Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Skin Whitening Cream?

This one made me a bit uneasy. I found my girlfriend using this cream and idly read the spiel on the back seeing it was in English. I was shocked to find that it claimed to be skin whitening cream. Does my girl so hate her own ethnicity that she wants to change her skin colour? I decided to study the cream more thoroughly. The description on the tube is remarkable for these two assertions:

"lightens skin tone by healing visible wrinkles" and

"prevents skin aging through effective whitening"

The claims are conspicuous for their implausability and incompatibility.
Paler skin is the result in the first case while in the second it has become the cause. Curious. Good trick if you can manage it.

My lover on the other hand claims total innocence. She got the cream, she said, because it is cheap and effective. It contains both foundation and ...something in Japanese that girls put on top of the foundation. Furthermore, she didn't know it claims to be lightening cream and didn't buy it as such. Being unable to read English, she was bothered not at all by the description on the tube.

So there.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My thoughts on wedding customs

When thinking of the wedding ceremony, I have always been dismissive of traditional customs. I have no respect for a ritual designed to glorify the superficial aspects of relationship over the substantial (why is there no emphasis of the wedding night, for example? No photos, videos, public toasts or speeches?)

I have no desire to sacrifice one of the most important days of my one and only life to empty ritual, lining the pockets of every hypocritical money-hungry parasite living off the vanity and earnestness of innocents in the process. Thousands of dollars for wedding photos? Those people should be shot. I want nothing to do with matching china, bridal veil styles and table centrepieces. In fact, not only would I eschew traditional wedding customs, I would like to demonstrate my contempt for mainstream culture by avoiding human practices of all kinds, even those which serve to separate the human species from our closest primate relatives.

"I would like to get married naked", I told my girlfriend suddenly.

"Why?", she asked, looking puzzled.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Hakone Checkpoint

Last weekend I went with my girl to Hakone, the hot-spring resort town about two hours from Tokyo. It was only mildly disappointing, with the onsens a pale overpriced imitation of those in Kagoshima, but the food and the service in the ryokan was very good.

But the most interesting thing to see was a little side trip on the last day, when we went to Hakone sekishyo, the reconstructed checkpoint that guarded the entrance to Tokyo during the shogunate, when Tokyo was known as Edo. There were guardrooms, inspection chambers, administration offices, barracks for troops, even a small jail. I was interested to learn, however, that Hakone checkpoint, known for its strictness, was, according to the brochure,

"primarily responsible for keeping women from escaping from Edo."

That's all the English-language brochure said about the subject, leaving me wondering just what that was about. In the inspection chambers were teams of female officials who inspected women from Edo. Why were these women (known as deonna) trying to get out? Were Tokyo women being systematically abused? Where did they want to go? Was there some other women-friendly place in Japan 200 years ago, some kind of medieval harassment-free safe house?
Was Tokyo really that bad ?

Eventually I worked it out, dictionary in hand, through Chizuru and the helpful staff. The checkpoint officials were on the lookout for escaping hostages, women from the families of rival daimyos to the shogun who were being held to guarantee the good behaviour of feudal lords in distant parts of Japan.

There. Just the normal cruel politics of humanity. Nothing sinister.
Hakone Checkpoint: Hard on the chicks