In March, the traditional month for all university graduations in Japan, I happened to be in Tokyo’s Kudanshita district, just near the Budokan in the Kitamaru Koen. This was the big day for all students at Nihon Daigaku, the biggest university in Tokyo and in Japan with almost 70 000 undergraduate students. The graduation ceremony had ended and hundreds of the most wonderfully dressed young women paraded past me, of course I had to snap a few photos! The traditional graduation dress of women in Japan consist of the kimono over which a hakama is worn, the trouser like skirt also often worn by martial artists. It’s a gorgeous combination! To this form of kimono, it is common to wear boots of the 1920′s era rather than the more traditional sandals.
Almost every time I visit the grand shrine in Kamakura, the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu there seems to be a wedding going on. It’s a great opportunity to see the finest kimono and listen to the thousand of years old ceremonial music being played live. I caught this ceremony a couple of days ago, the bride looked really nervous as she was taking instructions from the priest assistants. Since it’s currently Golden Week here in Japan the shrine was packed with tourists and visitors enjoying the great weather and that in itself should be enough to make any bride nervous! The groom looked much more relaxed. It’s not all that common to see these traditional ceremonies performed out in the open, usually they are confined to the inner sanctum of the shrines. At most you can see the traditional wedding parade if you visit places like the Meiji Jingu in central Tokyo, but this shrine in Kamakura (Kanagawa prefecture) is one of the best for seeing traditional weddings!
The coming of age day, the Seijin no hi, is one of the best public holidays in Japan. Even though very few foreigners are in a position to participate there is nothing better than just walking around Tokyo on the day (always a Monday) and see all the gorgeous young people dressed up for their big day. Where I’m from and I guess it is the same in many other western countries, coming of age day is mostly alcohol related. Although early January is very cold, there are few better days to spend an entire day walking around! The kimono is also a surprisingly warm garment, on the few occasions I have worn it I have never been cold. Enjoy!
I took this snapshot of four beautiful women in different kinds of traditional Japanese patterned kimono, enjoying a break while chatting and drinking Starbucks coffee. I really think Starbucks could use an image like this for their advertising in Japan, don’t you? I love the smile on her face! Taken with my lovely 135mm DC Nikon lens at the Nihonbashi festival in October.