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Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009
A guide for femurs visiting Japan
By AMY CHAVEZ
Finally, what you've all been waiting for: a guide for femurs visiting Japan.
Femur, Latin for "thigh," is one of the largest, longest and strongest bones in the body. So it is important to provide them with healthy, cultural things to do when on vacation. After all, your femurs have been carrying you around for years, so you wouldn't want to disappoint them.
Japan, being a mountainous country, is a particularly healthy destination for femurs. Some femurous activities you can enjoy here are walking, hiking, climbing, skiing and snowboarding. But be sure to be femur-fit before you come to Japan as you will surely encounter some activities that present a challenge.
Take squatting over a Japanese style toilet, for example. It's hard to describe the experience if you've never done it, but to prepare for this activity which you may be engaged in several times a day, I recommend doing squats at the gym. These are special toilet squats, where you lower yourself all the way to the ground in a five-count: 1-2-3-4-5, and then hover for 10 counts before coming back up. I recommend a 10-count hovering position because you'll need at least that much time to get your bowels in sync. Eventually, you should be able to work yourself up to a one-minute routine: Lower 1-2-3-4-5, hover for as long as necessary, release, and back up to the standing position 1-2-3-4-5. And remember, good posture enhances performance.
All femurs, given the chance, will grow and build muscle around themselves. With the help of their neighbors, the quadriceps and hamstrings, you should be able to master the toilet squat just in time for your flight out of Japan. Then you can go back home and really impress your friends.
Many people will already be familiar with the Japanese martial arts that are designated National Femoral Treasures of Japan. In addition to watching or participating in these, I recommend watching a live sumo tournament. The excitement of sumo is so great that you'll find your leg muscles twitching along with each sumo player's move. This tightening and griping of the muscles in the thighs due to excitement is akin to a round of applause with the hands.
You should also be aware that the average Japanese femur is much shorter than the foreign one, so you may find your added height has you ducking to get through doorways. This will cause you to bow far more often than normal, especially to inanimate objects. People will just think you are extremely polite.
You're probably wondering if there are sightseeing opportunities specifically for femurs in Japan. Of course, there are.
One of the most popular anatomical places to visit is a place called Amanohashidate (bridge to heaven) in northern Kyoto. From the top of the mountain at Kasamatsu Park, you look over a sandbar lined with pine trees that reaches out into the sea and visually connects on the other side to another land mass.
In addition to this view being ranked one of the top three views in Japan, you obtain the optimal view via the femurs. People from all over Japan come to participate in this femoral activity, called matanozoki, or looking between the legs. To achieve this optimal view, stand on the special matanozoki platform with your back to the sea. Put your legs apart. Place your hands on your femurs and bend over, butt in the air, until you can see through your legs to the sea, now upside down, on the other side. The sand bar looks like it is a land bridge to heaven. Or so they say. This view is truly one of the ephemeral pleasures of Japan.
Of course there are many shrines and temples in Japan that sit up on top of hills and require a long hike to the top to get to them. Most of the very high ones now have rope ways to take you to the top. But if you're looking for the ultimate femur workout, I recommend Konpira-san, a shrine on top of Mount Zozu in Kagawa Prefecture that has 1,368 stone steps.
By the time you're finished with this task, you'll be ready for the ultimate femur fetish: the Japanese bath. As you soak in the hot, hot water, even the hips will be saying, "Hip hip hooray!"