A couple of weeks ago I saw these two wonderfully dressed up girls taking part in the annual oiran parade in Tokyo’s Asakusa district. You might remember my post about the much bigger oiran parade in Kitashinagawa last year, where I wrote more about the history of the oiran women of old Edo. These girls took on the part of maids to the older oiran and the parade is meant to reenact the oiran ritual of going out to visit a customer at a restaurant. Real oiran (which were the predecessor of the much more famous geisha) haven’t been seen on the streets of Edo (or Tokyo) since the 18th century and even then they were considered old fashioned.
These two maids did great in the cold weather and intense sun of this unusually sunny day. It is very difficult to take good photos when there is too much or too little light though! I hope you don’t mind.
More photos from the white egret dancers – the shirasaginomai (白鷺の舞) at Asakusa’s Sensoji last weekend. During the ceremony one of the participants throw confetti in the air. I didn’t manage to catch any this time around, but they are actually small good luck charms that the people watching were really happy to catch as they blew past in the strong wind. The kids were adorable when they fought the impulse to run out and catch them! This is definitively one of my favorite ceremonies of Tokyo!
From the blog of Janelle Patrick I learned about Denpoin, the big quiet, brooding temple right next to the much more famous Sensoji in Asakusa. After all these years in Tokyo I had never done more than wondering what lies behind the temple but suddenly I learned that there was a whole garden behind those tall walls! The garden is normally closed all year round, but to help raise money for the victims of the earthquake in 2011 the garden and an accompanying art exhibition they have been opened to visitors for just 300 yen. Until May 7th you get the chance to visit one of the most beautiful spots in Tokyo. I talked to the staff and they told me they open the gardens sometimes, for very special occasions but they didn’t know if or when they would open to the public again. On top of the gardens, there was also an exhibition of traditional Japanese art in the form of huge wooden ema, votice picture plates, that is quite probably the most value for money exhibition of Japanese traditional picture art anywhere in the world. If you are only ever going to see one exhibition of traditional Japanese art in your life, this should be it! I have never seen anything nearly as good! All in all, you have only a few days left to see this otherwise hidden part of Tokyo and possibly the greatest collection of ema in Japan!