Tokyobling's Blog

Yoichiro Kawaguchi – Zenkokuji

Posted in Places by tokyobling on September 1, 2014

Right now the fourth Shinjuku Creator’s Festival is taking place mainly around Shinjuku station, but with far flung satellite exhibitions taking place around Shinjuku ward, like Hatsudai, Ichigaya and even Kagurazaka. I went to see the work of famous artist Yoichiro Kawaguchi, which you might remember from this blog last year.

This year Mr. Kawaguchi exhibits two statues called Ficco at the Zenkokuji temple in Kagurazaka, famous for its statue of the Bishamonten which is only uncovered for the public on special days. The temple was originally erected in Bakurocho in 1595 but moved to Kagurazaka in 1793. In 1945 the original temple was destroyed in air raids, the only thing that survived was the unusual guardians from 1848, which here are actually tigers whereas they are usually lions or foxes: these are the only guardian tigers in Shinjuku ward. You can see the patchwork of repairs on one of the tigers in the third image.

So in a sense, placing these to Ficco on either side off the temple guardians makes perfect sense. The Shinjuku Creator’s Festa goes on for one more week, ending on the 7th of August.

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Tonight – Mitaka Awaodori Festival

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on August 31, 2014

Tonight is the second night of the annual Mitaka Awaodori festival in Tokyo’s western Mitaka City (三鷹市). It start at 1800 but there is usually a couple of performances earlier in the day as well. Right now is just about the perfect timing for a festival, the weather is unbelievably cool for being Tokyo in August so you won’t have to sweat it out as much as usual! I was at the festival last night and it was as fun as usual. The crowds are thickest closer to the station so just keep walking and it will thin out a little at the end of the festival area. I saw my old favorites the Mitakaren (みたか連), and two new favorites for this year, Bikkuriren (びっくり連) and Fudouren (富道連) whom I have somehow missed all these years. I also saw Sakuraren who were just as good as always!

Mitaka city is easily accessible on the JR Chuo line, and the festival is near the south exit of the station. Enjoy!

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Harajuku Crossing Renewal

Posted in Places by tokyobling on August 30, 2014

Sometimes you forget to take the most obvious photos. I have passed through the street crossing in front of Harajuku station hundreds, maybe thousands of times. I dare say that the majority of tourists visiting Tokyo has passed this very street crossing at least once. There used to be this huge elevated walkway right on top of the slight hill that is Harajuku. It meant easier crossing as long as you weren’t afraid of using the stairs and you could also get a nice view of Harajuku station from above. But the walkway also meant that you could never get a proper feel for the area from street level, the view was always blocked by the walkway that extended over the entire street crossing.

Well, a couple of weeks ago the walkway was removed and suddenly the views all around were opened up. Just one simple change and it felt like a totally new place. I went back last night to get some photos and when I got home I tried to find a photo, any photo, of the walkway as it used to be for decades, but I couldn’t find any. Sure, it was ugly and unnecessary and I never liked it but now that it is gone, I miss it. Strange, isn’t it?

Google Streetview still has the old walkway in place though, so I added a few screenshot at the end so that you can compare for yourself. Maybe you have an old photo of the walkway to share?

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Minamikoshigaya Awaodori – Ebisuren

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on August 29, 2014

Last weekend was the high point of the year for all Awaodori fans in and around Tokyo. Two massive festivals took place, the grand Koenji Awaodori Festival and also the Minamikoshigaya Awaodori Festival up in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. The Saitama festival takes place on broad modern streets, much different from the intimate and down to earth Koenji festival, so there is a big difference in how the two festivals compare. Although not nearly as big and varied as the Koenji festival the Minamikoshigaya festival manages to attract several of genuine Tokushima teams which are generally regarded as the best in the world. It is not really fair to compare the teams, but there are some truly exceptional teams in terms of skill to be seen in this festival. One of them, a personal favorite and quite famous around the country is the Ebisuren straight from Tokushima Prefecture itself. They performed late in the evening of this very long festival but gave a near perfect performance, as usual.

Next year come August, if you wan’t to see Awaodori but are not too keen on the crowds of Koenji, I recommend trying out Minamikoshigaya, it is easy to get there from Tokyo as the Hanzomon subway line connects all the way through.

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