic at a palace. So far.

But Japan has more than 88,000 Shinto shrines nationwide, ranging from large facilities with more than a million visitors a year to plain neighborhood wooden structures smaller than the average house. Large or small, almost all of them have a pair of lion-like statues standing guard to ward off evil from the premises. Here’s a photo of one.

They’re called koma-inu, and the name literally means “Korean dog”. The word koma was used in ancient times for the Korean Peninsula.

The Japanese think they were of Indian Buddhist origin, but the models they used came from China through the Korean Peninsula. If Japan were to be seized by a detritus disposal spasm, it would take years to remove these Buddhist images at Shinto facilities that have Korea in their name. Their associations are closer to the unclean than the Korean lanterns.

Not all of the statuary at the 88,000 shrines would be removed. Some of them have foxes instead of koma-inu. And the Mimeguri Shinto shrine, in Tokyo’s Kuroda Ward, has the statue of a real lion.

No one knows when the Mimeguri shrine was founded, but it was definitely there in 1693. The tutelary deity of the shrine is Mitsui Takatoshi, the founder of the Tokyo store in 1673 that later became the Mitsukoshi department store. It was called Echigoya in those days, and it’s shown on the left in this Hiroshige print.

The modern Mitsukoshi was modeled after Harrods in London, and their main store in Tokyo has a statue of the same sort of lion on the first floor. That lion was copied from the beasts that surround the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Square. The British Empire detritus at the Mimeguri shrine was once on the first floor of Mitsukoshi’s Ikebukuro store. The shrine asked for it when the store closed.

That’s not the only oddity at the shrine. Shinto shrines have a gate with two columns at the entrance called a torii. This shrine has a tori with three columns arranged in a triangular shape.

It was modeled after the torii at the Konoshima Shinto shrine in Kyoto, which has one of a handful of triple toriis in the country. The idea is that the third column connects the shrine to another shrine on the next lot. This one came from the Mitsui estate. In fact, the shrine’s name in Japanese (三囲) can also be read as Mitsui.

There are also stone lanterns of the traditional Japanese Empire detritus variety on the grounds, without any visible connection to the Mitsui family business.

They do look a bit like Korean National Treasure 17, but then the statue of the beast at the main gate of Gyeongbokgung also looks a bit like some of the Korean lions at Shinto shrines. Except those are really Chinese.

Isn’t East Asia fun?

And because it isn’t possible to have too much East Asian fun, let’s have some more! The Taiwanese duo in the video below was known as the King of Kinmen, and the style of music they’re playing is called nakashi. Here’s an explanation of its origin:

(A)ccording to Tsan Yi-cheng (詹益城), who was once one of Taiwan’s most recognized faces on the nakashi scene, the most credible of these stories gives credit to Japanese sailors during the early 1900s for inventing this primitive form of pub rock.

“Nakashi originated in port towns such Tamsui and Keelung. Japanese sailors would come ashore and, being sailors, frequent bars. Of course there were no tape or CD players, so the sailors had to make their own entertainment,” Tsan said. “So they performed music which took on aspects of enka, or Japanese country music and filled it with lyrics about roaming the world and having a girl in every port.”

According to Tsan, the result of this odd musical coupling was unlike anything people in Taiwan had ever seen or heard before. Until the Japanese sailors came along, local pub and teahouse bands were still using traditional Chinese classical instruments rather than western ones.

“With their guitars, accordions and appetite for good times, Japanese sailors revolutionized bar and teahouse music in Taiwan,” the Peitou-based nakashi star said. “They enthralled crowds in teahouses and bars and, of course, drove the women wild with their contemporary musical style.” As Japan’s colonization of Taiwan continued, nakashi slowly became the music of choice for both the occupying forces as well as the Taiwanese.

As more locals began to pick up accordions and guitars, however, nakashi slowly became localized. Instead of drawing on enka for inspiration, Taiwan’s nakashi players added elements of Fujienese and Taiwanese folk to the tunes.

Instead of forming disposal squads of purity inspectors, the Taiwanese turned their detritus of Imperial Japan into a golden good time.

Nagashi with a g, by the way, is the word for the practice in Japan of singers and musicians going from bar to bar at night to perform for tips. That’s probably the origin of the Taiwanese term. When I first arrived in Japan, I knew one old nagashi singer who accompanied himself with an acoustic guitar, but I haven’t seen him or anyone else do it in quite a while.

Here’s what it looked and sounded like in Taiwan during a nagashi renaissance.

Posted in Arts, History, Music, Popular culture, Religion, Shrines and Temples, South Korea, Traditions, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Japanese bellydancers

Posted by ampontan on Friday, August 24, 2012

IT’S not well known outside the country, but the Japanese also enjoy participating in and watching their own variety of belly dancing. Unlike the Middle Eastern beauties usually associated with the art, however, these dancers have curves in all the wrong places. They’re fat guys who hide their faces.

Instead of showing their own ugly mugs, these belly dancers take off their shirts to have faces painted on their chests. They stick dummy arms of the side of their hips, hold a covering over their heads, and swing and sway with the music. The fatter the dancer, the more they sway, and the funnier their faces become.

Hey, give ‘em a break! It gives a turn on center stage to guys who people usually wouldn’t look at twice.

In fact, Furano, a town of about 24,000 people in Hokkaido, has been giving those guys that chance for the past 44 years by holding a midsummer festival for the belly dancers. It’s called the Hokkai Heso Matsuri (heso means navel), and the last one attracted 3,700 shirtless dancers. Some of them danced as members of the 57 groups that take part. People usually register in advance, but like most Japanese festivals, no one cares if someone jumps in on the spur of the moment. In addition, 130 foreigners added their avoirdupois to the festivities.

Me, I’d rather watch dancing women with painted bodies, but we can’t always get what we want, can we?

A Youtube? Isn’t there always a Youtube?

Posted in Popular culture | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »