Skip to main content

From Worshiping your Ancestors to Worshiping Your Body

This weekend was the Kanazawa festival for Obon. Obon is a national Japanese festival (festival isn't quite the right word, and neither is holiday but it's the best I've got) where you visit your family grave and pray to your ancestors, leaving flowers, incense, and occasionally their favorite items. The dates of Obon vary by location: in Kanazawa it was this weekend, just outside of Kanazawa and most other places in Japan it's in August. Very confusing. But either way, Obon is a holiday of remembering your ancestors and showing them appreciation and respect. 


This is the Kosugi family grave. The little wooden placards hanging from the metal bar have the names of the people who visited the grave on them--my host mother was kind enough to also include my name.


A view of the rest of the graveyard. Despite the on-off rain there was a constant stream of people entering and exiting the grave.

From this, I completely switched gears and went to the 21st Century Museum for most likely the last time. There were a slew of new exhibits/ exhibits I hadn't seen before because I didn't buy a ticket for the non-free areas, and I wanted to get the most out of the museum.



This was a garden of plants (fake, I think?) in a cage in the  middle of a white room. There was no glass...but you could see your reflection. I think there had to be a mirror somewhere, but I don't know how because you could see through it...terribly puzzling.


These were sideways staircases. There were doors on the sides that you could enter (much like you were entering a new landing of stairs) and walk all around in.


View from the inside.


Some nice Italian man took my photo.


Three sideways elevators, also with mirrors making the insides look like they continued on forever.


Clouds etched into panels of glass. From the front it looked like an ethereal, incredibly realistic cloud but from the side it's just layered panels of glass.


This was easily my favorite piece, but it's also the hardest to explain.


You enter into this dark hallway, and you just see a strip of light on the ground, where there's a puddle. In the puddle is the reflection of a row of buildings. The light changes as "time" passes, fading from morning to evening, night, and then morning again. Occasionally water drips down into the puddle. It was just really cool to be standing there, looking at the strip of water and feel like some sort of giant...


I crouched down to get a look at the projection of the buildings.


This is the weirdest one of all. In one of the legitimate working bathrooms is an alter to bodily fluids. The lights change color, and there's three crystals. A soundscape of birds, water etc. is overlayed with a voice celebrating bodily fluids (blood, semen, water, pee etcetc you get the point) of all kinds. It's called "You Renew You" because bathrooms are a central place of rejuvenation, supposedly? I leave that interpretation up in the air...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

Today I went with my host brother to a cat cafe for "research". Yes it is a cafe and yes it has (canned) coffee, but also I really really really wanted to go to a cat cafe. By doing a little research, I found one off a convenient train station that not only didn't require a reservation in advance, but had free drinks and was actually significantly less expensive for more time than other cafes. On to Nyankoto!

For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
They were all very social, active cats as well.

Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
The other cats often ran around chasing each other (one was a very energetic kitten, so he was always pouncing on the others) or flopping down to be pet in co…

Shibuya and Ebisu

The past few days I've been in the Shibuya and Ebisu areas (think: south-west side of Tokyo) to check out some of the up-and-coming cafes, as well as wander around the neighborhood. I've decided that wherever I go, I'm going to find something to do in addition to spending 3-5 hours in coffee shops--while the research and the people I meet are incredible I do regret that I don't get to spend as much time exploring the other aspects of Tokyo. 
Yesterday in Shibuya I checked out The Local Coffee Stand, Coffeehouse Nishiya, and The Theater Coffee. The Local is a pretty unassuming space, even though it is on a main street. It's goal is to be the sort of jumping-off point for people just getting in to specialty coffee: they showcase beans from local roaster and run a website called "Good Coffee" in both Japanese and English to help people find "that local spot" in a neighborhood near to them. I'm including a link to the site, HERE. CLICK THIS.

Co…