balls

Vote Tanuki Party, for next leader of Japan

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タヌキ党に一票を!鎖国より、愛を。核燃料棒より金玉を。みんなの明るい未来。

More love, less isolation. Golden balls, not nuclear rods. A better future for everyone.

Balloon vine is a fun summer climber

経堂駅から農大に行く途中で、面白い庭がある家をいつも観察します。去年は色々なアサガオが育っていました。今は、背の高いフウセンカズラがたくさんの緑とオレンジ色の実を見せてくれています。私たちのベランダにもこの夏のつる草があります。

On the long walk from Kyodo station to Nodai (Tokyo University of Agriculture), there’s a house and large garden where the residents are always gardening. This year they created a huge, two meter high trellis of fusenkazura (フウセンカズラ). The name is literally balloon kudzu, and despite looking delicate, it’s very hardy. The vine produces lots of white flowers, followed by a multitude of green balls that then turn orange. This year, I’m growing two specimens on our balcony.

Small shrine in Akihabara provides respite and carnal spirituality

One of the pleasures of Tokyo is discovering small gems that are unexpected. Arriving a few minutes early to a meeting in Akihabara last month, I stumbled upon this small shrine that faces the south side of the Kanda River near Akihabara, best known for electronics, manga, and geeks. The surrounding streetscape is a crowded jumble of 80s buildings with a few pre-war relics.

It was great to duck into the shrine, and enjoy the shade, the running water in the stone basin for ritual hand washing, the wood structures, and the quiet of a place with few visitors. Enjoying this mini oasis, I realized that all the statues involve animals with huge balls.

I recognize tanuki, but I think there are other animals, too. On second viewing, the husband pointed out that all of the figures, despite looking quite different, are tanuki. Although many shrines feature foxes (kitsune, or oinarisama), it is rare to see a shrine focused on tanuki. A placard explains that “tanuki” is a pun on words that also means “passing the other” and refers to Edo women who competed with each other to produce male heirs.