Nick Anderson/Hearst: Subtle Differences
1 month ago
KOMAKI, Japan — It's springtime in Japan and that means one thing.
Actually, two things. Penis festivals and vagina festivals.
It may sound like a sophomoric gag. But these are folk rites going back at least 1,500 years, into Japan's agricultural past. They're held to ensure a good harvest and promote baby-making.
Maybe they should hold more such festivals. Japan has one of the world's lowest birthrates (1.37 children per woman), which experts blame on stagnant incomes and changing gender relations.
The center-left government that came to power last year hopes to make child-rearing more affordable with a $280 monthly stipend per kid.
Meanwhile, the festivals provide an economic shot in the arm for host cities, a party for foreign tourists and expats, and a chance for locals to let loose, too.
One of the best-known penis festivals is at Komaki City's Tagata shrine, about 45 minutes outside Nagoya, every March 15. In a neighboring village, a vagina festival is held the Sunday before that. This year, that was the 14th — meaning rare, back-to-back genital worship days.
At the Hime-no-miya grand vagina festival, parents dress up their kids, pray for healthy babies, and celebrate with sake, beer and snacks galore.
In the morning, children carry a small vagina to the Ogata shrine. Later, some 40 grown men strain under the weight of a massive vagina while carrying it to the shrine in the main parade. They're followed by two smaller vagina litters.
At the end of the day pink and white mochi (glutinous rice ball treats) are hurled into the crowd.
The penis festival the following day drew far more foreign and Japanese tourists — some 100,000, according to a festival brochure. Festival foreplay included much posing with wooden and candy penises. The main event is the parading of a two-foot by six-and-a-half foot long phallus carved from Japanese cypress.
Rik Lindhome and Kate Micucci sing "My Self Esteem's Not Low Enough to Date You" live at the Fake Gallery in Los Angeles. Song by Riki Lindhome. Download the song for free on my website: http://rikilindhome.com/
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A CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. You keep one and lend one to your neighbor, with a small interest charge.
SOCIALIST: You have two cows. You look around for the neighbor who needs it most, and give one to them.
AN AMERICAN REPUBLICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?
AN AMERICAN DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous.
A COMMUNIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
A FASCIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.
DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.
CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows. They stampede and trample your neighbor.
BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, then pours the milk down the drain.
AN AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.
A FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.
A JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.
A GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.
A BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. They are mad. They die. Pass the shepherd's pie, please.
AN ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.
A RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.
A SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.
A BRAZILIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You enter into a partnership with an American corporation. Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.
AN INDIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship both of them.
A CHINESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported on them.
AN ISRAELI CORPORATION: There are these two Jewish cows, right? They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, who needs people?
AN ARKANSAS CORPORATION: You have two cows. That one on the left is kinda cute.