Yesterday was a national holiday, the Seijin no hi, which roughly translates as the coming of age day. It is a day to celebrate all the people that turn twenty during the year, and thus turn into fully fledged adults. In Tokyo it also happened to be the day of one of the biggest snow storms for many many years! Tokyo was thick with snow and on any street you happened to pass you would see cars that were stuck in the sticky snow or cars that were unable to go uphill. I and a couple of other random people who walked past one minivan that was hopelessly stuck managed to get it moving after about 15 minutes of pushing and heaving. Great fun, but not very typical of Tokyo winter weather. Usually you see thousands of beautifully dressed young people but despite spending the day outside I did not see more than a handful, as several train lines had stopped running all subway lines were delayed more or less throughout the day. Here are two beauties that I managed to stop and ask to take a picture of! Normally it isn’t this easy to get people to pose, but I think they realized how special the situation was! As a bonus, the last photo is of a taxi who after struggling for 10 minutes trying to go up the slight incline of a hill decided to turn around and go back instead, it took 3 people the better part of half an hour to get the taxi away! Luckily there was very little traffic on the streets today.
The traditional dancing of Japan is not only performed by geisha, but also by ordinary people, like this girl performign at the Yasukuni shrine in central Tokyo this last summer. With roots in the 17th century, traditional Japanese dancing is now quite rare, and fantastically expensive as a hobby among ordinary people. This little girl was excellent in her pantomime and slow, studied movements. If you are interested in classical Japanese arts and culture it is often cheaper and easier to keep an eye out for the rare free performances like this! Most of these dances are performed alone, but sometimes there is an assistant clad in black staying silent and motionless in the background, only moving to hand props or arrange the clothing of the dancer.
At the recent Mitama Matsuri in Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine I saw this beautiful performer of Nihon Buyou, or traditional Japanese dance. These days the vast majority of dancers in this traditional genre are much older than this lady and it is good to see that at least some in the younger generation that keeps the tradition alive! During the four day festival dozens of dancers performed at this stage, free of charge and plenty of seating. I’m surprised not more people came to watch, but I was also happy to be able to focus on getting good photos without the crowds for once.