Sometimes you just stumble upon amazing performances – for free – if you just keep yourself busy enough and are not afraid to explore the back streets of Tokyo. On a converted parking lot in Shibuya back in September I saw the music and performance art group Kao=S, with amongst others the gorgeous Kaori Kawabuchi (川渕かおり) and led by guitarist Shuji Yamagiri (山切修二), in the first photo, who is known among gamers and otaku alike as one of the main motion actresses for the hit game Final Fantasy where she used her sword performance skills to help give the computer generated characters a realistic motion pattern. I am not sure that performing in broad daylight is the most fitting for a group like this, but they pulled it off well in the scorching sun and way above 34 degrees heat. The musicians and sword performers combine to make an exciting and artistic show, I wish I could have gotten good shots of the entire cast, but most of my shots were lost due to the glaring sun blowing out most highlights. If you want to see snippets of their show I recommend heading over to their homepage here. And by the way, I didn’t do any photoshop on the girl in the last photo, she must have the most amazing skin of any human being alive in Japan today – absolutely flawless. Either that or she is a remarkable talent in the world of cosmetics.
One of the classically Japanese things or concepts that you don’t see too often these days are armored samurai warriors on the streets of Tokyo! These men had just come from a firing a salute at the opening of the Nihonbashi 100 year Anniversary festival here in central Tokyo. In Japanese these suits of armor are called yoroi, and it’s easy to see where the influence for some of the armors worn in the Star Wars movies came from. The first photo is my favorite, you can see his match cord, use to ignite the powder that fires the rifle, is still lit and smoking! These matchlock rifles are called Tanegashima from the name of the island where they were first introduced in 1510 by ship wrecked Portuguese. Like in Europe, they changed the nature of war forever when it suddenly became much too dangerous for the rich and noble to fight among themselves: a peasant boy could be trained in a day to kill off a samurai or a knight who had spent a lifetime training and preparing his horse, sword and armor. As cool as these guys look, I’m glad we live in a more peaceful world now!