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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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!

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!

Cultural Work Ethics (Japan vs. America)

Have you guys heard of the news blog RocketNews24?  It mainly focuses on Asian news, and I particularly take interest in their Japanese posts.  Anyways a few hours ago they posted this on the differences of Japanese and American workers, and I just wanted to briefly express my thoughts.

If you didn’t read the post or watch the video in the post yet, head on over there before continuing!

Alright, welcome back!  First of all, what do you guys think?  Accurate?  Exaggerated?  No comment?  Well, I think there’s some truth in there, but the American act was quite exaggerated.

Reputation
Japanese workers are known to be earnest, polite, and hard-workers.  While this is true, that isn’t to say that American workers are not.  America is very large as everyone knows, so we have the worst kinds and the best kinds of workers.  But what doesn’t sit right with me is that this only gives Americans a bad reputation.  During this internet age, many have trouble distinguishing what is true and what is satirical.  The video’s description at least mentions that it isn’t quite true, and it is comical.  But the news post does not mention so and it bothers me as it may leave an indirect lasting effect on their readers.

Exaggeration
Per Steve’s profile (the YouTube video creator), he has experience working in both the American and the Japanese markets and knows how it goes.  But this portrayal of Americans not taking their clients or work seriously is quite exaggerated.  The American dream drives many in the land of the free, and followers know best that their clients and work is very significant to their success.  Now the only question remaining is, “Are Americans as polite as the Japanese?”  This is very simple, no, they are not.  We owe this to cultural differences.

The Japanese worship their clients and are obsessed with providing the best customer service possible.  

Thus, by default we lose in this category; not that anyone is keeping count.

Differences
What Steve’s viewers and RocketNews24’s readers should be informed of is not that American workers do not take take their clients or work seriously, but that American workers can be more casual than the Japanese.

We just do business differently. 

Americans may casually speak to their clients and seem more friendly, but they aren’t rude.  Let’s be real, who would keep a business relationship with rude business partners?  Plus if all American workers pushed off their work until after their lunch break, I don’t think our productivity would be where it is today; the rate is mentioned in RocketNews24’s news source as $60/hour vs. Japan’s $40/hour.  That also brings up another good point: the processes, methods, and systems set up in America is completely different from Japan’s.  Japan spends more time processing their work than America.  You may ponder why, and it’s simply because many Japanese companies and their leaders are reluctant to change.  I mean why fix something that isn’t broken right?  It’s a very common downside to working for a Japanese company.

In the end…
Let’s focus on the big picture!  It’s like how westerners believe the Japanese are obsessed with Anime and Manga.  But in reality, many think they’re just for children and stop watching as they grow up; although most still watch Studio Ghibli’s animations.

I say let’s keep the satire alive, but c’mon be decent enough to state that it isn’t true and stop the misconceptions and misunderstandings.  

It’s already bad enough that Americans are known for not knowing anything about foreign countries, and that the Japanese also have this ignorance due to their lack of cultural diffusion from their past that continues till this day…

So, what do you think?  Do you think we should all be more careful and cautious as to how we present cultural differences so as to avoid misconceptions and hopefully bring the world closer together?  Or maybe it’s a hopeless cause and just let it all be?  

Japanese Speaking Formalities

If you ever had even the slightest interest in learning Japanese, I’m sure that you came to learn that there are quite some formality differences compared to your own mother language.

The Japanese have this categorized in a completely different manner, but this is mine:

  1. Casual
  2. Normal (Desu / Masu)
  3. Polite (Keigo)

Casual
This is what you would use with friends and family. You can sometimes use it when meeting new people, but you have to gauge the person.  For example, it may be safer to use this form when speaking to a younger person, perhaps in university or younger, than let’s say a salaryman in his 50’s.  A friend of mine at KICL did a little survey to see what people felt about the differences if someone started using this speaking form to them and how it made them feel.  To be honest the results varied; I think it doesn’t have to do with their age, but their personality.  But, you should still be cautious; maybe a little more if you look asian as sometimes the Japanese can’t tell us other asians apart.

Normal
If you are unsure of which form to use when speaking Japanese, you can always default to this and there won’t be a problem.  Even some Japanese people have problems with the polite form of speaking so they forgive foreigners as well! If you are speaking with a friend/family member, you should try to use casual as speaking in this form may create this “distance,” as they would say in Japanese, between you and the person you’re talking to.  Let’s say you use this form with someone you’re meeting for the 3rd time, they are using casual, but you’re using this normal form.  They might already consider you a friend, but if you continue to use this normal form, you may be indirectly stating that, “We’re not friends yet.”

Polite
This is what you hear in stores when you’re a customer.  You may hear a lot of “gozaimasu” as a friend of mine pointed out during his stay here not too long ago.  Even if you know basic Japanese, it may be difficult to understand this polite form as there aren’t many similarities in the pronunciations.  This form is a must for business transactions and relationships, which is why stores use it all the time.  You can always ask them to skip the Keigo and use either casual or the Desu/Masu form!

And that’s that!  Honestly, I try to stick with the normal form when speaking to strangers.  I do mess up and use some casual but I try to keep it all normal.  It’s quite difficult to switch up the forms without practice!

So what do you think?  Is it necessary to have various kinds of politeness in a single language?