Christmas is coming and Christmas trees, decorations and light shows are going up all over Tokyo. One of the more spectacular ones is the big tree in the middle of Omotesando Hills, a shopping center in the fashionable Omotesando district. On the hour every other there’s a bit of a special light and music show at the base of the tree above the very attractive miniature winter town. In fact the whole tree is decorated with miniatures and great fun to watch both from a far and up close. If you are passing by I recommend a quick stop to visit the tree!
Design Festa is the most famous amateur design and arts festival here in Japan. It is a massive two day event that takes place twice a year attracting hundreds of thousands of artists and visitors. The majority of exhibitors are artists and designers but there are three stages on site that continually hosts live events, bands and performers. At the 40th Design Festa that took place last weekend I saw a very good punk band, Bebop, perform at the outdoor main stage. Punk has never been a very big genre anywhere in the world and especially not here in Japan, but the local bands are top class. This is quite different from the punk bands I grew up with! You can check out their homepage here, but they sound best live, together with their dedicated and energetic fans of all ages!
It was good to do a bit of live music photography again. Despite the fans rampaging in front of the stage I could sneak in a few close ups of the band. The slight spraying of beer I received was totally in the spirit of the show and quite fun!
One of my favorite things to do on any festival is to check out the local Hayashi teams, and especially the dancers in masks and costumes. Some teams are made up of locals, others are professional teams that service many festivals and events in a prefecture or city or neighborhood. Each dancer is associated with a certain costume and mask and the dance and movements are unique to each “character”. I have a few favorite characters but I won’t say which! One of the hayashi dancers I saw at the grand Kawagoe Matsuri had her little boy up on stage who enjoyed doing his best to keep the audience and musicians in high spirit. Don’t worry, lots of people were keeping an eye on him and every time he got too close to going over the rail they would grab him by his pants and pull him back. Very funny to watch!
I totally missed this year’s martial arts festival at the grand Meiji Shrine but I had lots of fun at last year’s festival. Aikido was well represented with dozens of practitioners from several countries. When we think of Aikido we don’t imagine the use of deadly blades but sword art is also a central part of Aikido.