Tokyobling's Blog

Fukagawa Hachiman Water Festival

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on September 2, 2014

The annual festival at the Tomioka Hachimangu is a grand event on normal years, but once every third year the festival goes into hyper mode and grows much larger than usual. The 2014 Fukagawa Hachiman Festival was one of these special years and the rituals and celebrations were massive. I could only visit one of the evenings and one of the days but it must have been great. The festival is also known as the water splashing festival and the streets of the processions are lined with shopkeepers and even local fire departments at the ready to soak the participants!

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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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