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...


Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.

The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

100K Announcement


Thanks to everyone who has read and followed my journeys in Japan from 2011 to 2017. Your support of my adventures and observations means the world to me.

In celebration of Riceandramen finally hitting 100k views, I am pleased to announce that I will be running a giveaway!

I will send one lucky person a custom box of goodies from Japan that could include (but isn't limited to): snacks, stationary, character goods, traditional Japanese crafts and more. The only limits are weight and size and your imagination (I'll be keeping everything small and light to keep the shipping costs down).

Without further ado, the details and rules of the giveaway are as follows:


The giveaway will run from today, February 25 2018 JST/ February 24 CST to March 11, 2018 JST/ March 10 CST.You don't have to be in Japan to enter: since almost all of my readers are international, this giveaway will be, too. The winner will be picked at random and notified via p…