Tokyo has three major religious festivals dating from the Edo period, one of them is the famous Sannou Matsuri taking place at the two Hie Shrines in Chiyoda ward, at the very heart of Tokyo. The main event is the three day procession, where about a hundred or so participants, including horses, a tree, and religious statues and shrines are carried, pulled or walked around some of the most famous areas of Tokyo: Yotsuya, Ichigaya, Kudanshita, Nihonbashi, Ginza, Kyobashi, Shimbashi, Yurakucho, Nagatacho. During these three days, the procession covers miles and miles of ground from morning to about 1700, and it is taking place right now as I write this, so if you are free I recommend heading to downtown Tokyo right now or tomorrow during the day to check out the grand procession! There’s a map with major points, the route and estimated times at this link (it’s a large PDF).
I went to see this procession as they neared the end of the route on the first day, it was the first day we have had so far with summer like levels of humidity and heat so I was drenched in sweat and pretty exhausted after just a few minutes of following the procession, I can only imagine how tired they must have been from walking constantly from 7:45, not resting more than a few minutes here and there, in costume and with all their gear, so have patience with the tired faces in these photos! And speaking about faces, in these processions participants are not allowed to wear make-up, so it’s a good chance to see normal Japanese women without cosmetics! To me at least, they look lovely. The white horse is especially holy in Japan, technically I guess it is a pony but it is still pretty inspiring. In these processions the white horse is never ridden, only led. Enjoy, more photos to follow!
Back in March, I had to change stations from Tokyo Station to Hibibya Station, and instead of hassling with the subway lines I decided to walk the not too far distance between the two station, bringing me right past Yurakucho station right at the point of dusk, the magic blue hour. The fact that I did this walk in March and am only now posting the photos shows you how far back logged I am with stories and pictures that haven’t been published yet – I even have a number of posts waiting in line from a couple of years ago! Walking is one of my great joys in life and having a camera along to accompany you makes it even better. Here’s what I caught on this short promenade, blue dusk sky, silver metal, and orange street lights. If you need a new photo for your desktop, here’s the third photo as a larger file. Enjoy!
The weekend has been rainier than most and unusually quiet here in Tokyo. I have been meaning to check out the new Hankyu department store in Yurakucho for some time but never had an hour to spare until yesterday. The store is paired with another huge department store for ladies, but the Hankyu Men’s is by far the more quiet one. Below the first store there is the first Monocle Cafe in Tokyo, Monocle originally being a magazine that reads like a catalog for stuff. Still, they know how to design a nice modern cafe and the unusual gin and tonic with yuzu jam was well worth the time and money. I don’t think there was much gin in it though. The cafe was surprisingly crowded and as fits the the most modern emporium of men’s fashion in Tokyo, most customers were about five times as stylish as me. I set my camera and snapped a few shots while leafing through the magazines and conveniently enough I found an article about the very same cafe that I was sitting in. The espresso was average, the tonic and yuzu was excellent. A new favorite, even!
Perhaps it is time for a useful post? People sometimes ask me to recommend things to do in Tokyo and one of the ideas I usually give is the Sunday antique markets. There’s a whole bunch of them all around Tokyo most Sunday afternoons, the only trick is to figuring out which one is on at which time. I have a few favorites, the markets at Ueno Shinobazu Koen, Yasukuni Shrine, Togo Shrine, Hanazono Shrine and this one, at the Yurakucho Internationl Forum, for example, the Oedo Antique Fair (大江戸骨董市). Yesterday on my way somewhere else I passed through the weekly market and had time to take a few photos. I agree – terrible photos and nothing creative here at all. Just some snaps to show you what it looks like. Next time I go I’ll try to get some nicer shots of the actual antiques.
There’s a useful, although incomplete list of craft fairs, antique markets and flea markets on this web calendar, in Japanese only. And one more similar calendar here. Fun trivia – in Japanese the word Flea and Free is written exactly the same in Katakana, leading many Japanese to believe that the term “flea market” is actually “free market”. So don’t be surprised if someone talks about “free markets”.
Also, if you are into antiques and in Tokyo in December, don’t miss the Heiwajima Antique Show, the oldest antique market in Japan, December 16, 17 and 18 this year.