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!

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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!

Bowing

いらっしゃいませ〜

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…

Things I missed about Japan

I spent almost 2 full months in South Korea before going back to Japan to obtain a certain Korean working visa, and realized while being in Korea, and when arriving back in Japan of several things I missed about Japan.

  1. The Food
    • I mean who doesn’t love Japanese food! Tonkatsu, Tonkotsu Ramen, Curry Rice, Yaki Udon…
  2. The Culture
    • I had gotten so damn used to how polite the Japanese have to be, and how polite they simply are, that I started to see it as the “norm.”  What I mean by the “norm,” is that now I compare every other culture to the Japanese, as well as to American too, but that defeats the purpose.
  3. The Language
    • Although I spoke some Japanese during my stay in Busan – it was not the same as talking with my Japanese friends in person and being able to use the Kansai dialect without having to concern myself with the other person not understanding it.  I mean, the language was the reason why I went to Japan in the first place!
  4. The Country
    • I was quite emotionally devastated during my last few days in Kyoto before I left for Busan, but I didn’t let it show! (not sure if that’s something I should be proud of or not…) But let’s think about this for a second – why was I feeling that way?  Was it because I didn’t want to separate from my friends?  No, it was simply the fact that I love the city of Kyoto and was sad to be leaving it after 1.3 years of living there.  And then I came back to Japan, and realized that Japan really is apart of me!  When sitting at the train station waiting for the train, I noticed myself feeling happy from just looking at the scenery in front of me; I’ve grown very fond of how Japan has developed their infrastructure and cities.  I found myself feeling the same way as I gazed upon the view from the top of Namba’s Park of Osaka city…
  5. The Order
    • Dare I say it…I actually missed how structured everything is!  It may be because of how unorganized a certain organization is here in South Korea, but it does make a significant difference for the organization, its members, and others directly and indirectly influenced by it.  Structure is necessary for organization, for society to be civil, and it comforts those afraid of risk, danger, and unknown potential and hazardous things.

I’m sure the same can be said about many other countries and their respective cultures, but do you have any similar experiences with Japan?  Let me know!

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!