As with all countries, Japanese have notions and ideas of the characteristics of people in different areas of the country. Of all the areas of Japan (the 都道府県, the 47 subnational jurisdictions made up of one metropolis, one circuit, two prefectural cities and 43 prefectures), no area gets away without getting attributed with a few bad manners or cultural handicaps. The interesting thing about this nationwide system of good natured making fun of your neighbors, only one prefecture comes away with nothing but a positive image, and that is the north western Akita prefecture. As soon as you mention the name Akita, the associated saying of “Akita beauty”, Akita bijin (秋田美人) jumps into people’s minds. It is said that the most beautiful women of Japan are to be found in Akita prefecture! I have never been to Akita so I can’t verify the truth behind this saying but I am happy for the people of Akita to be regarded so universally positively by their fellow countrymen.
Naturally the tourism and commerce board of Akita prefecture make the most of “Akita Beauty” and use it fully in marketing and export, as these two gorgeous ladies dressed in the wonderful traditional dress of the “Komachi Musume”, the legendary village of beauties whose annual festival is famous across the country. I have seen this dress thousands of times on TV and in photos, but this was the first time I saw it in real life, and as an added bonus I got a packet of delicious Akita rice from them. I have to visit Akita soon!
This year’s Koenji Awaodori festival has passed and already I can’t wait for the next one! This year I saw some new dance teams (called ren in Japanese, 連) and had the chance to see a few of my old favorites as well. Despite the recent trouble people seemed determined to do their best and put on a good show, naturally the daytime setting changed the atmosphere quite a bit but as a few people have pointed out, photography got a lot easier! No weird color casts to edit out and I could shoot with more reasonable ISO numbers of about 1600. But shooting crowds in daytime is tricky since the photos will become so cluttered with people and colors, I had to rely much more on longer lenses to get a more shallow DOF. Photographers will nod their heads in agreement, others will just skip my boring writing and move on to the photos! The theme for this post is the lovely women of the Koenji Awaodori festival! Don’t worry, I will post more on individual teams and the handsome men as well.
The first photo of this post, as well as the first photo of yesterday’s post, is the wonderfully quirky and comic Damudanren, だむだん連, whose members rely on colorful costumes, wild dance moves and heavy makeup to put a smile on everyone’s faces. Absolutely one of the most easily recognizable and entertaining dance teams in Tokyo!
The shy lady in the third photo belongs to the Japan Post Office team, 郵便局連! I have seen them a few times and it’s always fun to see public worker teams (although the post office were privatized a couple of years ago). This year they had lovely new uniforms! There’s an older video on Youtube up here, not one of mine though.
The last photo is of course the huge and well organized Aoiren, 葵連. Aoiren has about 105 members and are especially well known for the young women performing the more traditionally male dances. With these larger teams I always wonder how they can keep the rhythm, since the drum section is usually about 100m behind the dance section? The bigger the team, the more routine they need! I’ll introduce the other teams in posts to come! Enjoy!
I had a little bit of extra time while in Harajuku on March the 27th. It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon and I snapped two shots of two very cute girls. One was waiting for her friend by Harajuku station, too beautiful not to notice, and a sharp dresser. The other girl… well, I was speechless! Her mom was proud and rightly so! Enjoy!
Dear all, even though it is against my nature and it’s against the purpose of this blog, we must all make sacrifices, and so now I call upon you to do your duty and check out these really boring photos from Tokyo. This is Ginza, one day in January. It might as well have been today. There is no visual change in Tokyo, shops are still open, people are getting on with their lives and we’re all in fine spirits and doing our best to stay healthy. Sure, there have been scheduled power cuts, but this is mostly because of the unexpected colds spell that has hit us. It’s mid-March but weather wise it is mid-Winter. So, people use more energy to heat their homes and so we must cut the power to more areas to make sure the people up north get as much power as they possibly can.
The situation with the nuclear power plant is now rated second on news, we have returned to the far more important job of worrying and caring for the people still in dire need of assistance in the increasingly cold north.
But unless you read Japanese news, you probably have no idea what is really going on in Japan, hence my series of blog posts on Boring Tokyo.
Here’s some boring scenes from Ginza. This is what it looks like today (but the actual photos are from January, I didn’t want to post them before, since they are so boring). I’ll post more photos taken today, in a few minutes. Hang on there.