Boyz & the hood

This illustration supposedly shows the proper way to use a squat toilet. In Japan, circle means "correct." X means "incorrect." However, I have a problem here. While it is correct to face the hood while squatting, I do not recommend placing one's hands on it for balance as this person is doing. Maybe that's just me. I know. . . what does it matter since you're going to wash your hands afterwards anyway? I say, why make your hands dirtier in the first place? Especially since a lot of public restrooms don't provide soap.


Gate to the gap

This skinny door enables access to the space between two adjacent buildings. (The sign says "no unauthorized people allowed.") In contrast to a city like Manhattan, buildings in Tokyo rarely share walls. The result is a city full of gaps. This particular gap, though, is pretty wide in comparison to most, which so are often so narrow that physical access to them is impossible. They are great places for all sorts of refuse to build up over the years. Someone should come up with a type of architectural dental floss to clean these spaces. 


Dance Dance Revolution

Stumbled upon this Awa Dance Festival (Awa Odori) in Hatagaya on Saturday afternoon. Whenever I see this kind of stuff in Japan, I get excited. It reminds me of the fire festival scene in Akira Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress." The characters in that film are smuggling gold and try to use the festival as a cover; instead they get caught up in the frenzy of the dance. Later, when the princess is facing her death, she recalls how alive the dance made her feel and sings the festival song. Dancing festivals back in the Sengoku and Tokugawa period were a lot more anarchic (and possibly more fun), but since we're here in the 21st century, I'll have to settle for this or the movies.


Kushi Fever

This restaurant sign seems to suggest that Pac-Man eats here, and that he prefers to eat his power pellets on a skewer, kushi-yaki style. While blatant trademark/copyright infringement like this maybe common in China, it's surprising to see it here in Japan. Especially for a character that was created here. Maybe it's permissible because he's not yellow?


Ballot Boy

I spotted this poster on an outdoor public notice board. The "No!" is in reference to political contributions and how giving or receiving gifts and money is against the law. The little yellow guy is called Meisuikun. He's designed to look like a ballot box. Those two black lines on the top of his head are the slots for ballots. He's got wings, too. Maybe that means your vote is just going to fly away and not really count?

This site explains all about the character (Japanese only). Even if you can't read the text, scroll down to the bottom to see some localized versions of Meisuikun as well as some photos of him hanging out with sports teams. And if you find yourself wanting a Meisuikun of your own, here's papercraft instructions on how to make one. Just print, cut and paste! You'll notice that he even has a little lock on his back instead of a tail.


Dragon Clouds

I swear I saw a dragon breathing fire in the sky today. It is the year for them, after all.