“It is hard to notice what you see every day.” H. Incandenza
A belated happy 2015! I apologize for all of my holiday well wishes being belated. The new year has commenced excitingly, and while the bowflex I purchased on craigslist has already become a fedora rack (the “wear more fedoras” resolution hasn’t faltered), I’m confident that this is going to be a great year. Last week I turned 25— ni ju go (二十五)— and I’m proud to say I haven’t read anything titled:
- “Ugh, You’re a Quarter Century Old”;
- “25 Ways to Know You’re 25”;
- “A Man Gives a Cat a Hundred Dollar Bill, What Happens Next is Unbelievable…”.
I think I’ll choose to keep my feelings as unsullied as possible.
A few weeks ago I checked out Harajuku. There were significantly less holler backs than I expected. Gwen Stefani was nowhere to be found and my Pikachu full body suit had been worn in vain. Everyone there was sporting jeans and Uniqlo jackets except for the man dressed as Sailor Moon who winked at me. Before this major disappointment we spent the the afternoon in Ueno park, which was beautiful.
Last weekend Nith and I visited Nara for the Yamayaki festival at Mt. Wakakusa. In Japanese, Yamayaki translates to burn the mountain, which is not some sort of allegorical title, but rather a very literal reference as to what was coming later. We got there early to check out some temples, the highlight definitely being Todaiji, a temple that was reconstructed a number of times and, although now smaller than it was originally, is said to be the largest timber-framed building in the world. The world! Inside Todaiji there is a massive Buddha that is raising a hand in a “no big deal” fashion. But it is a big deal, because although incredibly humble he is the world’s largest bronze guilded Vairocana Buddha statue. Within the Todaiji temple there is also a small hole in one of the wooden columns and the story goes that if you can crawl through the hole you’ll come out enlightened on the other side. I was desperately eager to try but after seeing a boy about 1/3 of my age and size get stuck in the hole, his legs flailing as groups of adults around him took pictures , I decided that enlightenment was overrated. He eventually exited looking more frazzled than enlightened. I should also mention that deer roam freely throughout the city of Nara. They are everywhere. Historically they were observed as messengers of the gods; now their only message is that they are hungry enough to eat your coat. People occasionally feed them and grandmas are occasionally headbutted.
We got some shawarma for dinner and made a few terrible puns before heading over to the park to wait for an act to be committed that seemed totally irresponsible but was deemed acceptable in the name of tradition. The night was cold but we were really stoked to see what was going to happen. There were some fireworks that one guy in particular felt the need to express were fantastic, screaming in monosyllabic disbelief every time one was set off. This man most likely died from excitement because when they lit the mountain on fire I heard no more cries from his direction. Within minutes of setting the grass at the base the mountain ablaze, Wakakusa was completely engulfed in flames. Nith did a little research later and found out that this annual tradition actually started as the product of a feud. I guess it was so great that decided to just keep doing it.
A note on chips: In Japan there are cylindrical canisters potentially harboring millions of chip fugitives. Chip Star looks and tastes suspiciously like Pringles. It’s as if the guy on the cover of the Pringles can shaved his mustache, stopped parting his hair in the middle, and tried to push Pringles abroad under the guise of a different can. And when someone was like, “Are these Pringles?” he panicked, took a look at the chips and a glance at a Justin Beiber 2013 Never Say Never tour poster, and decided on the name. They’re Pringles.
I don’t even want to get into the dancing.
I love January because it is a definite marker for a fresh start. Sometimes this means huge changes that happen almost instantly, but the majority of the time I believe it denotes small changes that require dedication in order for bigger changes to occur. The most difficult part of it all might be the realization and acceptance of the fact that we are equipped with everything we need to get started–sort of sounds like the start to a Tony Robbins cassette tape, but I believe it.