Despite its much-touted modernity, Tokyo is a surprisingly traditional city — both in customs and attitude. And as such, even in Harajuku, that mecca of fashion and youth culture, it’s still possible to see timeless sights such as this.
Japanese festivals are fascinating for many reasons, but especially intriguing are the participants. Men and women who one way or another don’t quite fit with the common image of the average salaried worker.
Something that is very much the case with this fella. A man meticulously turned out, and definitely not to be messed with.
The massive commitment that goes into maintaining a bonsai is sometimes hard to imagine, especially so as it is often passed on over countless generations. Hundreds of years of work and dedication with the sole aim being a perfectly shaped, aesthetically pleasing, tree. Each and every one of its owners or carers unrecorded — their names utterly irrelevant. All of them subservient to the arguably never ending quest for perfection.
Factors that, for me at least, further add to their natural, and also weirdly unnatural, beauty. Yet at the same time, none of the background stuff really matters. Not in the slightest. Only the bonsai does.
Despite the month coinciding with rainy season, the idea of being a June bride is still a very popular one in Tokyo — the potentially inclement weather clearly not enough to dampen the apparent romance of an early summer wedding.
Yet despite the possible setbacks, this young couple appear to have experienced pretty much the perfect ceremony. No rain whatsoever. Wonderfully lush greenery. Plus a setting just as picturesque as the traditional procession.
The formal — not to mention timeless — beauty of an official Japanese wedding photograph. All perfectly choreographed in the equally timeless and beautiful surroundings of a Tokyo shrine.
Japan happily adopts new trends and customs, more often than not blending them so effortlessly into the culture that in no time at all they are part of the culture. But, as rapidly as things change, in many ways they also stay very much the same. An impressive feat that is particularly noticeable when it comes to traditional festivals.
Almost always boisterous and packed affairs, it’s immediately clear that many of them haven’t altered much in the countless decades they have been held. Something that’s especially true when it comes to Asakusa’s Sanja Matsuri, which dates back as far as the sixteen hundreds in its current form. Plus many more centuries earlier in regards less organised celebrations.
An event that, along with the same customs, is clearly just as much fun as it has always has been.
Of a very similar intensity too.
The only real change being the faces on show — both of those involved, and those not.