I took these photos of the Rose of Versaille themed window decoration at Isetan department store in Shinjuku a couple of months ago. I meant to post this straight away but the photos got stuck in editing limbo for the longest time. Excuse me! Still, fans of the game-changing Rose of Versaille manga series from the 70s will get a kick out of seeing these – each window is decorated to the theme of one of the characters in the famous shojo (girl’s) manga about a girl who is raised as a son and takes up the post as captain of the guard in Paris just before the revolution. It is quite possibly the story that kick started a generation of female manga readers in the 1970s and as such the whole genre is indebted to this fantastic comic book series. Those who are not fans of the manga can still enjoy this masterclass in window decoration!
My goal for every New Year’s is to perform my Hatsumode at three shrines before the rise of morning sun. Personally I don’t ask for anything when I pray at these shrines, I just express gratitude for being alive and in good health to see the start of a new year, and to pay my respects for the coming year. The last of the three shrines I visited this year was right in line with the large Yasukuni Shrine and the tiny Tsukudo Shrine, it was in fact the parent shrine of that last little shrine, the hill top Tsukudohachiman Shrine (筑土八幡神社). It’s origins have been lost in time and war, but the original shrine was inaugurated here sometime between 809 AD and 823 AD, after an old man in the area claimed to have heard from the god Hachiman in this spot. In 1945 AD the shrine was completely destroyed by the US Air Force in one of the many raids of that year, only the Torii (built in 1726), the gate, remained mostly unharmed from shrapnel and fire and it is today the oldest Torii in Shinjuku ward. I didn’t get a good photo of it unfortunately.
More photos of the wonderful back streets of Kagurazaka. The area is not only home of the last genuine geisha house in Tokyo, it is also traditionally nicknamed Little Paris, Petit Paris or even Furansuzaka (French Hill) for the historic connections with France here. Although the place has become more Japanese over the last decade or so there are still a huge number of French restaurants and lots of French people living in the area (well, comparatively of course!). The backstreets are often paved in the manner of Paris and it reminds me a lot of Gion in Ginza. Welcome to one of the hippest areas in Tokyo right now!
Kagurazaka is the name of one of Tokyo’s hippest towns. The little town inside the metropolis has been a favorite drinking and dining spot for as long as Edo was a capital and all through its rebirth as Tokyo. Still today the backstreets of Kagurazaka is an interesting maze of little bars, big restaurants, tiny eateries and even Tokyo’s last properly functioning geisha house. I took a stroll in the area a few weeks ago and got these photos. More to come!