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.
In the last days of the war there were many air raids over Tokyo, and in the biggest of them all most, if not all, of the Asakusa district in modern day Taito Ward was destroyed in the massive fires. In the years it took to rebuild the main temple, the Sensoji, a few new dances and festivals were put on as a treat for the survivors and those helping out in rebuilding the Asakusa. One of these were the Golden Dragon Dance (金龍の舞), where a troupe of musicians would perform on a cart while eight men whirled around an 18m long 88kg heavy dragon puppet. These days the dance lives on and is put on at the temple three times a year. At the Tokyo Jidai Matsuri, or festival of the ages, I saw it swirling around and entertaining the crowds and particularly the kids and the young ladies. I am sure plenty of photographers were very please as well as the heavy dragon head came rushing towards them! Asakusa, with the new lighting design at the Sensoji temple is one of the absolutely most popular tourist spots in the world!
I raced to Kyoto to check out their Jidai Matsuri, or festival of the ages, only to come back to Tokyo and find that we had our own as well, in Asakusa. Not quite as big as the Kyoto one, and only human participants they are quite different. I saw these great looking people at the festival today, which began very crowded and thinned out considerably towards the end as we had an unseasonably cold day. I really hope I didn’t catch a cold after spending 4 hours out in the windy streets of Asakusa! If you haven’t been to either one of the festivals before, you really should pick at least one for next year’s To Do list. Enjoy, more photos to come!