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!
It is always a challenge to photography evening time festivals in Japan but one of the most challenging is the Kagurazaka Festival at the Akagi Shrine which is really very dark. It is so dark that one of the local omikoshi has been fitted with LED lights to great effect. It looks fantastic when it goes down the stairs all lit up from inside, surging through the sea of people gathered to enjoy the festival. Still the locals of Kagurazaka are quite in love with their festival and I often see omikoshi-surfers, usually young women or children riding the omikoshi and cheering everyone up. Obviously I have never done it myself but it must be very difficult. This little boy I saw on the first night of the festival when I was just passing through was a true champ of the game! He has one foot each on the two main logs and nothing but the sole of his slippers to keep him from falling off. Small children usually sit down which is probably safer. It must be such a thrill though!
Yesterday saw several big and small festivals taking place around Tokyo, not least the Nezu Shrine festival I blogged about earlier. I had an hour free on Sunday night to visit the Kagurazaka Shrine festival which usually puts on a good show on its kagura, or stage. I missed the performances though, but I wasn’t too late to see the two fantastic looking omikoshi being carried around town. Having visited the same festivals several times over the years it is reassuring to see that nothing really changes. Most likely they omikoshi will be carried around the streets of the parishes of the locals for thousands of years to come!
Kagurazaka is a rather happening area in the eastern parts of Shinjuku ward and you can easily get there from the Kagurazaka, Ushigome-Kagurazaka or Iidabashi stations. It is usually liveliest on Sunday afternoons and weekday evenings, not least because the hundreds of restaurants and bars in the area.