Tokyobling's Blog

Oiran Parade – Asakusa Yoshiwara

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on April 15, 2014

Saturday saw the annual Oiran revival parade through the streets of northern Asakusa, complete with fox dancers, one oiran and a number of geisha and various retainers and servants. The parade is just a reenactment of customs that were considered quaint and old fashioned even in the mid Edo-period (18th century). The location of the parade is not a coincidence, as it takes place a couple of blocks south of the old walled city within the city, the famous Yoshiwara district of Asakusa which was one of Tokyo’s most talked about pleasure or red light districts. Today absolutely nothing remains of the old Yoshiwara itself though except parts of the old street pattern. People today associate Yoshiwara with the old sex industry but in fact Yoshiwara was also home of comedians, professional story tellers and the 18th century equivalent of avant garde fashion houses.

The weather on this sunny Saturday was fantastic and I took plenty of photos, here are a first bunch, with more to come later on.

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Shirasaginomai Asakusa Parade – Sensoji

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on April 13, 2014

If you are in Tokyo today I can recommend a visit to the huge Sensoji temple in Asakusa to see the rather unique and beautiful white egret dancers – Shirasaginomai (白鷺の舞). Local children together with musicians and performers from the large Yasaka shrine in Kyoto perform in the ceremony that was only revived in 1968 using an old scroll from 1652 as basis for the dance itself.

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A Procession of Archers – Meijijingu

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 9, 2013

At last weeks budo tournament in Tokyo’s Meijijingu grand shrine I saw this procession of archers making their way from the shrine ceremony to the archery, kyudo, range or dojo. There had been a big tournament and hundreds of archers had been ranked and tested. Unfortunately as much as I wanted I wasn’t able to gain access to the archery range itself. Maybe next year! They are wearing ceremonial clothes and carrying shrine ornaments and holy bows. Of course I couldn’t help myself from taking snapping a photo of a little boy eager to test his running skills next to the procession. Don’t worry, his mother was right behind him!

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Hachioji Matsuri – Geisha

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 1, 2013

This year too I was lucky to catch the geisha participation at the annual Hachioji festival in western Tokyo’s Hachioji City. This year they didn’t limit themselves to the parade but also had a wagon of their own, pulled by supporters while the geisha inside performed beautifully with singing, the stringed traditional shamisen, flutes and drums. One day I hope to be able to afford a proper night out with these ladies! The stories they could tell would make this japanophiles heart burst!

Hachioji City is often overlooked by many people living in the center of Tokyo but it is more densely populated than central London and has both a vibrant city center and quite a lot of nature. It might not be worth a visit for the casual Tourist but if you spend any length of time in Tokyo I recommend going there, especially if you have the opportunity to see one of their festivals! Hachioji is easily reached by the central JR Chuo Line from Tokyo or Shinjuku stations.

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