Fertility Fest, aka the most inappropriate pics I’d ever put on the internet.

Admittedly, the fertility fest was a while ago.  Almost a month. What had me waiting?  Perhaps the sheer amount of pictures we took intimidated me.  Or maybe I was trying to decide whether or not to show you all of them.  Or… again, maybe I’m just lazy.

Maybe my twice-a-day posting will clear my good name? Because my fingers are starting to bleed from typing so much.

On Friday, my mother calls me.  “What are you doing for easter?” she asks.  I’m sure she wasn’t exactly expecting that I’d found a church and decided to devote myself to feeding the japanese poor for a day, but then again it wouldn’t be entirely unlikely to have coerced my friends into letting me cook Easter Dinner for them.  She was downright shocked when I told her I was going to a fertility festival.

…at a shrine where women to go to pray for fertility.

fertility fest - kawasaki

So clearly that’s not why we were going, unless you consider the possibility of my praying to become a Barren Shell of a WomanTM.  While there are actual legends and more serious stories that were historically associated with the fest, these days it’s mostly a tourist attraction.

fertility fest - kawasaki

And why wouldn’t it attract a lot of people? Jon has a theory that this society is generally repressed, and so when they have the opportunity to get a little crazy, they get a lot of crazy. On that note, a lot of customs in this country vaguely remind me of Catholicism.

So. What’s the hullabaloo? Well, first there’s a competition to see who can sculpt the best-lookin wang from a vegetable. I’ve definitely never thought of playing with your food in such a way, but it does lead to some interesting dinner-party options.

fertility fest - kawasaki

…and of course, there’s the educational merchandise…

fertility fest - kawasaki

And the completely inappropriate pictures to be had. This girl is, what… 8? what the hell is she doing flashing the peace sign all up near that? Seriously. Future hussy.

fertility fest - kawasaki

If it was 11am, and you were walking around with a beer in your hand, and a guy comes up to you with this thing on his face… wouldn’t you have had the same reaction I did?

fertility fest - kawasaki

This is jon’s boss, Jeremy. Look at his hat. Look… closely… at his hat.

fertility fest - kawasaki

And then the crowds parted and packed in closer together. It’s time for ceremony! It’s time for a parade! It’s time for… a 6 foot tall penis carried by drag queens? < record screech >

fertility fest - kawasaki

fertility fest - kawasaki

Oh, jesus. Was it busy. We saw more Americans here than anywhere else we’d been in Japan. I look at pictures like this and think about how very much some of you would hate to be here. But I suppose that’s what you get when the world keeps growing and everyone wants to live in the city, eh? Normally, I have no problem with this but it does make for finding a restroom a bit challenging.

fertility fest - kawasaki

I guess I’ll leave you with this. Because… well, just because I think it’s funny, i guess. All the japanese women waiting in line for their picture were patting it on the head and demurely standing behind it. You gotta get up in there, ladies!

fertility fest - kawasaki

Who Goo? FUGU!

For two years, we’ve been talking about it. When we came home last year, people asked us… so, did you do it? And we had to quietly say “no” to each of them. It’s not the fear of eating something that will kill you in a few minutes, but rather… the reviews of those who had made it out alive.

Okay. Okay. I’m being dramatic. Hardly anyone dies from eating fugu these days. The fatalities you hear about are generally in back-ally sorts of establishments or from fishermen who think they’ll probably be fine just hacking the little fishy to pieces right there on the boat.

fugu restaurant - yokohama

It’s really hard to become a certified fugu chef. And when someone dies in your establishment, you lose your license forever. (Historically, a sushi chef was supposed to commit honorable suicide by his fish-knife, should his sushi kill anyone else.)

So what did it taste like? You’re dying to know. It sounds funny, perhaps a little lame, but… it tasted a little bit like chicken. Sometimes. See, we had it a few ways.

First out came our mandatory appetizer, which was thickly cut fish skin (very gelatinous. not very much flavour) and green onions. Meh.

fugu restaurant - yokohama

Next up we ordered it breaded and fried, which tasted almost exactly like chicken wings. I was searching for the bleu cheese dressing. Fugu even has a really strong bone that was left in, which made the chicken wing comparison that much more appropriate.

fugu restaurant - yokohama

Time for the main event: fugu sashimi. It was incredibly light, almost too delicate to taste. A squeeze of lime was really all the sauce you wanted, because it was so easily overpowered by the ponzu or scallions that they served it with.

fugu restaurant - yokohama

And it’s not like it was cheap. I want to taste it, you know?

fugu restaurant - yokohama

After this, we did yaki-fugu, and they brought out a set of hot coals to grill our fish on. The fish was so fresh it was twitching. Twitching. Please watch this:

The grilled fugu was our favourite by far. It started to take on the soft, melty attributes of halibut. Really nice!

fugu restaurant - yokohama

Sake was copiously poured throughout the night, and I swear… one of these times I’ll learn my lesson not to drink so much on a school night. There was sake with fish-tale on the menu, which a couple people opted for. I’m so glad I stayed away from that. It was the foulest smelling thing evar. EVAR. yuck.

fugu restaurant - yokohama

The last thing we got was fugu nabe, which is a stew of the fish in fugu-broth. There’s something really spectacular about julie schooling us all on the magic-that-is-induction and how we could stick this bamboo and paper basket onto the heating element but it didn’t catch fire. Which is kind of fantastic.

fugu restaurant - yokohama

The nabe was kind of fantastic too. While fugu isn’t in your future, I think we should have a “japanese stew” night at our house sometime soon. They’re really easy and really tasty.

fugu restaurant - yokohama

And that’s it! This is the core of our group, people you’ve seen around teamEggers for the past few months: Jon, Emi, Brian, Me, Julie, Will.

fugu restaurant - yokohama

Have a great night. Thanks for tuning in.

Hanami: Naka-Meguro / YoYogi

“Spring” is the only season I’ve ever tagged in the blog, which… makes me wonder. Why? I don’t even particularly like spring. If I had to pick a favourite season, fall wins by a landslide. The colour palette is way better. But with spring… it’s easy to focus on how drastic it is.

April rains, and rains. And it’s hot and it’s cold. And then you blink, and in an instant if seems as if the whole world has exhaled. It’s quite breathtaking, when you come right down to it.

yokohama spring

So it’s no wonder then, that I post about spring so often. And springtime, in japan, is quite the place to be.

naka-meguro hanami

naka-meguro hanami

We’ve talked about hanami, yes? It’s perhaps the very best piece of japan we can take home with us: the tradition of stopping what you’re doing to celebrate the fleeting beauty of things. Celebrate how good things are. Be outside with your friends. Drink, merriment, etc. Have a… corona?

naka-meguro hanami

When that’s what they’re selling out of trucks on the side of the road, that is. The evening in Naka-Meguro, I think we ate dinner a total of 7 times. Julie, jon and I literally stopped at every food vendor that looked tasty, split something and moved on. I was so full I could have been rolled into the river, and I might not have minded.

naka-meguro hanami

Japanese girls have this adorable way of standing next to the low-hanging blossom and flashin the peace sign for the camera. If jon were an adorable japanese girl, this is what he might look like:

yoyogi hanami

**

Another day, another park. More springtime.

yoyogi hanami

Japan is not a place for the claustrophobic.

yoyogi hanami

But for those who stay, it’s totally worth braving the crowds. What a cool place to have been able to live in.

yoyogi hanami

I had to keep reminding myself that I might not be anywhere else like this again. We met Emi and Reece at a party on a sunday afternoon, in yoyogi park. It was exactly how you might imagine a party in a tokyo park look like: loud music (until the cops come and tell them to turn it down), booze, & dancing. And a lot of people.

yoyogi hanami

In my natural state, I’m kind of a downer and have to be coerced into have a good time. Thanks, jon. (On the flip side, look at my fantastic glasses. Ashley said I was “so fitted” or something with this coat.  I think she meant I matched.  Am I an old lady because I think teenagers speak a different language?)

yoyogi hanami

Also… Emi and Reece are so totally perfect for each other… they even match today:

yoyogi hanami
yoyogi hanami