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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Buying women's underwear and fake blood

For O-Bon there is Bon-Odori (O-Bon dancing). In Hokkaido, but not in the rest of the country, this is usually accompanied by a fancy dress competition. The last day, everyone that wants to shows up dressed as anything they want and dance. The best costumes get prizes.

This year, I wanted to participate, so I went and signed up at the office organizing the big Bon-Odori in the middle of Sapporo. I thought you just gave your name and maybe contact information, but there were boxes labeled "Team name", "Costume Title", "Point of interest", "Problems along the way", "History", etc. So I felt obliged to come up with funny names and interesting things to write. I ended up spending more than an hour writing, and the old man accepting the applications stopped by and asked me: "Still not finished?!" from time to time. I ended up with "Team Jonas" (which my Japanese friends think was hysterical...) and a costume title of 「白人なのに、白塗り」("hakujin na no ni shironuri", "despite being a white person, traditional Japanese white painted face").

I then bought some maple syrup, chocolate syrup, red food coloring, and face paint (black and white).

Since O-Bon is similar to Halloween not only when it comes to costume parties, it is the time when you go to your ancestors' graves and clean them, and when ghosts of ancestors are said to come calling, I wanted to dress up as a Japanese ghost. Japanese ghosts wear white kimonos and small triangular head thingys.

Since white kimonos are only used by brides at their weddings and for dressing the dead, white kimonos are not sold anywhere. I went around to lots of kimono shops and asked for white kimonos or yukatas. At first, everyone looks at you like you are a moron and they explain that no one wears white (I figure there should be a market for people that want to dye their kimono or yukata themselves, but apparently not). When I explained that I wanted to dress up as a ghost and go dancing, everyone became very helpful, though.

In one shop, and old woman found me a very very long kimono in cream color. It is a kimono that women wear under the actual kimono (of some formal and huge type, apparently), and it was only 200 yen (2 dollars)! So I bought that one.

I wanted a white obi (belt) too, and of course these are also not sold. But again, in a different shop, a woman suggested a women's under-belt of some kind (women have super wide obis, so the stuff hidden under them are about the width of men's obis), which was white. So I bought that. And a yukata that they had that looked cool. She also showed me: "This cute towel that has cute ghosts", since I was talking about ghosts. So I bought that too...

I also visited another kimono shop with used kimonos. They said that the only white stuff they had was underwear kimonos for girls, but then took out 30 or so kimonos like that for me to try. Japanese girls are very short, even compared to me. This mean that the underwear kimonos were super short (so they do not show outside the already short normal kimonos for women). It also did not help that Japanese women have bodies that are about as thick as my legs, which meant a lot of the kimono was used to cover me sideways, making it even shorter... But since they entertained me with lots of kimonos for an hour or so I felt I should at least buy something there, so I bought one of the underwear kimonos. It had a very nice white color, perfect for blood stains, but it was too short. So in the end I ended up using the 200 yen cream colored kimono instead.

So the next day I walked around downtown only dressed in women's underwear. Maybe that was why everyone kept staring? Or maybe it was the blood covered face...

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