Divorce ceremonies in Japan

In Japan one in every four marriages ends up in divorce, it is one of the highest rates in the world. Seeing this data, a bright entrepreneur had the idea of starting a business to organize divorce ceremonies for 500 euros (600 dollars). The culminating moment is the celebration of the destruction of the ring with a special hammer. The ceremony is expensive but at least you don’t have to arrange a journey to Orodruin.

Divorce ceremony in Japan

Divorce ceremony in Japan

Divorce ceremonies in Japan

Divorce ceremonies in Japan

Via Stewpig.

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Gon, the Jisonin Temple Dog

This last weekend we headed to the mountains, as far from Tokyo as we could. We left the train at Kudoyama and wandered calmly until we arrived to the temple of Jisonin. At the entrance of the temple there was a kind monk that was talking slowly on the phone, like he had all the time in the world.

Jisonin temple

When he finished talking on the phone he approached us and started telling us stories about the temple feeling really proud. We found him to be really photogenic and started taking pictures as he talked.

Jisonin temple

“Do you see that grave on the corner?”, the monk said. “Yes, it’s the grave of a dog, isn’t it?”, we answered. “His name was Gon, he lived with us for almost twenty years and he died in 2002. We named him “Gon” because when he was a puppy he got really excited when he heard the sound of the gong in the mornings.”

Gon, Jisonin temple dog

“It looks like the Hachiko statue, but smaller”, I remarked mumbling while I continued taking pictures. The monk raised his voice a little and said: “Our dog, Gon, is the real deal, not like Hachiko. Gon accompanied the pilgrims every day to the mountains until the Daimon gate. He was a guide to strangers along a 20km route every day and came back before the sunset. Gon was a faithful dog, obedient, hardworking and intelligent. On the other hand, Hachiko was a lazy, stupid and useless dog, the only thing he did was to wait in Shibuya for years. Moreover, something that the Richard Gere movie doesn’t tell is that Hachiko was shitting all over the Shibuya station entrance all the time. The people didn’t like Hachiko, they complained that there was a flea-bitten dog next to the train station and they had to avoid dog shits every morning”. Yes, he said the word “shit” several times after finishing his explanation and we all started all laughing, the monk included.

Jisonin Temple

“Did you understand? Our dog Gon is much cooler that Hachiko! Don’t let people in Tokyo fool you”.

Jisonin Temple

Jisonin Temple
This photo of me and the monk was taken by Ikusuki.

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Fishing in downtown Tokyo

I first realized how much Japanese people are interested in fishing when I saw the amount of fishing video games produced in Japan. Many of my coworkers go fishing on weekends, some of them head to the seashore by car, however most of them go to Yotsuya pool, where fish are bred so that customers catch them. The other day strolling near the new Tokyo Sky Tree we came across some kind of artificial pool for fishing enthusiasts. It looked really peaceful.

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo

Tokyo Sky Tree
We ended up our walk just next to the Tokyo Sky Tree.

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Kyudo exhibition in Kyoto

Kyudo (弓道: “the way of the bow”), on of the most ancient Japanese martial arts, searches for spiritual development through archery. The way of holding the bow and all the steps to follow when shooting are very strict and many years of strict training are required to be able to dominate them. Yabusame uses some of the archery techniques of kyudo but is a totally different kind of art.


Video recoreded by Vincent in an kyudo exhibition in Kyoto

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The Seven Gods of Fortune – 七福神

The Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 – Shichifukujin) are a group of very popular gods in Japan. But just one of them, Ebisu, actually originated from the Land of the Rising Sun. Daikokuten, Bishamonten and Benzaiten are native to India; and Hotei, Jurojin and Fukurokuju from China. All of them come from Taoist and Shintoist beliefs.

Ebisu
Ebisu is a god of good luck and also of fishermen. He’s usually represented with a fish on his left hand and a fishing rod on his right hand, although the latter may vary. The Japanese, fish lovers, usually favor Ebisu as god of fortune over the others.


Ebisu

Pic of an Hotei at the entrance of a sushi restaurant.

At the end of the 19th century, “Japan Beer” (company that ended up being called Sapporo afterwards) started selling a beer called Yebisu (ancient form of Ebisu, the Y is not pronounced) in honour of the god of fortune Ebisu. At that moment, “Japan Beer” had most of its factories on the South-West side of Tokyo and decided to build a train station called Ebisu to enhance their distribution system. Today, the Ebisu station is the next one right after Shibuya on the Yamanote line.


Yebisu

Yebisu beer logo.

Ebisu, apart from being the god of fishermen, has also become the god of shopkeepers and farmers, whom normally have an Ebisu figurine in the kitchen beside one of Daikokuten.

Daikokuten
God native to India that was adapted to the Japanese tradition in order to help enhance wealth, business, agriculture and, more specifically, food making! It is the god that brings food to the family. Its figure is usually represented on top of two rice bags and with a lucky mallet on his right hand.



On the right-hand side there are two Daikokuten.

Benzaiten
She’s the only female among the Seven Gods of Fortune. She’s the patron of music and fine arts in general. All temples in honor of Benzaiten are usually close to the sea (in Enoshima there are a couple of them) and the figurines representing the goddess normally show a very beautiful woman playing a biwa beside one or several white snakes. As the legend goes, goddess Benzaiten can transform into a snake. Many Japanese people believe that if a white snake appears in your dreams, it’s a sign of good luck.

Hotei
He’s the god of happiness according to Chinese beliefs. Plump and smiley, with a bag full of stuff to give to the poor.



Fukurokuju
God of wisdom and longevity. Near Fukurokuju figures there’s usually a tortoise.

Jurojin
God of longevity originated from China. He’s the oldest of the gods of fortune. His statues normally have a long beard and a parchment with all the death dates of all live creatures written.

Bishamonten
God of war, of warriors, he has the power to heal. He normally wears an armor and holds a sword in his right hand.



Figurines of the seven gods of fortune. Can you tell them apart?

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Men or women

Which entrance would you use?

Onsen

The left entrance (the blue noren one) gives access to the men bathroom. The right one (the red noren one) gives access to the women bathroom.

Most onsen (hot springs) and sento (public baths) usually use the same noren colors and at the same time the sex is specified written on them, however if you can’t read Japanese this could be a problem.

Another possibility is that the baths are mixed (混浴 – こんよく: konyoku) in which women and men share the same ofuros. Although mixed baths are less and less common and you can only find them in very traditional ryokans.

Onsen for men or women

Onsen for men or women

Onsen for men or women

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Goma Tsukemen

Goma Tsukemen (ごまつけ麺) is an Hiroshima typical summer dish. Goma means “sesame” and tsukemen means “dipping ramen”. The most common way to serve it consists of a bowl with unground sesame. Before starting to eat you have to grind the sesame and put it in the bowl along with the soup that will soak the noodles.

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