More photos of last weekends Shibuya in the rain! It is fun to take photos of people using umbrellas, walking through rain. The rain and the need to get out is gives people a certain “something” in their look. With a very wide angle lens like the one I used, one of my very few zoom lenses (a 17-35mm f2.8 Nikon), umbrellas tend to block your view as people “sneak up” on you from behind. I also posted one of my mishaps (they usually end up in the trash can of my computer), but I though it looked interesting as an illustration of the lights of Shibuya. You can compare it with a very similar, focused, photo taken a few seconds earlier. In the last photo you can see how restaurant signs keep getting bigger and bigger.
We had a couple of typhoons pass Japan in the last few day, not close enough to close us down but close enough to bring rain and slightly chilly weather (even below 20 degrees celsius). Yesterday’s festivals and event were pretty gloomy in the steady drizzle so instead of visiting a lof of festivals I took these photos passing through Shibuya’s Center Street district. I’ve noticed that not many people bother to take photos outside when it is raining, so I figured I should give it a shot. Japanese people are usually very careful about not getting wet in the rain so umbrellas come up for much slighter rains than in many other countries.
During the years I have lived here in Tokyo I have noticed that Shibuya is getting denser and denser, with taller buildings, more signs, more neon lights and billboards, and more and more people. In these photos you’ll see a Shibuya that is by normal standards for a Saturday evening, almost deserted! More photos to come!
Easily the best thing about the festivals, that part which strike me hardest, is the way that the festivals take precedence over everything else. There are no city officials, no policmen, just the local community coming together and enacting the rites of their fathers and father’s fathers before them, and so on, for as long as people have lived in this area (in this case, over 900 years). The omikoshi of Maruyamacho (円山町) stopped traffic and commandeered the streets in their procession through the heart of modern and commercial Shibuya. It was great to see everything stopping around them as they made their way to the big scramble street crossing in front of Shibuya station. I walk these streets often and it’s good to see the connection between the hyper modern fashion sensitive Shibuya and the ancient folk traditions and religions of the local community.
The standard garment for any festival in Japan is the hanten (半纏), a lose coat worn on top of almost anything. Some them are huge, of lose material and favored by for example yosakoi dancers, some are very hard and tightly woven with large threads and fire resistant, the perfect body armor for firefighters. The standard hanten though, can be of almost any material. Some people go ahead and get personalized collars that they attach to their hanten, usually with their personal names or family names and sometimes family crests or club allegiance or official titles. In this case, it is a small crest of Shibuya above the name. On the back of the hanten, you’ll usually find the sedaimon or semon which is usually the crest or symbol of the neighborhood or association. Hanten also make nice souvenirs, especially if you are into antique ones, usually very small.