Last week, in front of Meiji Shrine in Tokyo’s Harajuku district the national farming association held a small demonstration against the TPP proposal. You can read about it here on Wikipedia, but to put it in easy to understand terms, the day Japan joins the TPP is the day when Japanese agriculture and therefore the entire countryside outside the most major cities starts dying. I am absolutely against the TPP and all the problems with anti-democratic, pro-corporation and anti-environment laws that will be the result. Instead of just holding banners the farmers held a parade and then distributed free vegetables and flowers to any member of the public. To raise awareness about the danger of TPP they also distributed some very informative pamphlets and flyers detailing the problems. I wish them luck, and although I try to keep politics and negative things away from this blog, I just can’t let this one slide. I hope the grassroots anti-TPP movements around the world can join hand in this protest.
On November 3rd in 1852 the boy who would become Japan’s greatest emperor, Mutsuhito, was born. These days he is more well known as Emperor Meiji – the 122nd emperor of Japan, who took the throne in 1867 and guided the country from being an isolated feudal island state to become the first Asian state to defeat a major European power in war. To his honor, the Meiji Shrine is holding their grand Autumn Festival (明治神宮秋の大祭) which culminates on the 3rd with Kobudo, Kyudo, Aikido, Momote-shiki and yabusame (mounted archery). I am not going myself, but if you were, I would recommend starting with the Kyudo (zen archery) at 09:00, the moving on with Kobudo (old warrior skills like shooting, naginata, etc.) at 10:00 and catching the Momote-shiki (ritualized zen archery) at 11:00 and finishing with the Yabusame at 13:00. Be well aware that the best places to see the action will fill up very early, so if you are serious about getting a good spot to see the Yabusame (the best spot is about 15m after a target, there are usually three targets, and I prefer the first one) you might have to skip seeing any of the other events, or at least anything after 10 or 11 as avid yabusame fans will show up early. I love yabusame, but having seen quite a few already I would probably focus on catching the Kobudo (guns, with real black powder from ancient ninja recipes!). Here’s one photo of today’s event, Hogaku and Hobu, classical 17th century music and dance.
Last month as I was showing a foreign friend around Tokyo – first visit – we saw this gorgeous couple at their wedding ceremony in Tokyo’s main Meiji Jingu shrine. I know I have posted wedding ceremonies many times before but I just can’t help myself! The only ones who had the benefit of the parasol was the couple themselves, the others had to do without anything to shield them from the fierce sun that beautiful afternoon, hence their shut eyes!
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!