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Friday, July 28, 2017

A Gay Old Time On Sailor Moon

Fact: I have never watched or read anything to do with Sailor Moon.
Fact: The closest I have ever come to Sailor Moon are the three years spent teaching junior high school English on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, where all of the female students wore uniforms of a similar fashion statement as those worn by the protagonists in the Sailor Moon anime and manga.
Fact: I once wore a Japanese school girl outfit—which is, of course, similar to a Catholic high school girl’s outfit and a Sailor Moon outfit—for Halloween parties, both in Japan and in Toronto. While I have the legs and butt to pull it off, I am not even remotely a handsome woman.
Fact: I know that there are many now-40-something men and women who enjoyed watching Sailor Moon all those years ago.
Fact: There are more 50 and 60-something men who really, really, really like Sailor Moon, and I think that’s because they really have a thing for young-looking girls in catholic school girl uniforms. Ick, doesn’t even begin to describe it.

So… while I can sometimes appear to know more about Japan than the average person, when it comes to Sailor Moon, I have pretty much no, and I mean zero, knowledge at all.

From what I once saw on TV… from their theme song, I learned all I needed to know about the Sailor Moon phenomenon and changed the channel:

"Fighting evil by moonlight
Winning love by daylight"

You think I’m kidding, but no… I heard that… those two OPENING lines of the Sailor Moon anime theme song... I said to myself "screw this crap." I didn’t want to watch it anyway, because who the hell needs to appear as though one is a child molester? 

It’s like the rock group Loverboy—great music, but damned if I was ever going to buy an album from a group with that name. No... it just sounded like a group made up to attack young girls.

Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn) - which all told translates to Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (and later as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon), first appears as a shōjo  manga (comic book) series.

Shōjo manga implies that it’s a comic book written with the young female audience in mind.... which is yet another reason why I had/have not had any desire to participate in the ogling of the manga or anime (animated cartoon series). 

Seriously old over-weight guy in light grey sweat pants and Flash tee-shirt sweating at the comic book store.. why are you watching this show? Hey Aqualung... (a reference I fear only one Fan might get)

The manga was written and drawn by Takeuchi Naoko (surname first), published in serialized format between 1991-97 in the magazine Nakayoshi.

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon follows the titular adventures of a young schoolgirl named Tsukino Usagi (surname first), as she transforms into Sailor Moon searching for the magical artifact called the "Legendary Silver Crystal" (「幻の銀水晶」 Maboroshi no Ginzuishō, lit. "Phantom Silver Crystal").

Wikipedia says that, during her journey, she leads a diverse group of comrades—the Sailor Soldiers (セーラー戦士 Sērā Senshi)—Sailor Guardians in later editions—as they battle against villains to prevent the theft of the Silver Crystal and the destruction of the Solar System.

The characters are:
Sailor Mercury; Sailor Venus Sailor Mars; Sailor Jupiter; Sailor Saturn Sailor Uranus; Sailor Neptune, Sailor Pluto, Sailor Chibi Moon, Sailor Moon, and token male Tuxedo Mask.

Okay… plot-wise it’s not that bad… not that good either... but whatever… maybe the actual episodes are more interesting... besides being the wrong sex and far, too old, I’m sure some women out there watched it when they were mere girls.

What should turn people off are are the ridiculous naming tactics. Tuxedo Mask? I can live with all the crap about the Sailor girl’s being named after the planets of our solar system…

But Sailor Moon? If she is Earth’s moon… shouldn’t she have the name Sailor Luna? Luna is the name Earth’s moon. Moon is merely a generic term. Mars has two moon’s. Do we call them Moon and Moon? No… Phobos and Deimos!!!

Sailor Chibi Moon? What the fug is that?

I won’t go on about Sailor Pluto because of Pluto being stripped of its planet status… but is there a Sailor Sol (as in Sailor Sun… Sol is the name of our star… our sun).

I think Tuxedo Mask irks me the most…  I get the stupid naming… male-oriented flicks in the James Bond genre have done it for decades, such as Plenty O’Toole and Dr. Holly Goodhead, or, god help me Pussy Galore -  a concept that is actually kind of frightening, when you are thinking of just one person.

A woman saying "I'm Plenty O'Toole" doesn't mean she can handle plenty of toole,  rather that she IS plenty of toole... which isn't the same thing. Yup... she can easily get Plenty O'Toole... but, a dirty name? Sure? But a fail at a dirty name.  Unless she was a nod of th e head towards the gay men who love Bond Girls, the name should be an answer to a ridiculous question, where the guy says: I love Goodhead, or I love my Pussy Galore... but if a straight guy implies he wants Plenty O'Toole...  the joke falls flat for the hetero male and his secret homoerotic love affair for Bond, James Bond... because then it's no longer a secret. 

Anyhow… up until around 2014, in the North American release of Sailor Moon anime, the characters Saior Uranus and Sailor Neptune were always described as being cousins—in order to explain the closeness.
In the Japanese version… the version that us the same visually as what we saw in North America (and by that I mean Europe, too)… Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are indeed lesbians. With each other… so now you get why Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were often seen kissing in the anime episodes.

What do we get from this?

Apparently American censors thought it was better to show lesbian cousins making out rather than just lesbians… because being gay isn’t as sick as being incestuous and gay. Maybe they figured the incest caused their gayness…

I know, I know… the whole thing is just balls-to-the-walls stupid.

Apparently when that decision was made by censors or the American Sailor Moon producers to call the two merely cousins, they may not have seen the characters kissing. Kissing cousins is a thing, right? 

I’m not sure what kind of thing - but I have no information to back up anything about Sailor Moon.

Except for my point about the original versions of Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are lesbians. Or are they gay? How come they cane be both? I thought just the men were gay? Do they have an additional nomenclature? Fag, queer?

It doesn’t really matter one frickin bit, however. You know what you can call that gay guy George? George. His fricking sexual identity is none of your damn business.

Somewhere glad as hell I never dated a woman who wanted to dress up in my “Sailor Moon” costume,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Look… I enjoy watching women parade around in sexy clothing or lack there off. I make no bones about it.  But the characters within the Sailor Moon manga and anime are dressed pretty scantily.
So if this is for a young female audience, I have no idea what message the costuming says: Don’t be ashamed of your body and wear what you want because men have no right to judge you in THAT manner?
Maybe. At least the main characters are strong and brave and heroic. Does it matter how they are dressed? By that same token, doesn’t their style of dress (in 1990 to present) detract from their heroic capabilities? The guys that are watching this program aren’t generally watching it for the strong female lead, but rather for the fact that they are dressed in sexy (as in high sitting) skirts and boots reminiscent of high school, and worse junior high school girl’s uniforms. 
PPS: Sailor Uranus… it’s pronounced You-run-us, with “you” stressed heavier. Sailor Neptune, however, is actually slang reference to ”carpet munching.”
PPPS: Obviously I was kidding about Sailor Neptune. I was getting a dig in, because I know everyone else was having a laugh at poor Sailor Uranus (who cracks me up) … as she is always the butt of everyone’s jokes. The end.
PPPPS: What I find VERY interesting is that by making the gay coupl emerely friendly cousins, we can see that at least in THIS case, the Japanese wer far more progresive than theur North American counterparts. 



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Manko And The Art Of Communication

What we have here, is a failure to communicate. Except maybe not for people like me.

The Japanese word in the headline—manko—is indeed a very naughty word… a word used in a slang manner to describe a female body part that rhymes with mulva.

The p-word. The c-word. Manko.

Manko (まんこ) is pronounced mahn-ko.;

Is it a naughty word or a vulgar word? It depends on when it’s used and how it’s used and why it’s used.

It is obviously not used in polite company, or even in most impolite companies. I’ve known about it, and even during sexy romps with girlfriends have never had just cause to use the term.

i don’t have a problem with the word, I just never found a use for it.

It’s just a word. Word’s only have power (both positive and negative) because we (people) give it that power. Actually. The words have no power. It’s just that’s we perceive them to have power.

I first learned the word from a class of junior high school boys who were interested in learning naughty English words in exchange for them teaching me naught Japanese words.

This brings up a very interesting conundrum.

Should you, as the so-called responsible adult in the situation, refrain from teaching your youthful charges such language?

I did.

A part of me questioned my role in this 26 years ago, and again a few years ago when I wrote about it in this blog.

Here’s my reasoning as to WHY I did not hold back.

Before arriving in Japan, I made up my mind that if any Japanese person asked me a question in English—no matter how personally embarrassing—I would give them an honest answer.

My reasons for this were simple.

As the essentially second wave of JETs (Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme) applicants to go to Japan in 1990, one of our core missions was to promote internationalization and to help the Japanese youth speak better English and to encourage their learning of the language.

I had eight kids begging me—in English—to teach them naughty English words. That covers all three things, including “internationalization.”

Most people don’t know what internationalization is.

For most, it involves teaching the Japanese that they aren’t JUST Japanese, but are part of a larger international community—global, if you will.

The way I understood it, and went about promoting internationalization, was to show that despite skin color, language differences, the way or societies work, gender differences… that we were all the same underneath.

Just people.

We love, we hate, we laugh, we cry, we eat, sing, dance, play and work. We might do it differently, but we all do it. Hells, everybody poops. If you prick me, do I not leak? Just like good editing, that’s prickless. Thanks, Vinnie! You know why!

These teenagers came up to me and asked me in English - broken that it was - if I could teach them English words.

They wanted to learn English.

In much the same way that every teenager since 1972 who picks up a musical instrument first learns to play Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water opening baseline, so too do the majority of kids want to learn all the naughty words of whatever language they are forced to learn—every teenager around the world… or maybe just every teenage boy around the world is that way.

Hells… I wanted to learn all the naughty Japanese words in case I was out drinking with the local men (At that time in late 1990, likely) or having sex with the local women (at that time in late 1990, not all that likely).

With the guys—and this is an important way to melt away the international heaviness that exists when you first arrive in Japan—sharing or bonding over a drink while having a laugh and teaching everyone swear words—holy crap… you are in like Flint. In Like Flint is a 1967 sequel spy flick where our man Flint takes on a cabal of women plotting to rule the world.

The Urban Dictionary, however says I’m stoopid, because the original term is “In Like Flynn” and comes from sexy movie star Errol Flynn - a notorious ladies man.

However… since I know all about the movie, I ain’t that stoopid.

As far as those kids go, when they asked me if I liked “shakuhachi”, I assumed they meant the clarinet… or straight Japanese wooden flute. Sure, I said.

They all laughed and pounded each other on the back. Okay… so whatever I thought it meant, I was correct, but obviously there was an alternative, slang meaning.

Because of it’s shape, and because of how one blows on the top of it, one pantomimed description later I realized it was a term for fellatio… er, that’s the polite term, of course.

I realized I would have to give up playing the clarinet… the old black licorice stick.

I can honestly say that I had a great time talking with those students of the English language.

And I know they had a great time talking to me.

There were no internationalization fears. I was just one of the guys. We shared, we laughed, we even learned.

I helped promote internationalization, helped the Japanese youth speak better English, and even encouraged their learning of the language.

Maybe they couldn’t order food at McDonald’s in New York, but I made them enjoy English.

I’m not wunderkind when it comes to language. I barely know a noun from a verb, and I certainly do not posses any skills in picking up more than a few words in a dozen languages.

Is it any wonder that the words I do know relate to sex or me hitting on a woman?

Stick to your strengths, and learn what might help you. I did, and I did many times. Sometimes in the same evening. LOL!

Now… this will be extremely sexist of me, but thank Buddha I never had a female teenage student ask me anything like that.

They would ask me if I had a girlfriend—already knowing the answer because they would see Ashley with me all the time, and I mean all the time.  

While Ashley preferred to keep such things private, I had no such qualms. Ashley came off looking lady-like, me cool, because I had no problem in being open. At least that’s MY view of things. Ashley probably thought I was a complete a$$, though I never told her that’s what I was doing. I only learned of her viewpoint afterwards, when she complained about all of the personal question she got when she taught at the Ohtawara (city) Girl’s High School on occasion. Her usual gig was the Boy’s High School.

I always figured that kids talk - big brothers and sisters chat… or they can see how we interacted with each other… they knew we were a couple.

To me, being open—which is how I try to be here in this blog—is the crux of how we learn… as well as how we can learn from our mistakes.

Too much information? Maybe… I’ve never had an issue with that phrase… but I think that term depends on how the information is presented.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: At the top is an album cover from the Ohio, U.S rock group Mom's Apple Pie (self-titled), featuring what has been described a s lurid album cover, rendered by artist Nick Caruso in a Norman Rockwell-like fashion.
The album artwork features exactly what you think it features.
Strangely, although having admired the album art many a time when shopping at the used records store The Vinyl Museum back in the late 1970s-1980s, I never bought a copy. Probably because it was expensive then, and I had never heard of the group. Unfortunately, up until yesterday (and YouTube), I had never listened to their music. It's kindda acid, rock jazz... not bad, actually... and the singer is most excellent.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Some Japanese Workers Work From Home On July 24

WTF?

That has to be the most boring headline I've ever written. But still... WTF? 

Japanese companies wanted workers to stay home on Monday giving them a so-called long-weekend… and it was accepted by 100% of the people?

Okay… I know and you know that not since religion became formalized and farming became a thing and prostitution… well… you know… I suppose religious, what with the missionary position…  rare is the day when there’s a day when everybody can take a day off from work.

Transit operators, taxi drivers, convenience store workers, food providers, spiritual guidance folk (includes priests and prostitutes)… someone is always working when everyone else isn’t.

On Monday, June 24, 2017, the Japanese government “encouraged” companies to allow employees to work from home for the day.

I get why it’s not popular: Some jobs can’t be done from home… such as those who work in an automobile manufacturing facility; or as an elevator in a high-end department store, or as a prostitute that only does outcalls (to your house)…. heck, even I’m not allowed to work from home as a writer—possibly for fear that I would just sit on my butt and play Skyrim V or watch TV all day long.

That would never happen, of course, as I’m sure I would have to get up to make lunch or go to the
bathroom.    

Japan’s plan was to prepare companies for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo by gently insisting companies provide its workers with the opportunity to work from home on July 24 of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The idea behind this is to help avoid/reduce population congestion… in a bid to ensure the expected 920,000 visitors to the Tokyo area will be able to get to the assorted sports venues in a less-crowded manner… meaning they might actually be able to get to the event in time… provided they get some help from the new train station robot system currently being worked on by JR East (see HERE). 

Apparently 900+ companies participated in the event—which must have sucked for every other employee of a non-participating company… but apparently, while many employees did stay home, it was still a guesstimated less than 20% number.

Since it was just 900+ companies… and only in Tokyo… and not everyone was willing to work from home, needless to say the impact it had on those still commuting was… well… negligible.  



Hmm… the image above is from www.qz.com and its take on the story. What’s wrong with the photo? It implies to show that the Tokyo subways station is busy on July 24, 2017. BUT… It’s July… and everyone is wearing coats that are far too warm for July in Tokyo.

I’ll assume it’s a stock image.

Here’s one from Bloomberg correctly showing men in short sleeved dress shirts… you keep those rocking until Labor day… then you are supposed to switch to long-sleeved shirts.

I never did, because it’s not a rule… just an accepted practice. I dressed in a respectful manner (IE a dress shirt, pants and tie), but I saw no need to follow the sheeple re: sleeve length or shirt color.

I believe I re-introduced Japan to teal back in 1992 (same with Toronto… though Montreal was again ahead of the Canadian curve.) 

Anyhow… Bloomberg has a proper photo:

Passengers board a train at Tokyu Toyoko Line’s Shibuya Station. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs says it may take approximately one month before results can be fashioned from the collected data on how many people took part

According to Twitter chatter, some people say the trains were less crowded, others saying meh, couldn’t tell… which again is based on, I believe, just which 900+ businesses took part in the event, and how many people in total from each company stayed away… depending on where and when they boarded and exited a train, different train density results could be observed. 

According to a report from the Ministry of International Affairs and Communications (a second Ministry is involved? That’s a bureaucracy. I suppose this one is because the program was initially set up for the Olympics?)…  in 2015, about 16 per cent of Japanese companies allowed its employees to work from home at least some of the time (not just on July 24).

Apparently 4 percent of workers telecommuted once a week.

Not bad… but does it say how many of them worked MORE than five days a week? Right. I wish I had an answer. I wonder if the Ministry (take your pick) has an answer.

Japan prime minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) has gone on record as saying he would like to raise the number of workers in Japan who telecommute one day a week to 10% by 2020.

Hmmm… according to a recent Gallup poll, 43% of employed Americans said they already spend at least some time working remotely.

I’m calling bullshirt on using that data… it says they spend some time working remotely… it  does NOT say they work remotely RATHER than working at the office.

I’m saying of those 43% of employed Americans who said in the Gallup Poll that they spend at least some time working remotely… MOST are doing work they couldn’t finish at the office.

There’s NO WAY IN HELL 43% of American workers get to spend time working at home INSTEAD of working at the office. NO FRICKIN’ WAY!

Anyhow… I’m unsure how one day a year with a voluntary base of companies offering its employees to voluntarily work from home is preparing anyone for the expected crowds of the Tokyo Olympics… but if it affords workers to work from home every now and again, I applaud the initiative.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Ohhhh, Rocky!

I saw a website the other day purporting that Japan is made up of 70% mountain.

Don’t you believe it.

It’s actually 73%.

While there is a mountain range running through each of the four main islands of Japan, the Japanese Alps (日本アルプス, Nihon Arupusu) consists of three major mountain ranges across the main island of Honshu: the Hida Mountains, Kiso Mountains and the Akaishi Mountains.

The Japanese term Nihon Arupusu… well, Nihon, Nippon and Japan are “basically” interchangeable ways of saying Japan.
  • Arupusu… that’s the Japanese katakana alphabet way of saying “alps”… arupusu: ah-ru-poo-su… say it quickly, and that’s who the Japanese will say “alps” in English.  That’s why the Japanese can be speaking English and you may still have a difficult time understand all of their English words. 
  • Hida Mountains - aka the Northern Alps stretches through the prefectures of Nagano, Toyama and Gifu-ken, with a wee bit going into Niigata-ken.
  • Nigano-ken is home to the Central Alps aka the Kiso Mountains, while the Southern Alps (Akaishi Mountains) run through Nagano, Yamanashi and Shizuoka-ken.
Anyhow… 73% mountainous… and I still never saw Mt. Fuji—the tallest mountain in Japan—even when I was standing right in front of it. Or was I behind it? It’s so hard to tell with mountains.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph.
PS: Rather than surrender, Japanese soldiers on the island of Saipan did, during WWII, jumped off a local mountain side yelling banzai. Originally meant as a salute of “Long live the Emperor!” it is better known as an all-out attack cry… or in this case, death before dishonor.
PPS: The title is of course a line from the Rocky Horror Picture Show musical. While I look great in fishnets, I have never dressed up in drag to see the show live. I dressed up for Halloween, by the way and not for any lifestyle choice. To each his or her own, though.
PPPS: The above image was plucked from www.japancycling.org ... yes... a cycling website... a Japanese cycling website showing the Japanese Alps.
Now, I'm no expert when it comes to cycling, but wouldn't cycling the snow-covered alps, as depicted in this WINTER scene (according to the website) just be nuts? I'm just saying, is all...  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Miyagi Zao Fox Village

There are plenty of things that the Japanese like to pet… for example… cats… what will all the cat cafes out there… bunny rabbits… there’s a rabbit island out there where guests can go and have bunnies hop all over them… women dressed up in sexy French maid costumes… while I’m sure most are legitimate as just as sexy attraction, some other sexy attractions will let you pet the made for a fee.

Foxes… which might have you think I’m talking about sexy maids again, but really… you saw the photo above… you know I’m talking about crafty, bushy-tailed creatures… no… I said I wasn’t talking about Japanese women in French maid outfits… yes… yes, I find it a very alluring look… though for me, I think it’s the medium-sized hole fishnet stockings. For me, they have to be black… I think it may stem from my love affair with DC Comics heroes Black Canary and Zatana.

Judging by the amount of fan art out on the Internet, I'm not the only one with a Zatana (left) and Black Canary crush. Mine ended when I was 11 and discovered real girls, but the die was cast.

Anyhow… hey, foxes!

At the foot of Mount Zaō (蔵王山, Zaō-zan))—a complex of stratovolcanoes on the border between Yamagata-ken (Yamagata Prefecture) and Miyagi-ken (Miyagi Prefecture) in Japan—there sits the Miyagi Zao Fox Village (蔵王きつね村, aka Kitsune Mura).

In the photo above, in your opinion those are the cutest critters ever, or you figure they are calmly waiting for the dumb adult human to accidentally drop his kit/kid a might to low to provide them with a nice, light snack... there's a joke in there, if you know that commercial advertisement from the past.   

Access to the site is only available via car or taxi (a taxi could run you as much as ¥4000!))… a 20-minute drive from Shiroshi village’s train station… which houses local and skinkansen service. 

At the Fox Village are six different varieties of fox… and over 100 animals in total… all within a preserve where the animals move freely… and what’s weird to me, is that us humans are allowed to enter, see them and even pet them.

I know foxes look kindda cute… but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go up to a wild frickin’ animal and pet it on the off-chance it decides to rip my face off and eat it or simply give me rabies or Lime’s Disease. I know you can get Lime’s Disease from ticks found on deer… but do the ticks know they have to stay on deer?

For the uninitiated, foxes have long played an important role in Japanese lore. I know… foxes have long played an important part in the lore of many other cultures, too, but this blog is about Japan.

Here;s the interesting part. When you pay your admission fee (¥1,00 adults and free for elementary aged kids and younger), you have the opportunity to purchase some fox food…  so you can feed the foxes…. uh-huh. I’ve been to animal petting zoos and have been swarmed by goats, pigs, chicken, deer, camels, llamas… crap, what haven’t I been swarmed with and seen others swarmed by?

Well, foxes, for one.

Dan Akryod and Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live, playing the Festrunk brothers - Yortuk and Georg - two wild and crazy guys who know everything there is to know about foxes.

The first part of the Fox Village is the petting zoo. Before you enter the feeding area, Japanese professionals which will not consist of sweaty high school kids doing a summer job (Ya gotta love Japan for that)… adults who will explain all the rules of Fox Village to you… in Japanese. Shazbot!
But fret not gaijin as ignorant of the Japanese language as I am (and really… why haven’t you found 1) Japanese friends 2) Japanese significant other - to be your guide and ride to places like this.

Rule #1 of traveling in Japan… since it is always imperative to know where you are going, always have a Japanese guide or a foreigner friend who has some knowledge of the Japanese language. I would say that a Guide Book is going to be of little help when you are looking up trying to decode the Chinese letters of Japanese kanji at a bus station.

I learned that travel lesson very early in my stay in Japan after getting lost far too many times whereby when I told my bosses I was going on vacation within Japan they set up odds as to how quickly I would get lost, and where I might actually end up. Not a joke (but a joke), one of my Ohtawara Board of Education co-workers bet I would end up in Korea knowing that I was just traveling by train to Osaka. He almost won, however.

While I did find Osaka, I was trying to meet some female penpal of a guy I sortta knew back in Toronto… she thought I was him… and while she did make-out with me in my hotel, she kept enough clothes on so as to not officially have cheated on her boyfriend with me. This was my third month in Japan and my first time alone with a Japanese woman.

We then went out and met her boyfriend and had a great time drinking. I really liked her boyfriend, which made me feel like crap... but it was just kissing, so I didn't feel as poorly as I could have.

She wasn't a great kisser... and I know that sounds  crazy coming from a guy who just two months earlier was still a virgin, but I stand by that accusation. 

That has nothing to do with the fact that even after we met her boyfriend, she still thought I was her penpal. I understand. As a writer, the “pen is” mightier than the sword. 

Now... where the fox was I? Oh yeah… Fox Village…

Just like an Ikea instruction manual, the village had graphic signs up with X’s abound to show the ins and outs of proper decorum at the village.

Along with the foxes that you can pet and take pictures with, you can also pet rabbits, miniature horses and goats.

This type of thing doesn’t screw up the animal does it?

After you’ve had your fill of heavy petting, it’s time to get down to business… and as someone who has been around foxes, that usually means buying them jewelry. But I’m actually talking about foxes who wear their fur living.

You pass through a door and enter the open area where the foxes et al wander freely… with real nature all around it laid out in such a way as though  it was totally natural.

Just like in real life, many foxes upon seeing you will lope away, while others will scamper up to you in curiosity.

It has always been in my head that if a wild animal scampers up to me in curiosity, I better get the fig out of there. Apparently if this happens in Fox Village, the fox IS really only curious, and probably won’t try and bite your face off.  Probably.

Hopefully you bought more food, because while there is truth in the old adage about letting sleeping dogs lie, I would assume it extended to foxes… but what do I know…

I would try not to toss food AT a sleeping or resting fox… you can shake your food bag and if they are interested they may lope over for a snack… at which time I suppose you could pet them.

Why am I wary?

Of the four Rottweiler dogs I have owned, I could feed each their own food in their own bowl and know they would never try and steal from each other. I could pet them as they ate… I could even remove their bowl WHILE they were eating - no biggie.

Now… the friendliest dog in the world - the Chocolate Labrador… if I tried to pet him when he ate, he might growl at me… he certainly would if I made an attempt to remove his dog bowl of food… growling in such a manner that you would never expect from a lab… but would expect from a Rottweiler.

The point is… you don’t know how any given fox is going to react when it comes to food. Act accordingly… which mans “warily.”
Okay… these wild foxes are used to humans… but that doesn’t mean crap. The key word in the sentence is “wild”.

Anyhow… even when the foxes come up to you, they are looking for food. I’m pretty sure that the foxes in the NON-petting area (this one) are NOT supposed to be pet.

If you want to pet a fox, go back to the petting area!

Keep in mind, that there’s very little supervision in this area. 

There are little fox dens made to look like miniature human houses, a shrine and even tori gates around… at the end of the visit, you can get something to eat at a food shop and purchase omiyage or other touristy things rom the gift shop.

I’ve seen foxes before… in my backyard, in fact. And maybe because I judge animals to be essentially wild, I have no desire to actually go and pet a fox.

Sure… if foxes were truly domesticated, I might think this is a “better” idea… but how often have we heard about a so-called domesticated dog losing it?

If you don't already have a dog… here’s a bit of advice… never ever bend down and look a dog directly in the eyes… it could take it as a “challenge”. Even bending down to stare at and then hug a dog - challenge. That's how kids get bit… nervous dogs…

It’s easier for us adults… as we can maintain a physical dominance by being higher than them. Of course YOU knowing your own dog and your dog, more importantly, knowing you is also key… 

Anyhow... while I'm not 100% completely sold being somewhat cowardly, here's a video of the the place. It looks pretty cool, actually:


A redhead and a red fox - which is which? Hopefully the rabies cure wasn't too painful.  
 
Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
  

Monday, July 24, 2017

Time Enough For A Tryst

Immortalized forever in a timeless embrace, we have an art scene created in 1680, but made at some later date into a woodblock ukiyo-e print.

Lovely, isn’t it?

Produced by famed Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hishikawa Moronobu (surname first), the untitled print has been given the name “Lovers in an Autumn Meadow.”

The title was given to the print by the United States Library of Congress staff, with the monochrome woodcut physically standing 28.8 x 41.5cm.

You can easily see the quality of the linework of Moronobu in this print…. simply exquisite.

Unlike later artists, Mornonobu gave his people an individual look… to me, if I didn’t know better, these characters could be taken out of a modern anime or manga.

While the secretive tryst takes place amongst some very beautifully-drawn flowers, I found it interesting to see the young warrior’s katana sword perched upright (and I’m pretty sure that even though it might be bad form to leave the sword splayed upon the ground, the sword being in an upright position was done for a reason).

While there may or may not be proper conduct regarding placing a sword upright or flat on the ground for a warrior, my point is the warrior has carelessly placed his katana far away from him… so even if he is lucky enough to notice someone approaching his amorous embrace and can break away in time… he still has to leap up and grab his sword perched all the way over against that gnarled tree.

The fact that the sword is still in its sheath could also imply that it hasn’t been used yet in a phallic way - if you know what I mean…

Because there are no fallen leaves surrounding the gnarled tree in the background, rather than suppose this is Autumn (per the Library staff), it could either be Summer or Spring.

Since rolling around with your favorite girl in the Summer can be hot work—would you like to imagine the warrior's hand reaching for a sweaty boob?—I prefer to to think the two young lovers are simply being randy in the Spring… 

To whit... though very few people know where the line below is from, many can quote it:

“In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
Locksley Hall, by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Of course, since that’s a line from a poem, and one near the poem's beginning, I would assume that “Spring” implies “youth” - hence our young lovers.

So… what do you think… is it possible that our artist Moronobu actually saw such a scene, and sat down to sketch the action while quietly hiding in the bush holding his pen? Voyeuristic? Opportunistic? Had a couple of models pose out in a meadow? Had a couple of models pose in his art studio and used his imagination for the rest? 

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Voyeurism Of Japanese Gods In Art

I really like this small mono-color woodblock print at the top.

The ukiyo-e image published between 1685 -1695, at the infancy of woodblock printing, is a 26.8 x 38.1 cm horizontal Oban Sumizuri-e (monochrome) woodblock print that is attributed to Japanese artist Sugimura Jihei (surname first).

The subject title is Kume no sennin… which means nothing to most people… until you realize it’s about the god, Kume, quietly spying on a Japanese beauty doing her laundry…at least he has both hands visible.

In fact, the United States Library of Congress files this print under the officious subject heading of “voyeurism”.

Kume no sennin (米の仙人) is a Taoist immortal (god) who has the ability to fly and/or float.

In all other depictions of him (that I could find) in ukiyo-e format, Kume no sennin can be seen spying on women doing their laundry… perhaps hoping for a peek between their legs as they spread their limbs to wash the clothes… also assuming that since they are doing laundry, there is a high probability that they may NOT be wearing underwear… 

Hi - sorry to disturb you, but I couldn't help but notice that you are washing your undergarments... before you do, could I purchase one or two items from you? 1856 ukiyo-e print by Utagawa Kunisada.

A diptych of ukiyo-e featuring Utagawa Kunisada's apparently favorite subject matter in 1856, Kumme no sennin swooping down upon an unsuspecting Japanese honey doing her laundry. You can tell it's a sexually-charged image because you can almost see the woman's knees. In this version, Kume no sennin looks more lecherous than in the art immediately above it.IN this image, the woman hardly looks surprised... her hair is NOT out of place, and the expression of moving water—while there—isn't as obvious as in the upper image. This image does have more background, but it's not necessarily "good" background. Which one was drawn by the Master and which was drawn (and signed as the Master) by the Student? Yeah. I hope it's as obvious as it seems.
To be honest, I don’t even know if wearing underwear was a thing in the 17th century Japan for women.

But, thanks to the artistic interpretations, we do know that Japan had a peeping Tom god it could worship if the need arose.

Banzai,
Andrew