Archive for April 2004

Cox comes through again

April 30, 2004

Again, the geniuses at Cox did something that screwed up their lines and I was suddenlty left with no Internet for an afternoon. I wish they’d screw up when I’m at work, not when I’m at home… Anyway, I can finally update…

To the sun

I am a purportedly a Japanese expert, but there is so much about Japan that I still don’t know. One thing is ritual disembowelment; seppuku to us and harakiri (pronounced like the name of the late Chicago Cubs play-by-play announcer, Harry Caray) to the other, larger segment of the US population.

I think most people know that it is a form of suicide committed by samurai when he is allowed to die an honorable death. But beyond that, I know little about its origins or its development. All I know is that in Japan, suicide is often viewed an acceptable–albeit extreme–act in response to a situation that is considered hopeless. And for the samurai, perhaps the most hopeless of situations would be disgrace to his name and family, or the shame of defeat in battle. In these cases, a man would be allowed to kill himself in a final gesture of courage, which probably explains why the ritual entails splitting open the stomach.

Seppuku must have taken incredible strength and fortitude to bear the pain of slicing open a stomach completely enough to ensure death. A slash of the the throat, or stab in the heart would be just as painful, but easier and quicker as it would take only a single stab or slice. Disembowelment entailed cutting across the stomach completely. In one ritual, the participant was required to cut to the midpoint then turn the blade upward toward the sternum. It must have been excruciating. Another aspect of the ritual is the “second”, usually a friend or an admiring enemy who will cut off the head at or near the end of the disebowelling. Tis was to ensure a quick death and a perhaps to prevent as much pain as possible.

The most famous example of seppuku is found in the story the 47 Samurai. In it, Asano Takumi-no-kami is required to perform the ritual when he raised his sword at courst against a superior, Kira Kozuke-no-suke who more or less provoked the insident. In response, 47 of Asano’s retainers led by Oishikura-no-suke decided to exact revenge, which they did a mauch later, and then as they had disgraces themselves for getting revenge, all 47 commited seppuku as well.


“To the Sun”
ゥ zarah delrosario 2004
Adobe Illustrator

Anyway, this act has been the province of men. Women of premodern Japan who commited suicide to “accompany” the husband–or other male family member, like father–usually slit or stabbed themselves in the throat. But what if a woman were to commit seppuku? What if a woman were to perform an act that required endurance, strength and a threshhold for pain that even normal men could barely endure? One of my favorite Xangans, Nefarious_Hatter, is an artist who comes up with some incredible images. She is, in my opinion, a wonderful photo essayist. Her entry, Richard and the Turtledoves (2004.01.23), is my favorite. No, no, no, she didn’t commit seppuku, but she did create the image of one by a woman–click on the image to get a larger view on her site.

I like this one a lot. The erstwhile honorable act of disembowelment committed by a woman could have a number of interpretations. This image is of a woman performing the act of a man. She is strong, she has courage. And since she is taking the ultimate responsibility like a man, she has been disgraced for doing something that she did–whatever it might be–that is perhaps usually associated with men. Consequently, for me, “To the Sun” suggests an image of a modern woman. While she has raised herself in society, in reality, she may have disgraced herself or failed in the process to accomplish something. It is not that woman–maybe Japanese and by extension Asian woman–cannot raise herself or be successful, but perhaps whatever she might have done–or failed to do–in the world of men induced her to consider suicide as her response. But as Nefarious brilliantly portrays, such a response is folly. Proving one’s strength or one’s equality to man by committing a “manly” act, seppuku, is foolhardy, as suggested in the Icarius-like flight to the sun…

Well, that’s how I interpreted the image. Of course, it could just mean, I have finals, I’m tired, I wanna kill myself… As any of my students know, I believe that we all have our own interpretations and each one is valid–perhaps some are more insipid than others–but each has its own value.

In any event, I think it’s rather powerful image. I wonder if Nefarious would be willing to part with it…

Do you have an interpretation? What might this image mean to you?

Cox comes through again

April 30, 2004

Again, the geniuses at Cox did something that screwed up their lines and I was suddenlty left with no Internet for an afternoon. I wish they’d screw up when I’m at work, not when I’m at home… Anyway, I can finally update…

To the sun

I am a purportedly a Japanese expert, but there is so much about Japan that I still don’t know. One thing is ritual disembowelment; seppuku to us and harakiri (pronounced like the name of the late Chicago Cubs play-by-play announcer, Harry Caray) to the other, larger segment of the US population.

I think most people know that it is a form of suicide committed by samurai when he is allowed to die an honorable death. But beyond that, I know little about its origins or its development. All I know is that in Japan, suicide is often viewed an acceptable–albeit extreme–act in response to a situation that is considered hopeless. And for the samurai, perhaps the most hopeless of situations would be disgrace to his name and family, or the shame of defeat in battle. In these cases, a man would be allowed to kill himself in a final gesture of courage, which probably explains why the ritual entails splitting open the stomach.

Seppuku must have taken incredible strength and fortitude to bear the pain of slicing open a stomach completely enough to ensure death. A slash of the the throat, or stab in the heart would be just as painful, but easier and quicker as it would take only a single stab or slice. Disembowelment entailed cutting across the stomach completely. In one ritual, the participant was required to cut to the midpoint then turn the blade upward toward the sternum. It must have been excruciating. Another aspect of the ritual is the “second”, usually a friend or an admiring enemy who will cut off the head at or near the end of the disebowelling. Tis was to ensure a quick death and a perhaps to prevent as much pain as possible.

The most famous example of seppuku is found in the story the 47 Samurai. In it, Asano Takumi-no-kami is required to perform the ritual when he raised his sword at courst against a superior, Kira Kozuke-no-suke who more or less provoked the insident. In response, 47 of Asano’s retainers led by Oishikura-no-suke decided to exact revenge, which they did a mauch later, and then as they had disgraces themselves for getting revenge, all 47 commited seppuku as well.


“To the Sun”
ゥ zarah delrosario 2004
Adobe Illustrator

Anyway, this act has been the province of men. Women of premodern Japan who commited suicide to “accompany” the husband–or other male family member, like father–usually slit or stabbed themselves in the throat. But what if a woman were to commit seppuku? What if a woman were to perform an act that required endurance, strength and a threshhold for pain that even normal men could barely endure? One of my favorite Xangans, Nefarious_Hatter, is an artist who comes up with some incredible images. She is, in my opinion, a wonderful photo essayist. Her entry, Richard and the Turtledoves (2004.01.23), is my favorite. No, no, no, she didn’t commit seppuku, but she did create the image of one by a woman–click on the image to get a larger view on her site.

I like this one a lot. The erstwhile honorable act of disembowelment committed by a woman could have a number of interpretations. This image is of a woman performing the act of a man. She is strong, she has courage. And since she is taking the ultimate responsibility like a man, she has been disgraced for doing something that she did–whatever it might be–that is perhaps usually associated with men. Consequently, for me, “To the Sun” suggests an image of a modern woman. While she has raised herself in society, in reality, she may have disgraced herself or failed in the process to accomplish something. It is not that woman–maybe Japanese and by extension Asian woman–cannot raise herself or be successful, but perhaps whatever she might have done–or failed to do–in the world of men induced her to consider suicide as her response. But as Nefarious brilliantly portrays, such a response is folly. Proving one’s strength or one’s equality to man by committing a “manly” act, seppuku, is foolhardy, as suggested in the Icarius-like flight to the sun…

Well, that’s how I interpreted the image. Of course, it could just mean, I have finals, I’m tired, I wanna kill myself… As any of my students know, I believe that we all have our own interpretations and each one is valid–perhaps some are more insipid than others–but each has its own value.

In any event, I think it’s rather powerful image. I wonder if Nefarious would be willing to part with it…

Do you have an interpretation? What might this image mean to you?

Eating Grass

April 29, 2004

Yesterday was the last day of class for this academic year. Whew, I’m exhausted. I still have finals to grade, but at least classes are over, so I can sorta relax. To get into the no-school mood, M and I went to our local watering hole, Glory Days, for a light dinner and beer.

We only had two pints–as it was only Tuesday–and left relatively sober. M drove, and as we were leaving the parking lot, I looked over my shoulder and told her there’s a cop behind us. I didn’t really have a good look at it, but there was something stealthy about the way it appeared out of the shadows in the parking lot. But the car passed us to the right, and we noticed it didn’t have any cherries on top.

“What are you talking about? Are you drunk?” M chortled. (I’ve always wanted to use this word…)

“Hmmm… Maybe, I guess…” But just when I uttered these words, the car let out two short bursts of its siren–woot, woot–and lit its back interior police lights–the one’s just above the back seat–and sped off after another car.

“I just got a nose for ’em,” I said, perhaps a bit too smugly.

“That’s because you were a grass eating delinquent. You always had to keep your eye out.” M retorted.

What M was referring to was a story of my more delinquent days. Back in the spring of 1973, I was hanging with the “guys”: Voz and Diddly. We were going to start a band–we named our band, appropriately enough, Stash. Besides practicing songs that we wanted to play at dances–Smoke on the Water, Free Ride, Dancing in the Moonlight–part of our preparation included scouting the competition to see what they were playing. We went to the Elk’s Club, a private building located near MacArthur Park where a hall was rented out for Asian dances, to see Free Flight and another band I don’t remember.

We listened to them play light songs like “Keep on Truckin'” by Jo Mama (Carol King’s former back up band), rock like “Situations” by Jeff Beck, and oldies–even then–like “Twist and Shout”. We listened for a while. I was young and rather naive, and gulped down sissy drinks like Singapore Slings and Harvey Wallbangers until I got a buzz. But with the exception of “Situations”, the rest of the songs were pretty mundane. We grew bored and decided to leave the Elk’s Club. We climbed into Voz’s new VW Beetle–I’m the youngest, so I got in the back–and headed home to the Eastside. Before long, Voz pulls out a joint, lit it and passed it to Diddly, who then passed it to me. Getting high(er), we started laughing and joking and making fun of the bands that played at the Elk’s Club that night, swearing that we’d make them eat our dust… When suddenly, Voz told us to shut up. Looking in the rear view mirror intently, he whispered loudly; “It’s the cops…” Well, I was way too inexperienced and I began to panic. I’m too young to go to jail. What am I gonna do! Voz gave the joint to Diddly who then passed it to me without taking a hit.

“What am I supposed to do with it! I can’t inhale that fast!”

“Fuckin’ eat it already!” cursed Diddly, rolling his eyes.

Oooh. @_@ I was really panicking now. In Japanese, I have what is known as a cat’s tongue, nekojita, one that can’t eat anything hot. And now these guys want me to eat a lit joint?!?

I’m not the religious sort, but I focused my eyes on the smoldering tip and started to chant a familiar mantra: Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.

“Use your saliva, man,” Voz rushed, the tension palpable in his Bug.

Oh, okay. Gotcha, I thought, and tried to build up as much spittle as I could in a mouth dry from the excitement. When I figured I had pooled enough around my lips, tongue and teeth, I slowly and painfully doused it–hacha, hacha, hacha–then stuck the joint in my mouth. Ugh, it tasted rancid. But I chomped on it a couple of times and swallowed it as is. Successful, I relaxed a bit, knowing that I had gotten rid of the evidence. But in my panic, I hadn’t noticed Diddly laughing hysterically and Voz staring at me through the rear view mirror, eyes wide in astonishment.

“Dude, you’re supposed to spit on it. You’re mouth is not an ashtray, man.”

At which point, the police car whizzed past us on the left, headed to some unknown crime scene or donut shop, leaving me with a awful taste in my mouth.

“False alarm,” Voz chuckled…

Eating Grass

April 29, 2004

Y

esterday was the last day of class for this academic year. Whew, I’m exhausted. I still have finals to grade, but at least classes are over, so I can sorta relax. To get into the no-school mood, M and I went to our local watering hole, Glory Days, for a light dinner and beer.

We only had two pints–as it was only Tuesday–and left relatively sober. M drove, and as we were leaving the parking lot, I looked over my shoulder and told her there’s a cop behind us. I didn’t really have a good look at it, but there was something stealthy about the way it appeared out of the shadows in the parking lot. But the car passed us to the right, and we noticed it didn’t have any cherries on top.

“What are you talking about? Are you drunk?” M chortled. (I’ve always wanted to use this word…)

“Hmmm… Maybe, I guess…” But just when I uttered these words, the car let out two short bursts of its siren–woot, woot–and lit its back interior police lights–the one’s just above the back seat–and sped off after another car.

“I just got a nose for ’em,” I said, perhaps a bit too smugly.

“That’s because you were a grass eating delinquent. You always had to keep your eye out.” M retorted.

What M was refering to was a story of my more delinquent days. Back in the spring of 1973, I was hanging with the “guys”: Voz and Diddly. We were going to start a band–we named our band, appropriately enough, Stash. Besides practicing songs that we wanted to play at dances–Smoke on the Water, Free Ride, Dancing in the Moonlight–part of our preparation included scouting the competition to see what they were playing. We went to the Elk’s Club, a private building located near MacArthur Park where a hall was rented out for Asian dances, to see Free Flight and another band I don’t remember.

We listened to them play light songs like “Keep on Truckin'” by Jo Mama (Carol King’s former back up band), rock like “Situations” by Jeff Beck, and oldies–even then–like “Twist and Shout”. We listened for a while. I was young and rather naive, and gulped down sissy drinks like Singapore Slings and Harvey Wallbangers until I got a buzz. But with the exception of “Situations”, the rest of the songs were pretty mundane. We grew bored and decided to leave the Elk’s Club. We climbed into Voz’s new VW Beetle–I’m the youngest, so I got in the back–and headed home to the Eastside. Before long, Voz pulls out a joint, lit it and passed it to Diddly, who then passed it to me. Getting high(er), we started laughing and joking and makin fun of the bands that played at the Elk’s Club that night, swearing that we’d make them eat our dust… When suddenly, Voz told us to shut up. Looking in the rearveiw mirror intently, he whispered loudly; “It’s the cops…” Well, I was way too inexperienced and I began to panic. I’m too young to go to jail. What am I gonna do! Voz gave the joint to Diddly who then passed it to me without taking a hit.

“What am I supposed to do with it! I can’t inhale that fast!”

“Fuckin’ eat it already!” cursed Diddly, rolling his eyes.

Oooh. @_@ I was really panicking now. In Japanese, I have what is known as a cat’s tongue, nekojita, one that can’t eat anything hot. And now these guys want me to eat a lit joint?!?

I’m not the religious sort, but I focused my eyes on the smoldering tip and started to chant a familiar mantra: Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.

“Use your saliva, man,” Voz rushed, the tension palpable in his Bug.

Oh, okay. Gotcha, I thought, and tried to build up as much spittle as I could in a mouth dry from the excitement. When I figured I had pooled enough around my lips, tongue and teeth, I slowly and painfully doused it–hacha, hacha, hacha–then stuck the joint in my mouth. Ugh, it tastes rancid. But I chomped on it a couple of times and swallow it as is. Successful, I relaxed a bit, knowing that I had gotten rid of the evidence. But in my panic, I hadn’t noticed Diddly laughing hysterically and Voz staring at me through the rearview mirror, eyes wide in astonishment.

“Dude, you’re supposed to spit on it. You’re mouth is not an ashtray, man.”

At which point, the police car whizzed past us on the left, headed to some unknown felony or doughnut shop, leaving me with a awful taste in my mouth.

“False alarm,” Voz chuckled…

50,000 hits

April 28, 2004

Kudos to SleepingCutie for her 50,000the hit. Back in December or January, we were around the same hit number, but I guess she’s got that extra “something” that attracts a kazillion readers. She is honest–almost to a fault–and revealing… no, you perverts, not that way… um, wait, actually sometimes that way… But all in a acceptably wholesome way… Anyway, if you got the time, drop by and give her a pat on the back…

Finals

Many of the peole who come here are students. And for those of you on a semester system, it is probably time to study for finals… I’m sure many of you are grinding it out, stressing over exams or papers. Just to make you feel a bit better–just a little, I hope–we teachers dread Finals just as much as you do. If you had an image of teachers humming away, sinisterly devising exceptionally difficult exams, then forget it… at least for me. I want to ensure that my students have actually learned something in my class, so instead of having one midterm and one final, I usually have students studying throughout the semester–hence the weekly quizzes and/or papers. As I think about it, the film class consists of weekly quizzes and weekly papers (short 1-2 pages), meaning that its pretty time consuming. But this allows me to justify a relatively easy final–although one student told me the other day that the take home for Readings in Modern Japanese was long… Well, it IS advanced Japanese… and it IS a take home… The point is that I design final exams in a way that will be relatively easy to grade. But, for the record, I have 48 finals for the film course, 16 finals for Readings, 8 finals for Bungo (Literary Japanese) and three senior theses–not that I expect any sympathy from you guys.

IN any event, I too am stressing out with you guys.

So tell me, are any of you guys simply chilling? Have you studied all semester long so that finals are a piece (pieces?) of cake? Or are you on the quarter system and don’t worry about finals for awhile? Or have you left academia behind, never to touch again?

Pleasant surprises…

April 27, 2004

I’m not much for surprises. The older I get, the more stability I want. While I am perhaps more flexible than others my age, I still find myself looking forward to things normal, regular, the everyday… As a result, I don’t really like surprises. Unless, of course, its a good one. An unexpected tax return is a nice surprise that I did not get to experience this year. An exceptional meal at a restaurant is another. Yesterday, I was blessed with two more pleasant surprises..

Senior Recital

I have a student–I’ll call him BR–who had taken Japanese previously with other instructors and studied abroad in Japan last year. He came to my class this year–Advanced Reading and Lit in translation–and he was a pleasant student: quiet, reserved but insightful and expressive when necessary. He seemed to know when to speak out and when not to. His timing was impeccable. Well, over the course of the year, I learned that he was a musician–which might explain his timing–and he invited me to an individual recital on he gave Sunday. I was truly impressed. He played lead violin in a Concerto for Two Violins by Bach (BWV 1043) and an emotionally expressive piece by Saint-Saens called Rondo Capriccioso. But what impressed me more was his last piece. He played a jazz piece that he composed on piano, a piece that was reminscent of McCoy Tyner’s work in the late 70s. I don’t mean to diss him by saying his playing suprised me, but I have been to a number of student concerts, and most of them have sounded like they were performed by, well, students. But BR put on a performance that was a joy to experience.

Consider Yourself Quoted

I found the other surprise on RBJ, Yes, I’ve hit the big time. I’ve been quoted… although I must admit, I don’t know why. Most of the bloggers registered there are pretty serious writers… or so it would seem to me. And the quote they (Carlos?) decided to use from this site was pretty mundane… Oh well. It was a nice surprise to be recognized. Thanks to the folks at RBJ.

Speaking of which, there are a couple of people who seem to come here pretty regularly from RBJ. If you’re a regular, thanks for bookmarking me on RBJ. It is–according to them–your way of showing support for sites you like to read… Of coure, this blog isn’t all that… Ugh, enough self promotion…

So have you had any pleasant surprises recently?

Hi, you’re on the air for…

April 26, 2004

O3: Tripping over a Yakuza

That’s Onsen 3, if you haven’t been paying attention…

With Cboy918, Kizyr, Vlade, Msbliss, Petey, BluJazz, the Vixen, Nefarious, Omega-man, Mr. Mephisto, a Ninja, Mystic Creator, and my long lost brother.

O-man: Okay, this is the final broadcast of O3. Thanks for your patience… that is if you’re still listening… Cboy918 from Maryland, you’re on the air…

Cboy918: Hold up a second. Are you leaving xanga again? “Interlude before the final broadcast”? C’mon now, whats the reason this time?

O-man: Hahahaha, I meant the broadcasts about onsen. This thing got so long that I broke it up into three parts, this being the final part of the trilogy. First there was T3, then Matrix Revolution, followed by Return of the King. Now this… You think I’ might get nominated for a Marconi? hehehehhehe. Anyway, I’m flattered that you care, but not to worry. I’ll be here for the time being… Kizyr, you’re on the air.

kizyr: Before I was pretty embarassed to take a public bath–last time I was in Japan I didn’t once, actually. But this time, I’ve gone to a public お風呂 (ofuro – specifically a bath) plenty of times and an 温泉 (onsen – hot springs) a few times as well.

O-man: Hey thanks for the translation. at least some of you realize that not everyone here know Japanese…

kizyr: The first time it wasn’t so awkward, because in our ryokan (inn) I was the only one who wanted to get up at 6AM to watch the sun rise while sitting in the ofuro (which I still highly recommend). Once, one other guest of the inn came in, but it didn’t bother me like I thought it might. After that, onsen, ofuro, whatever was no problem anymore. After you get over your initial reservations and realise that nobody is looking at you, it’s all good.

O-man: Dude, there’s a reason why no one was in the onsen at 6AM. First and foremost, an onsen is a plce for R & R: rest and relaxation. And in Japan, as you should know, that usually involves imbibing huge quantities of beer. So while going into a hot spring will relieve some of the pains of a hangover, few will wake up at the crack of dawn for that particular remedy. I know. Been there, done that… Next, Ham… uh, I mean, gokingsgo, from Sant.. uh, Los Angeles… Whew… you’re on the air.

gokingsgo: hmmm… something to do when i go on my japan trip.

O-man: That’s right dude. And have a safe trip… msbLiSs from Djibouti? Where the heck is that? Aint’ you from Cali?

msbLiSs: onsen, that sounds lovely. I only get to watch it in anime form. *sigh*

O-man: Hahahah, it IS lovely. You gotta go. None of this anime crap. Virtual is fun, but it will never beat the real thing… Anyway, Link_Strife, you’re on the air…

Link_Strife: that, i feel i must say, was…….now, how should I say what I must say…….quite interesting. yes indeed. lol.

O-man: I am in awe of your choice of diction. *click* ddsb2000 from Florida

ddsb2000: Jeez onsen sound a little weird. I’ve been looking forward to going to japan as long as i have been studying japanese but onsen don’t seem like something i’d be interested in.

O-man: Why? As strange as it may sound, it is part of the cultural landscape of Japan. You’ve heard of the Japan communal mentalitiy, the group over the individual, right? Well this is kind of its physical manifestation. If you want to learn and understand Japan, how could you not want to experience such an integral part of their culture?

ddsb2000: I mean if i get in a hot tub without the possiblitlity, of girls and all i can hope for is naked guys then the future is dim indeed.

O-man: Well, damn, that’s a pretty good reason, I must admit, heheheheheheh…. new listener (and subscriber) blu_jazz from… Virginia?

blu_jazz: well, that provided for interesting reading…

O-man: Thanks, the O-man aims to please. I’m such a whore, but don’t dis me like, like… well speak of the devil. Our Binghamton beauty is back…

bane_vixen: i guess prancing around in your birthday suit isn’t so bad. but no public baths for me. the only time i get naked is before i shower in my solitary, private bathroom, or when i’m having hot, steamy sex with some guy who can deliver heh

O-man: Alright already. Quite braggin’, will ya’? We can’t all be Karl Malone, y’know. Let’s see now, nefarious_hatter from Chi-town, you’re on the air.

nefarious_hatter: naked? in water? maybe other people. But i can’t imagine dipping in water and sharing ass germs.

O-man: Hahahha. Ass germs! Reminds me of a story my mother told me. When she went to the sento late at night, she would sometimes see a piece of baby poop floating in the water. Of course, this was long ago during and after WWII in Hiroshima when shit like that (no pun intended) wasn’t that high on the list of priorities. But I’d bet if you went to Japan, you’d go anyway, if only to take a few snapshots… Omega01, you’re on the air.

Omega01: Think about how hot it is in there…germs probably won’t survive for too long, haha.

O-man: Hahah, yeah, I hear ya’. But I think NH was just joking…

Omega01: And about the onsen…I’ve wanted to go for a very long time…I might see about studying abroad to give myself a chance to do it….yeeeesssssss…..

O-man: Indeed, as I mentioned in the previous show, Studying abroad is a great opportunity. It is the easiest way to immerse yourself in a culture with the least amount of effort. Ah, Mr_Mephisto from the backroad of NE Japan. You’re on the air.

Mr_Mephisto: Ha ha, onsen is great. But too much of a good thing can be bad. I like that people crave it. As for me, my kendo teacher wants to go to the onsen all the damn time. Its great after kendo, and the place I like best is only 200yen, but I think I enjoy it more when I go only, say, once a week.

O-man: *Gulp* 200 yen?!?

Mr_Mephisto: And in the snow is awesome. Once I was so hot, I climbed out into the snow and made little snowmen everywhere around the onsen. Makes people happy.

O-man: Happy? Happy?!? With a bunch of little inanimate guys staring at you? Sounds like the premise of a Stephen King story. So, uh, by the way, were you buck naked when you made these snowmen? Hehehehhe, just kidding. zettonv from FSU. What do you have to say?

zettonv: konyoku onsen 😛 there better be some pichi pichi gals there too! kaaaaaaaaaa!

O-man: Like I said in the previous show, only grandmas will come in. So don’t get you hopes up too high. gt_ninja, you’re on the air…

gt_ninja: Yeah Onsen. What is this strategic towel stuff? I saw none of this with women in Japan. Try going to an onsen with senpai. There is a good couple minutes where you realize you’re going to get completely naked in front of your friends and you have to look them in the eye tomorrow.

O-man: Hahahaha. It’s all good. Like Ekin said earlier, its a time where you have “nothing to hide”, its kind of a release…

gt_ninja: Yeah, well, the first time I had to bathe in a Japanese style public bathing room was back in HS on my first trip to Japan in a youth hostel. I picked a strange hour of the day so I could avoid people. I though I got lucky but to my dismay I heard someone else was going to come in. I rushed! And the small Japanese middle school student decided to open the sliding door the same time I did. We virtually knocked into each other, Naked. Big ol’ 5’7″ me and tiny ol’ her. No more naked touching please. >.<

O-man: Haahaha, you know you loved it.

gt_ninja: The best part is being lined up at the faucets and sitting on your stool. As my cousin described it from her watchful eye. “small japanese butt, small japanese butt, small japanese butt, hey look there is my cousin’s large latin butt, small japanese butt…” You get the picture.

O-man: Hahahahahah!!!!!! Whew, I get this image of a butt hanging over the “small” Japanese stool… That might not be the most pleasing of images… hehehehe. Okay, let’s move on. mystic_creator, you’re on the air.

mystic_creator: I’m very comfortable with being naked. I don’t think I would be too embarrassed.

O-man: Good for you. Now go to Japan and prove it… Sammy from Illinois, you’re on the air…

SammyStorm: Howard Stern, watch out! There’s a new DJ in town!

O-man: Dude, no props, please. And Stern ain’t got nothing on me…. hehehehehe…

SammyStorm: The first time I went to a sento, I saw a guy with tattoos all over his body, and you know what that means. But for some reason I wasn’t really embarassed about being naked, but as you said, I couldn’t get used to the really HOT water.

O-man: Yeah, the water can be REALLY hot. But body tattoo, yeah, that’s scary. Tattoos equal yakuza… But I was hoping for someone to make this exact comment. Why is it that I KNOW I can always count on you, Sammy? I mean we lived in the same freakin’ city in Tokyo, right? I feel like I found a long lost brother… What else is in store for us? Anyway, your comment is the perfect segue.

About, geez, I guess it would be 12 years ago now, when I was working at a thinktank in Tokyo, our section went to an onsen (hot spring) for our annual summer retreat. I love Japanese companies. They really know how to relieve stress. Here, in the States, a retreat by a company usually involves seminars on how to make the company better. Well, at this retreat, all we did was drink, eat and get drunk. I’d like to say we debauched, but we were a rather saintly group…

On our way home, our director told us there was one more onsen he wanted to go to. It was further in the mountains and we had to backtrack a bit, but he insisted it was a great place… and who were we to go against our boss? So we went to this little hole-in-the-wall of an onsen. It wasn’t dirty, but it was old and–for lack of a better word–rustic.

Well, as our boss had promised, it was a nice onsen. Hot, intimate and comfy. Back then, I wore glasses instead of contacts and in the onsen, they would fog up, so I usually left my glasses in my clothing basket and entered the bathing area with little vision and a tenugui–the Japanese hand towel. So I’m chatting with a colleague in the small bathing area when I smell cigarette smoke. Now I’m no prude, and at the time I too smoked as well, but there is a time and place for everything so I was rather pissed that someone would be ruining my enjoyment of the onsen with tobacco. I squint my eyes and look around and see a single guy with a dark towel over his shoulder sitting at the edge of the pool taking long deliverate drags on his smokes.

So I thought I’d tell him nicely but firmly that there’s a sign that says “No Smoking” and that he’s screwing it up for everybody else.

So I get up, walk over and sit myself right next to him, dangling my feet in the hot water like him. I turn to him as nonchalantly as possible and was about to speak my mind when I notice that he doesn’t have a towel over his shoulder. In fact it wasn’t anykind of cloth at all. It was a tattoo. *Gulp*

おい、なんなんだよ “Yeah? Whaddya want?” he asked in an annoyed tone…

いい湯ですね “Nice bath, isn’t it,” I managed in a voice about an octive higher than usual.

I got up, walked back to my friend, and enjoyed the rest of my bath in the knowledge that I was going home in one piece…

Thanks for tuning in guys…