Thigh Exhibition

You may be wondering what exactly a thigh exhibition may be, but it’s just as it sounds!  It’s a photo exhibition going on in Tokyo by the Japanese artist, Yuria.  It’s not her first rodeo either, according to RN’s article.  When I first read the article, I laughed at the thought of it with a slight interest in going.  But then a Japanese friend of mine went to check it out during the end of GW (Golden Week, an extended vacation period in Japan where many Japanese travel within and outside of Japan during the first week of May) but there was a line and he couldn’t be bothered.  After hearing his attempt, I decided that I definitely wanted to check it out.  Maybe it was because another fellow guy went, or maybe I was more interested in seeing the many people lining up to see this futomomo (“thigh” in Japanese) exhibition.  Or, perhaps this was an excuse I told myself to justify my real curiosity!

On this gloomy and muggy Tuesday morning, I departed from Asakusa down south towards the exhibition on my bike I got off Rakuten.  I stopped by 7 Eleven because of course I’m craving a Melon Pan, and let’s face it, 7 Eleven has one of the best Melon Pans out of all the Japanese conbinis, or convenience stores.  Expecting a line, I figured I would eat my lovely breakfast on line while waiting to satisfy my curiosity.  I turn the corner on my bike and see this sight:

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“Obviously I’m in the right place,” I thought to myself.  No line. Well there goes my chance to eat my breakfast before getting in, feeling slightly disappointed.  Split second later, I’m more concerned with what is in store for me.   I enter this typical Japanese complex and ring the button for the elevator to take me up to thigh heaven.  Arriving on the 5th floor, the elevator doors open and I’m greeted by a gentleman coordinating traffic – not that it was crowded or anything; it is Tuesday morning after all.  I pay the ¥500 entrance fee and receive a thigh entrance ticket and a thigh postcard!  A postcard! I thought!  If you’re not familiar with Japan or Korea, postcards aren’t all that widely available as one would think.  There are what seems to be college students and some salarymen, or businessmen, enjoying the sights.

I hear cameras snapping photos and turn to see a chick snapping away.  Also noticed a few men smirking as they focused on taking their pictures.  Things like this always put me in a weird position – should I view this as creepy, or normal?  As I ponder ethics, I’m standing in the middle of the exhibition in my smart-casual attire sweating from my rushed bike ride here.  Rolling up my sleeves and wiping sweat off my forehead with my One Piece X wrist sweatband, I’m slowly making my way around observing the art and their admirers while trying not to stand out.  There’s always a guy sweating at one of these events and it’s always creepy – I might’ve been that creepy guy standing there.  Still confused about my ethical standing, I’m switching back and forth between looking seriously interested and smirking…  Please tell me I’m not the only one who would be facing this internal battle!

After making a full rotation around the exhibition and carefully observing my fellow peers, I decide to join them in snapping some pics myself!

img_7667The bottom left portion of this collage shows OLs (office ladies, a term used by the Japanese for office ladies, and often these OLs are working there with the motive of finding a suitable partner).  It’s a common thing for men to like fine legs as these, but is it common to find these snapshots focusing on thighs in every day situations in the office in an exhibition?  This exhibition really sexualizes women thighs and legs.  This is when it hit me – I can understand this being accepted, and here I was acknowledging and indulging. 

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I looked at this collection of photos and thought about the photo shoot itself.  “Act cute”, “now take off your skirt slowly”, “Lotion up them thighs.”  I saw that Yuria really understood the sexual aspect of thighs and legs.  It felt like an AV photo shoot, but with the sole focus on the thigh and legs.

A memory came to mind as I stared at this tennis ball.  It was back to when I was in Korea’s countryside with my South African and American buddies – a conversation on thigh gaps.  And knowing Japan, and Korea, this could be another unorthodox exercise for thigh gaps.  Like the jaw/chin slimming massaging roller

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Try this with your girl next time, would she appreciate it, or be offended?  Screw that, guys gotta step up and show off them calves.

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Somehow so symmetrically satisfying.

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Last but not least. Actually this shot might be my personal favorite. 

There are also photo collections, post cards, bookmarkers, and folder sleeves with your favorite thighs on sale ranging from ¥100-1900.  I bought a post card set to send to some family and friend so, and  to myself.  If you’re reading this, you probably know who you are, do expect something in the mail soon! 

After purchasing my post cards, I head out to the elevator when the guy motions to an omikuji box (fortune-telling papers, like a message you’d get with your cliche fortune cookie), which happens to be called a “momo mikuji,” as a play on words. 


After smirking and chuckling like my quiet and buff Filipino friend, he mentions that there’s also a futomomo picture included. 🤔☺️😏 got one for ¥100. 


And that’s it ladies and gentlemen, the thigh exhibition.  Please let me know your thoughts! Especially if you understood my internal strife!

Bicycle Tips (Kyoto, Japan) Part 2

May be common-sense, may not be, either way I think these are significant to know before hopping on a bicycle in Kyoto or in any city in Japan!  And if you missed the first part.

  1. Try avoiding main roads as they are usually the most crowded; it may be difficult if you are only visiting Kyoto and won’t be able to get to know it well enough to use the side and back streets, but the downtown area is grid-like so if you know where north is, you’ll be fine!
  2. Do not hold an umbrella, talk/text on the phone, listen to music while riding the bicycle – it can lead to a fine.  I know a few months ago, the police started cracking down on riders whom were listening to music while riding their bicycle as it appears it was the main cause of many accidents.  The other two are not really enforced from what I’ve seen thus far, and I do not condone such actions!
  3. If you noticed certain traffic light patterns already, do not go assuming it is the same all throughout Kyoto, or Japan!  It is best to wait for the light to turn green.
  4. Take into consideration that as you go further north in the city of Kyoto, there is an incline making it a little bit tougher to ride than when going south.  Once I rode for 1 hour from the northeast part of Kyoto to the southwest part, and then from there to the southeast to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷神社), and finally from there all the way back up north; I must say, it was dreadful!  That’s around 10km with an incline, for me at the time, it was considered vigorous and not fun.
  5. It is illegal to ride your bicycle on the main roads in the downtown area; this includes sidewalks as well as the roads.  Policemen are usually on the lookout in this area so it is best to avoid it altogether and if anything simply try researching a path consisting of small back roads prior to leaving the house.

Just be careful!  Although the Japanese are known to obey the rules and laws to a T, they actually do not all do!

Can’t buy the JR Pass?

You’ve got some sort of long-term visa in Japan and thus ineligible for the JR pass – what are your options?

  • Airplanes
  • Buses
  • Trains

Airplanes
You can use your typical flight arrangement websites to set you up, but if you aren’t made of money then you’ll might want to look into budget airlines in Japan.  This is a news article for 2012 and thus a bit outdated but it comes in handy.  These budget airlines are always providing promotions, sales, and the initial ticket price is usually extremely cheap, and thus difficult to obtain.  It may be worth to subscribe to their promotional emails.

Buses
There are many kinds of buses available to travel within Japan, but I would like to briefly mention just one specific kind for travelers on a budget.  Overnight buses (夜行バス / yakou basu) are generally cheaper than airplane tickets but sometimes budget airline ticket prices are cheaper than these overnight buses.  Many people rely on overnight buses and therefore the prices increase due to that demand and you’ll especially see this for weekends; if you can, it would be best to look to take these overnight buses on Tuesday, Wednesday, and/or Thursday.  Since you’ve probably lived in Japan for some time now, you probably noticed that there are some shops around selling a lot of tickets to crowds of people at a time; these places hold tickets for overnight buses as well!

Trains
Obviously you can pay an arm and a leg for a bullet train (新幹線 / shinkansen) or you can take the normal trains at the respective fixed prices, or you can purchase a Youth 18 Ticket (精神18切符 / seishin jyuuhachi kippu)!  Japan Guide has loads of information on this useful and amazing opportunity.  But to answer a few FAQs that might have popped up into your mind:

  • Anyone can purchase this ticket!  Yes, that includes people younger and older than 18…
  • It costs around 12,000 yen (<$120) and may be used up to 5 times (5 days, once used that day, you can continue using it as much as you want that day without consequence).
  • Only available 3 times a year – corresponds to the school’s vacation periods.
  • You may purchase as many tickets as you want.
  • You may share the ticket with other people.
  • If used at 11pm and then again during the same night at 12am, it will count as TWO times as it resets at midnight – in other words you can use it the same day from 12am to 11:59pm.
  • Can be purchased at any JR office.
  • These tickets are not meant to be inserted into the regular gateways but rather to be inspected by a clerk next to the gateways.
  • This ticket limits you to certain trains, local (普通電車 / futsuu densha) and rapid trains (快速電車 / kaisoku densha).  What does this mean?  It will take longer, sometimes much much longer, to get to your desired destination.  For example it took me 3 full days of traveling from Kyoto (京都) to reach the southern most port city in Hokkaido (北海道), Hakodate (函館).  Also took me the same amount of time from Kyuushuu’s Kagoshima (九州・鹿児島) to Kyoto.

For more information, I would always recommend Japan Guide and Wikitravel.

Black Burgers

You’ve probably already seen many posts that surfaced on your Facebook news feed, Twitter, or some other social media network, but the Burger King in Japan released 2 black burgers for a limited time.  Yeah, it sounds nasty doesn’t it!?  It actually wasn’t that bad to be honest.  But I could definitely live without it; one time was enough.  I mean it’s a black whopper but because of the subtle differences, it doesn’t taste like a whopper; just doesn’t have the whopper effect.

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Ingredients

“To achieve the black coloring, Burger King dyed the buns and cheese with bamboo charcoal and mixed the meat with black pepper.”

“Bamboo charcoal-infused black buns and cheese…Chaliapin (sauce) and to which Burger King has added squid ink into to turn pitch-black.”

Black Pearl
The Black Pearl.  Sounds like it came from Disney’s the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series.  Although the name is quite appealing, the taste on the other hand is not quite up to par.  And let’s not even get started with its appearance!  Looks like an alien from AVP popped it right out… Anyways, the black buns and cheese flavor was quite subtle.  I must say that BK Japan did a great job with that otherwise this would’ve been unbearable to eat.  The sauce was a bit stronger and was apart of every single bite.  With that being said, it was not overwhelming at all.  And I dislike squid ink, so that should count for something.  I read that there was black pepper in the beef patties but didn’t particularly realize it; maybe the sauce masked it.  Well for alien vomit, this was not so bad!

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Black Diamond
This burger is just the Black Pearl but with onions, tomatoes, and lettuce.  And it costs about $2 more!  But at least it came with a free Coke (limited promotion apparently)!  I only wanted to get this burger but I felt that I would receive some criticisms from a cousin of mine that challenged me.  So I walked into the BK on Sanjo in Kyoto and ordered the Black Pearl, just the hamburger, and the Black Diamond with the Coke.  The cashier questioned with concerned eyes and reconfirmed my order; either because the two burgers are essentially the same, with the exception of the vegetables, or because I ordered 2 burgers and that’s not quite the norm here in Japan.  Enough jibber-jabber.  This burger was tastier than the Pearl.  Maybe it’s because of the veggies that made it healthier and subconsciously made me think it tasted better.  If you look closely, you’ll see that they also add mayo to this burger.  The mix was interesting to say the least.  Can’t quite describe it, but completely understand if people were unable to eat it because of the mix.  To me, it seemed like they balanced out, but with a weird subtle aftertaste.  So I’m guessing this was the result of a health-conscious alien…

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In related news, McDonald’s has also released their own version of the black burger for Halloween.  Unfortunately it is only available at selected locations in Tokyo, but that’s only for the time being.  I think I can grow another pair and try McDonald’s version if it came to Kyoto.

Fun fact: the Japanese say McDonald’s as ma-ku-doh-na-roo-doh.  Personally I prefer Mickey D’s.  Note how the “‘s” is very important here.

So, do you have what it takes to ingest an alien’s vomit?  Let me know!

TT – How I Came to Japan

Go Go Nihon

Go! Go! Nihon is an organization that I found online that is well established on the web.  They have their own website, YouTube, Facebook, Skype and Wiki pages.  I found that this was evident enough to be legit and worth taking a risk on.  Why use an agent you ask?  Because their motto is that they’ll help you with the full Japanese visa process for free.  Considering that I was still working at the time, 50-60 hours a week to say the least, I decided to ask Go Go Nihon for their assistance.

Process

  1. Find a school
  2. Inquiry
  3. Apply
  4. Go to Japan

Before you get started…

You need to research which part of Japan you want to live in.  Do you want the city busy life?  There’s Tokyo of course but also Osaka.  Do you want something more half city, half traditional and calm?  That would be Kyoto.  Or perhaps you would love beautiful weather all year round?  Okinawa.  Maybe you love or want to experience the colder atmosphere, Hokkaido.  Japan is a little smaller than California but quite long, thus the weather and climate is different per town and city.  Beside the lifestyle and climate, can you afford to live in the place that you’re thinking of, like Tokyo?  Please research carefully; GGN has some decent material on the major cities in Japan.  This took me weeks to figure out because I’m from NYC and love the city life so it would be a nice transition to go to Tokyo, but I was worried about the expenses so I was looking at Osaka and Kyoto.  I decided to choose Kyoto over Osaka because my ultimate goal was to come and immerse myself in the culture while learning the language.  After you choose your location, you can see the available schools that are associated with GGN and decide.  They have some useful info on their website listing the differences of each school, and videos on their YouTube channel of the school, campus, former students, and teachers.

Contact GGN

After you figured all that out, contact GGN to actually start the process.  They will ask for some official documents so that they send an application to the school.  If the school decides that they’ll sponsor/accept you as a student, the visa process will start.  The visa process takes an extremely long time taking months!  So do not think you can just hop on over here.  Also something worth noting that many would not actually expect is that the government requires documentation that you have at least ¥2,000,000 ~ $20,000 so you can support your stay here.

Regarding Accommodation 

GGN will take care of everything so you’re on track to come to Japan.  You may be forced to book your flight before getting your visa because of the long process; because the price may rise if booked last minute, depending on many factors.  Approximately a month before the semester that you’re applying for, GGN will reach out to you regarding accommodation.  They will ask that you fill out a questionnaire and provide some details as to what you have in mind.  From there, they will look around and provide some options from which you can either accept, find your own accommodation, or the school’s if available.

When I used GGN, their accommodation assistance was very limited to say the least.  But they have ensured us, former GGN applicants, that they are working on improving it.  Kyoto wasn’t that popular for GGN before, but has been gaining popularity.  Thus, GGN’s staff has also increased over time.  I’m sure they’re providing better service as each day passes.

Visa

After you receive your “visa”, it’s not actually a visa yet, it’s a Certificate of Eligibility, you are to take it to the Consulate/Embassy and apply for the visa with the COE.  You’ll need a visa/passport photo, the COE, and passport to get a visa so make sure you bring it all to knock it out in one go.

Arrival

Finally, take your luggage, passport, and visa and go to Japan!  At Japan’s customs, you’ll have to provide your passport including the visa and COE.  The agent will take your COE stapled inside and you’ll be issued your residency card, your Japanese ID.  Hopefully you have some sort of accommodation and you move in.  But that’s not all!  Within 14 days of arriving, you need to go to your ward’s city hall (shiyakusho/市役所) and register your living address.  I had trouble with this because I didn’t know what constituted as a public office and such.  I decided to try the Japanese Post and yeah, you can do it there.  The written form you have to fill out is in Japanese though.  It was painful writing all the Kanji in my address that I’ve never seen before!  After many sweat drops, I got through it and handed it to the guy.  But that wasn’t actually it… During orientation for school, we went to the shiyakusho and properly registered.

And with that, YOKOSOU!

What do you think about using agencies like Go! Go! Nihon to go to a foreign country?  I’m thinking about going to South Korea as my next step, do you think I should use another agency?  I’m welcome to all recommendations 🙂