At the 44th Kagurazaka Awaodori Festival in Tokyo’s Shinkjuku Ward I managed to catch the final performance and grande finale of Takarabune giving one of their usual spirited performances. They have recently spent quite a lot of time promoting Japan and Japanese culture abroad and it is good to have them back in Tokyo! Always a crowd pleaser, I absolutely recommend trying to catch this excellent team for the mood, the atmosphere and the smiles!
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!