|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Cross-dressing festival lives up to its queer billing
Cyzo (August) By Ryann Connell
Yokohama is home to an obscure festival where older women hand out bills to worshippers, but the twist in the story is that the biddies aren't quite what they seem, according to Cyzo (August).
There's something decidedly queer about the port city's Yasaka Jinja on the afternoon of the festival.
All the middle-aged women decked out in traditional garb are also caked thick in white face make-up adorned with lashings of eye-liner, lipstick and mascara and many top off the look with a wig mimicking the coiffures of the feudal era.
Cyzo describes the average middle-aged woman at the festival as closely resembling typical performers at countryside strip joints who probably should have retired decades earlier.
There's a reason the dozens of women look a little untoward - they're actually all men dressed up as members of the opposite sex.
Once the festival starts, the cross-dressing men form a large circle and begin dancing, which actually means simply thrusting their hips back and forth.
Their jig is accompanied by ribald songs with lurid lyrics such as how women have suddenly discovered hair on their bodies that wasn't there before, or a little boy playing in temple grounds who is stung on his family jewels by a bee.
Following the songs, the "women" begin handing out bills to festival-goers.
The rush to get the bills is incredible as they are said to promise good health to those who receive them.
Though it's probably not the classiest of Japan's festivals, Yasaka Shrine's Ofuda-maki festival maintains a deep and rich respect for cross-dressers throughout this country's history.
Cyzo points out that transvestism and homosexuality have long been regarded as acceptable to Japanese society, dating back to the Edo Period (1603-1868) when it was regarded as perfectly natural for samurai warriors to sodomize little boys, for kabuki's onnagata show (male actors performing as females) and even through to today when cross-dressers like Kenichi Mikawa, Ikko and Yakkun Sakurazuka make daily appearances on TV. (By Ryann Connell)
（Mainichi Japan） July 26, 2007