Monday, January 11, 2010

Captain Zooey Dedalus’s Complete Authoritative Guide to the Kansai Region of Japan (excluding Nara, Wakayama, Mie, and Shiga prefectures)

Picture of the Month

A yellow-skirted maid in Akihabara handing out flyers for what I can only assume is some sort of prostitution front.

Konnichiwa, loyal readers, or Welcome (for those less skilled than I in the subtle arts of the Japanese language) to another thought-provoking installment of Captain Zooey Dedalus’s Adventure Blog; the best source for cultural anthropology-substantiated insight anywhere on the internet. In my last account I reflected on the carelessness of Japanese shoppers and explored the semen-encrusted hallways of a Mito Love Hotel, and this month I am pleased to chronicle my latest and most impressive adventure destination of all: that carefree chunk of Japan known as the Kansai region.

The term Kansai is derived from the Japanese words kan, meaning tin can, and sai, meaning years-old; and is home to some of the friendliest people in Japan (so friendly, in fact, that the store clerks there kept smiling even after I’ve turned my back!). Aside from their jovial demeanor, Kansai people are well-known for abhorring natto, that dish of fermented soybeans mixed with rotten eggs that is Japan’s national food.

Yours truly receiving the 2009 Highly Distinguished Online Anthropological Travel Writing Award in recognition for his contributions to the world of cultural anthropology, regular anthropology, linguistics, literature, pop-culture, history, cultural anthropology, sociology, psychology, and cultural anthropology. Notice the people riding the escalator in the upper left corner of the shot.

Your typical Kansai citizen can be distinguished by his stubbornly ingrained habit of standing on the right side of the escalator, as evidenced by the above photograph. In the Kanto region (i.e., the area between downtown Shinjuku and Narita airport), people always stand on the left side of the escalator, leaving the right side open for those wishing to walk up. In Kansai, it is exactly the opposite! No one knows why Kansai people have adopted this strange custom, but it may be correlated with their natural tendency to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Kobe Harbor, home of the world’s largest spider web.

My first stop in the region was Kobe, which was devastated by a terrible earthquake in 1995 (Chikan 24 in the Japanese calendar). The city has rebuilt itself impressively, and now boosts more overpriced tour cruises than anywhere else in Japan. Kobe obtained fame as a port city after Japan first opened to Western trade after World War II, and many old homes belonging to European merchants still remain. These daring gaijin braved the hazards of Japanese society decades before the deadbeat English teachers and cosplay fanatics arrived on the scene; and here I take the time to thank them. Gaijin of the past, you blazed a trail that made it much easier for us to sleep with hot Japanese women, and for that I salute you.

All of Kyoto’s temples look the same, so I won’t even bother labeling this one.

My next stop was Kyoto, home of some of Japan’s most famous temples and shrines, some of which aren’t even replicas! Since it is not the anthropologist’s job to bother with trivial history long forgotten, I have little to say about this city. I did, however, see a geisha (high-class Japanese prostitute) wandering through the lanes of Kenninji temple near Gion, though her pimp forcefully prevented me from snapping any pictures.

Dotonbori, sort of the Times Square of Osaka (Times Square is a popular area in New York with lots of bright lights and overpriced designer shops) where young people go to view the latest fashions and take pictures of the Glyco Man.

Your narrator journeyed to Osaka primarily to partake of the local dish known as takoyaki (from the Japanese words yaki, meaning grilled, and tako, meaning taco), which I’d heard was the only thing of interest in Osaka. While I didn’t encounter any Mexican restaurants, I did observe (as only the trained anthropologist can) that Osaka is much older than the rest of Japan, with most of the buildings dating back to the mid 1960’s. Strangely, aside from Kyoto’s venerable temples, most Japanese cities have few buildings built before 1945. The true reason for this strange phenomenon remains a mystery, but I am working on a research paper conclusively proving that the Japanese people lived in castles with samurai (a kind of Japanese warrior) until the invention of the rice-cooker necessitated the need for electricity-wired homes.

Anime magazines not intended for those under the age of 18, or for those offended by precocious schoolgirls engaging in sex with multiple partners.

Finally, I encountered a shop in Osaka that specialized in an obscure form of entertainment known as anime, or Japanese cartoons. Now, though I am never one to shy away from even the most revolting of cultural oddities, I had not adequately prepared myself for the overwhelming number of animated nipples that assaulted me the moment I walked into that licentious den of fetishist smut. Traumatizing though the experience was, it did allow me to make the following deduction:

All anime comes from Japan.
All anime is sold in anime shops.
All of the anime sold in anime shops is pornographic.

Therefore, all Japanese anime is pornographic.

Try to argue with that logic, dear readers! Stay tuned for the next installment of my anthropological adventures when I relate my journey to Hiroshima, the site of one of the biggest tragedies of the 20th century: your author has his french fries stolen by a wandering deer.

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