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!

Fire Drill? No, North Korea Drill.

Hamchang N Korea Drill

The English teachers at one of my schools took me out to a nice lunch, and when we got back there was an alarm ringing outside; you could barely hear it inside but could tell that it was piercing outside.  One of the teachers said that we have to head out, in Korean of course, and I sort of get the gist and start following.

It was a fire drill, of course, so I asked, but NOPE!  It was a North Korea drill!  This goes to show how serious South Korea is about defending itself against its evil-half.

Still amazed by the news, I followed the teachers out to the tennis courts where all the students had already gathered amongst other teachers.  The Principal started to lecture all of the kids, in Korean obviously, and I clearly did not understand anything.  The funny thing though is that it was like a military lecture.  Always asking to see if the students heard/understood, and the kids would shout, “Yes,” back at the Principal each time.  I know that men have to serve at least 21 months in the military here in Korea, but starting in Middle School is a bit early don’t you think?

By the time I got back to my desk and checked Facebook, many other native EPIK teachers had already posted about the new revelation.  I mean, think about it – we have drills for fires, and natural disasters, but not for imminent attacks from hostile foreign countries; but then again, we are from the United States of America.

Leprechauns

Thursday mornings I’m scheduled to teach English at a countryside middle school and trek all the way there, but today they had exams or something so I wasn’t required to go in; instead I went to my main school and desk-warmed.  Being the great NYer I am, I efficiently used this free time to prepare a lesson for next week!  I saw a post on FB from a facilitator from EPIK’s orientation on St. Patrick’s Day, and thought I could work with that.

So I’m doing research on the holiday, the origins, related and associated things, and figured maybe I’ll include a section on leprechauns and have the students draw a comic strip.  Naturally they have to learn what leprechauns are, what characteristics they have, and implement that into their comic strips, but it was shocking to see what little visual aids that was readily and immediately available over the internet!  I remembered watching many cartoons, animations and/or movies on the little lads, and yet came up short.  Ideally I wanted a short clip displaying all their famous features, but there was always something missing!

It’s not finished yet, but it’s almost there I suppose.  It’s difficult coming up with a very educational and fun lesson plan that helps the students’ English language abilities in the long run!  Ever since I left NY to study Japanese in Japan, and now coming to Korea to teach English, I become more and more appreciative or my former teachers, and acknowledge those who can speak and/or teach foreign languages – especially as a foreign language in a foreign country!

#1 Asked Question

Part of my introduction is a slide on Rock-Paper-Scissors, and the winner gets to ask me any question they would like (or what the class tells them to ask…) and the most frequently asked question is without a doubt, “How old are you?”

If you don’t know Korean culture much, this will seem very personal, intruding and strange to you, but it’s very normal to ask someone’s age when you first meet them.  “Why?” you may ask, well it’s because they have a vertical formality culture in how you treat others, and how you speak to them.  It’s similar to the Japanese culture in this aspect, but from what I’ve seen it’s a little more prominent.  I could be wrong though.  Perhaps the reason I say this is because the age question isn’t as frequent, and the language used outside of professional settings tend to be more lax than what I’ve seen in Korea thus far (granted it hasn’t been that long yet…)

If you’re not familiar with this cultural aspect, this can range in differences from how you address someone, the conjugations used, formal language, body language, and ultimately, respect.  But I think my students are simply curious – they are after all only middle school students!

Newcomers Party

Since last week my peers from the EPIK program have been talking about their staff parties with their schools but I didn’t hear even a peep as to if we were even going to have one.  I soon came to the conclusion and assumed that since my (main) school is Catholic and they may not condone a social drinking event.  I gradually got over the expectation of a party after coming to that conclusion, and then today I was requested by my, what I like to call, “Supervising Co-Teacher,” to go to my main school after finishing my last class at another middle school to teach a class.

However as it turns out, my co-teacher for that “spontaneous” class was not prepared, or in other words, they weren’t finished recruiting students for an after-school supplemental class yet, and I wasn’t required to teach today.  After discussing some schedule details with my Supervising Co-Teacher, he nonchalantly mentioned that we had the staff party in 5 minutes!  SURPRISE!

So I hop into the car with my Supervising Co-Teacher and get a lift to the restaurant.  A quarter way through the meal, he remembers another significant detail that I will have to give another introduction and probably have to sing a song; let me tell you – this is not karaoke style, it’s with no music at all.  And for those of you whom already know me, you know that I’m tone-deaf so it’s an impossible task for me.  So it gets to my turn later and I’m about to sing Barbie Girl by Aqua when I realized that I didn’t remember all the lyrics for the chorus; of course I would remember it a bit afterwards though…. Sang it at the karaoke after party though.

About karaoking with Koreans though – they all stand and sorta cheer you on and enjoy it so it’s quite nice; as I’m used to everyone chilling in their seats (and of course cheering, if they were paying attention lol).  I think they realized that you don’t need to know the language being sung to know that someone is tone-deaf LOL… And my heart skipped a beat when they started inviting people to continue!  But luckily we just went to a cafe and chatted for a couple of hours – that’s what I’m talking about.

But boy I gotta tell ya, I’m grateful for the party as I was able to make some friends, and it’s difficult at work when everyone is so busy; especially at the beginning of the semester since everyone is still organizing schedules, materials, lesson plans and such.  Looking forward to plans to play tennis and try some other Korean foods with them next month! 🙂

Bowing

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I need to stop bowing to my students… In Korea they are technically “lower” in status and you only bow to those above you of a higher status.  I just have the habit from when I was in Japan as a student because you can’t go wrong with showing some respect.  But now it’s just a bit weird.

As you may or may not know, in Japan there are levels of bowing to show respect to certain people of a certain status.  There’s a good satire on it here.  In Korea, it’s similar I think but not quite too sure.  What I do know is that it is common for students to give a full 90 degree bow to teachers in the hallways.

So you can only imagine them bowing 90 and me bowing like a 10?  Either way, I think it’s weird for them to see a teacher of higher status bowing to them at all.  It’s just automatic!  It’s like when we thank people over the phone, we even bow then!  And I know others can definitely attest to doing the same thing, or even seen a Japanese person do it before!

Anyone want to take bets to see if I can get rid of the habit?  It’s not looking good…

The Korean Age System

You may have heard that South Korea considers the 9-months in the mother’s womb as 1 year when a baby is born, if not well now you know, but it is slightly more complicated than that.

But before we get into further details, let’s just review how we calculate our age:

  1. We start counting from 0 when we are born
  2. We age one complete year on the day of our birthday of that respective year, and this continues forever

Now, the Korean:

  1. You are 1-year-old when you are born
  2. You gain an age at the beginning of each respective year on January 1st after eating a traditional soup called ddeokgug with your family, while your birthday counts for nothing but for presents as a child (some young adults still celebrate but it is not as significant to the Koreans as it is for most other western cultures)

So it seems pretty easy and cut-clean right?  Not exactly!  When you are trying to calculate your Korean age, it is a bit difficult getting used to thinking their system.

  • For example, if you are 19 years old today in the USA, how old are you in Korea on February 22?
  • How about if you are 30 in Korean age today – how old are you in England on March 3?
  • Now let’s say you are 24 years old in Australia and your birthday is on May 2nd, but today is July 1st, how old are you in the Korean age?

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