Demon Banishing, Employment and Authenticity

The right to claim one is busy, is one that is reserved for those actually working. I shall simply say that I have been keeping myself occupied over the last week to the point that I feel that my usual staple hobbies have been under-utilised as time wasters.

On the job front, I actually have a development. I go to Gaba tomorrow to sign my contract as one of their employees or ‘tutors’. Despite my tendency for indolence and my slight distaste for being told what to do, my shrinking pride and somewhat ambiguous social identity gave me a kick up the backside to start applying for positions in earnest. I’m actually pretty happy with the result. Gaba are flexible to the point at which tutors book their own hours, giving me freedom to play around for the benefit of other commitments. Also, the prospect of teaching one-on-one is much less daunting than jumping straight into a classroom. Although, I’m sure that bridge will have to be crossed eventually for the sake of my C.V. Anyway, I sign the contract tomorrow and then have an intensive three day bout of training (10am-7pm each day). Wish me luck.

Setsubun

This is a strange one that doesn’t really translate into European cultures, unless you are Pagan or something. To mark the beginning of Spring, the male of the household would traditionally throw soy beans at people dressed in Oni (demon) costumes in aim of banishing evil spirits. My only problem is the lack of evil spirits evidenced around Japan. Looks like I bought that Proton Pack in vain.

I travelled to Zojoji temple for the festivities. While the soy beans seemed to be absent, people in traditional dress were throwing packets of dried food into the crowd. I didn’t bother barging my way through for the sake of a packet of crackers.

After I had had my fill of the clamouring for a packets of biscuits, I headed for the near-by Inari shrine. Easing myself onto the grass and propping my back against a rock, I was treated to the relaxing sounds of a talented saxophonist practising his songs.

On the Thursday night I had visited a friend I had made through a Tokyo language exchange. We met at Shimokitazawa, a nice little commuting town a few minutes away from Shibuya. First eating a little curry soup, we made our way to the local cafe/bar, of which my friend knew the owner. There we spent a pleasant time akin to something I would suggest was cultural authenticity. The place would hold five people at its maximum capacity and was probably the size of a large dining table. The owner crouched behind the bar, either knitting or serving drinks. While my friend went to the toilet (we had to use the supermarket toilets as the cafe didn’t have any), I managed, through broken Japanese, to find that she had travelled Europe, visiting Vidal Sassoon hair academies in order to become a better hairdresser. After she threw that dream, she decided to open the little cafe, spending her days talking to her customers and creating some very cool knitted hats that she sold from the bar. The cafe itself was decorated with her creations, including a hemp tissue holder. Little ethnic trinkets hung from the walls and held pride of place on the already diminutive bar space. My friend talked me through two of the owner’s wedding albums and we had a few laughs at two local quirks who dressed as Jesus for the wedding.

I think the language exchange has been really good for me, hermetic as I was becoming.

Anyway, have a better one and, for my friends in the UK – Enjoy the snow!

Chris

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3 thoughts on “Demon Banishing, Employment and Authenticity

  1. So I’m pretty sure you were the other Geijin taking photos of the Inari shrine at Zojoji Friday when I was there (where I also failed to catch either beans or the randomly tossed bagged treats!). Lovely photos and congratulations on the job opportunity! ~Alisha

    • Thanks! I didn’t see any other foreigners whilst I was taking photos of the Inari, but maybe it was me. I have blonde-ish curly hair and I was wearing a blue coat. sound right?

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