Design Festa is the most famous amateur design and arts festival here in Japan. It is a massive two day event that takes place twice a year attracting hundreds of thousands of artists and visitors. The majority of exhibitors are artists and designers but there are three stages on site that continually hosts live events, bands and performers. At the 40th Design Festa that took place last weekend I saw a very good punk band, Bebop, perform at the outdoor main stage. Punk has never been a very big genre anywhere in the world and especially not here in Japan, but the local bands are top class. This is quite different from the punk bands I grew up with! You can check out their homepage here, but they sound best live, together with their dedicated and energetic fans of all ages!
It was good to do a bit of live music photography again. Despite the fans rampaging in front of the stage I could sneak in a few close ups of the band. The slight spraying of beer I received was totally in the spirit of the show and quite fun!
There are so many festivals taking place in Tokyo this weekend I do not have time to spend on photo editing and blogging! So here are some of my personal favorites from this year’s Hachioji Matsuri, just a few weeks ago. A performer at one of the many dashi (mobile festival stages) are doing his best to entertain near the end of a long three day festival. I love how some of the kids love challenging themselves and get close to the scary performers in masks while some keep their distance.
If you are in Tokyo tonight there are any number of festivals to pick from, not least the one in Shibuya and the one in Akasaka! Have a great long weekend!
At this year’s grand Hachioji Matsuri I saw these three dragon head’s dancers (龍頭の舞), performing a 400 year old ritual dance with drums, flutes and great wooden masks. The dance itself is quite acrobatic, with great leaps and spins. There are very few performers of this dance left in Japan, but the traditions and the equipment is kept in shape by a few groups of dedicated performers. The three masks used by these performers were made by local craftsmen in 1712, making them the oldest masks in continued use by dancers anywhere in the country. They are decorated with horse manes and long bird feathers (which I learned was about 2000 a piece to buy new and wore out quite quickly).
It was a very hot day and it must have been quite exhausting to have so many performances outside in just one day.
At the Tomioka Hachimangu a couple of weeks ago I saw this performance of Indonesian gamelan music performed by a mixed troupe of dancers and musicians at the shrine itself. I had never seen it before and the fascinating music and movements were fantastic. Sometimes even traditional Japanese festivals show you things from completely different cultures. The performance was a huge hit with the audience. I overheard lots of people comparing it to the performances they had seen when visiting the island of Bali which in the last few years has become a very popular travel destination for Japanese tourists.