Random Ramblings

August 30, 2008

Here are a couple of stories that I wrote but forgot to post in the winter. At the time I was perusing the tabloids and news-sites to find funny tales of drunken scandals in the Land of the Rising Sun. But there weren’t that many!

Youths Throw Mayonnaise at Coming of Age Day
The annual coming-of-age-ceremony takes place in January each year. It’s a traditional event where those who are 20 years old that year celebrate their adulthood by dressing up and attending a special ceremony in their local town hall. The streets are brightened up by beautiful girls in fur stoles and luxurious silk kimonos that cost their parents a small fortune.
Historically, the students spend the day posing for photographs and sitting quietly, listening to numerous speeches by local dignitaries. (These speeches are, by all accounts, extremely boring.)
Now, in the West, if you filled a hall with thousands of adolescents and told them that they are now allowed to drink, smoke, and pretty much do whatever the hell they like from now on, all hell would break loose. If the newspapers are anything to go by, things seem to be headed in that direction in Japan too these days. Each year, there are more and more headlines about the drunkenness and debauchery of the new adults.
Indeed, each year I look aghast at the 20-year-old girls sat in bars, dropping cigarette ash and slopping red wine onto their priceless kimonos.

The most ridiculous incident I read about took place during the speeches this January. Two boys had obviously taken to the newly-permitted booze-guzzling, like ducks to water, and had been knocking back the beverages before the event. Bored to tears by the monotonous speeches, the pair of delinquents crashed the stage and started throwing mayonnaise at each other. To a room of 20 year olds, the sauce-splattered tearaways’ slapstick routine was probably far more entertaining than the actual speeches, but the older generation didn’t see it that way.

I’m just pleased to live in a country where mayonnaise slinging still makes the headlines!

Drunken Molesting Demon.
One of Japan’s most bizarre events is the annual Namahage festival in Akita. Every New Year’s Eve, a group of men wearing terrifying monster costumes visit all the local children at their homes and scare the shit out of them, threatening to take the little rascals away if they are naughty or disrespectful. With their grotesque masks, straw raincoats, wooden knives and haunting cries, the Namahage bogeymen are sure to subdue even the most rambunctious toddler. Good work, guys!
(Personally, I think this would be a good solution to the escalating juvenile delinquency in the West. Send guys in Freddy, Jason or Pinhead costumes around to scare some sense into young Timmy. “If you don’t eat your vegetables…I’LL TEAR YOUR SOUL APART!”)

This year, however, proceedings didn’t go according to plan. Thanks to imbibing way too much booze during the festivities, one of the Namahage fellas caused quite a scene. He got so utterly smashed that he somehow stumbled into a women’s public bath, still in his creepy costume, and started groping and chasing the naked ladies around. The poor women must have horrified. He was trying to “give them the willies,” so to speak. It sounds like a Benny Hill spoof of “The Ring”.
The lascivious loon got a severe telling off, but got off with a slap on the wrist after saying sorry. The lesson is- if someone wants to get away with groping ladies, they must be wearing a ridiculous costume. It worked for Benny Hill!

More at Japan Probe.


Sangenjaya Samba Festival

August 28, 2008

On Sunday I stumbled upon the annual Sangenjaya Samba Festival near my house. Hundreds of colourfully-costumed Brazilians and locals were exuberantly dancing down the street. There were lots of head-dresses and g-strings, a sci-fi themed performance, a sumo ritual, some guys having a pillow-fight while doing the samba, and even some bored-looking boy-scouts used as security! Weirdly enough, I seem to happen upon at least one samba festival every year, and this was significantly more impressive than the tiny, incongrous little event I ended up at last year, in the small Kanagawa town of Mitsukyo. Here are some snapshots I took on my phone.


Update

August 16, 2008

Excuse my recent lack of writing on this blog. This is mainly due to me not having a PC for a couple of months. But now I’ve finally got one (albeit a very noisy, second hand one. It was cheap so I can’t complain!)

I may have been about as prolific as J.D. Salinger lately, but this doesn’t mean I’ve had nothing to write about. On the contrary, my life has reached almost insane levels of weirdness and delirium lately. A five year relationship with my ex-girlfriend has come to an end, and I’ve consequently moved to a plush flat in central Tokyo. My love life has become surreal, eventful, unpredictable and disastrous. I’ve been to beaches, parties and music festivals. Hopefully, I’ll have time to start chronicling some of these hi-jinks soon.

In the meantime, here’s an annoying video of a kitten spray-painted pink in order so sell beer to girls.