I think most people who visit Japan wonder a little about the people whose portraits adorn the bank notes, at least I do! At the Tokyo Jidai Matsuri (the Festival of the Ages) one of the final groups to enter the parade represent the westernization of Japan, with a postal office worker, a policeman and an actress that represents the first ever professional female writer in Japan, Ichiyou Higuchi (樋口一葉), who despite a short life (1872-1896) managed to impress the public with her poetry and novels. Today she is remembered and honored by having her portrait on the 5000 yen note. I have not read any of her work yet, someday I hope to. There is a film of her most famous novel, made in 1955 that also looks interesting.
At the festival, the actress was very popular and received a lot of enthusiastic encouragement from some unusually outspoken old men near me which made her blush and laugh. Very cute!
At both the Tokyo and the Kyoto Jidai matsuri (festival of the ages) we could enjoy what I think was processions of the Tokugawa Shogun in fantastic costumes, but I have never seen this particular costume or face painting before! It looks great though. Both men and women took part in this reenactment, but in real life I think walking like this in the huge shogun processions (horses were much rarer in feudal Japan than in Europe at this time) were limited to men. As usual, if you have any details, please share! I would love to learn more! The only thing I know is that they carry “keyari” (毛槍), a sort of ritual pole carried at processions or used in ritual dances. I’m not sure what the hair like material is, but I have seen monkey’s fur used in similar poles. Maybe it is just flax?