Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Surviving the Sun

There was a trip to the mountains and a some kind of daytime dance party at a campsite next to a hot spring.

We are slowly being given access to some of the more psychedelic sides of Japan...
Tea fields.
The ferris wheel on the mall next to my house.
Enjoying shabu-shabu: thinly sliced pork or beef that you swish in a delicious a broth at your table to cook it and then you dip it in a sauce and orgasms burst across your mouth and you think about how it would be difficult to not eat meat in Japan.
My students, waiting for the bus. Applying common sense-defying amounts of makeup.

The lotus plants are in bloom! Glory!
Beaching and camping! A nice little spot to the north of Kagoshima in Miyazake-ken. The funny thing about Japan is that so far it seems that rarely does a Japanese person spend time on the beach. Imagine! A sunny Sunday/Saturday at a nice stretch of sand and we are the only ones lounging and swimming! (There are surfers, but they never just hang out in the sand, it's car to wave and back)

Why is this you ask? Here ais my main theory: Japanese people are afraid of the sun. This is true. Japanese people are obsessed with maintaining very white skin and with not getting skin cancer (props on the last obsession, we Californians could use some sun protection awareness). Now that its sunny and warm out, everyone carries sun umbrellas and even young people wear long-sleeved gloves to keep their arms from seeing the sun. If you are driving along the expressway and look to the car next to you, you are likely to see that the woman driving it is wearing long gloves and a hat to shield her from the sun coming into her car. It's a little nutty if you ask me. And I do think that tanning is the greatest, so I really can't emphathize.

When Japanese people get out into nature, they seem to prefer taking to the hills as opposed to the sea, which is really odd behavior for an island country. That being said, it means that we get all the sand to ourselves!

You can see here, so folks who came out to watch the surfers... but won't sit in the sand and are fully clad in regular clothing. It's not uncommon to see the girlfriend of some surfer stand in her getup complete with heels and umbrella in the sand to take pictures of her bf... One time a couple wearing all black (woman in heeled boots) walked past us all laying out in the sun and sat on a log a little ways away under their umbrella and seemed to cast horrified glances at our outrageous submission to the sun.

After I came back from Thailand all of my students said to me "Kelly-sensei! Oh no! You are so tan! Aaaaah! But don't worry, you are still cute!"
Mt. Sakurajima and some fish farming?

This kitten is wild and has decided that it has a taste for jeans - at any given moment if I am jean-clad it will climb my leg, biting all the way. We have this game we play when we are all alone where she attacks me and I throw her as far as it is humanly possible to throw a kitten in a small Japanese flat and then she runs back and attacks me again. I never realized how peaceful my apartment was until I invited this little devil in to live with me and bite me in the night while I am trying to sleep.

PS Check out Maira Kalman's recent editorial for the, "At Ease."