Saturday saw the annual Oiran revival parade through the streets of northern Asakusa, complete with fox dancers, one oiran and a number of geisha and various retainers and servants. The parade is just a reenactment of customs that were considered quaint and old fashioned even in the mid Edo-period (18th century). The location of the parade is not a coincidence, as it takes place a couple of blocks south of the old walled city within the city, the famous Yoshiwara district of Asakusa which was one of Tokyo’s most talked about pleasure or red light districts. Today absolutely nothing remains of the old Yoshiwara itself though except parts of the old street pattern. People today associate Yoshiwara with the old sex industry but in fact Yoshiwara was also home of comedians, professional story tellers and the 18th century equivalent of avant garde fashion houses.
The weather on this sunny Saturday was fantastic and I took plenty of photos, here are a first bunch, with more to come later on.
If you have grown tired of the night view of Tokyo from the usual spots like Odaiba, Tokyo Tower and Shiodome, there is always the south-eastern Toyosu park to discover. This little and largely forgotten piece of reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay recently got a lot more attention after it was decided that Tokyo would host the Olympics in 2020. Toyosu has been getting a huge public transport over haul in the last 3-4 years so I think the city office in Koto Ward were pretty confident they would get the Olympics anyway! Toyosu is connected to central Tokyo and to Odaiba (where much of the olympic events will take place) through monorail, subway, train, a promenade, several bridges and bike paths. Now all we need is a zeppelin station and water taxi service!
If you are in Tokyo today I can recommend a visit to the huge Sensoji temple in Asakusa to see the rather unique and beautiful white egret dancers – Shirasaginomai (白鷺の舞). Local children together with musicians and performers from the large Yasaka shrine in Kyoto perform in the ceremony that was only revived in 1968 using an old scroll from 1652 as basis for the dance itself.
More photos of the fabulous archers I saw at the Kyudo ceremony at Yasukuni shrine in the first few days of this year. January was bitterly cold but these steady hands never failed to hit the targets in this form of traditional archery called kyudo or often zen archery in the west. You can read more about the ceremony in my earlier post on the subject here. Enjoy!