Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The 1st but still late Tokyo 2013 Fix Post! (Image Intensive!)

In case you're wondering about the title (Tokyo Fix 2013)...it's because I find it quite necessary to revisit Japan (mainly Tokyo) every year to recharge.

In my previous company, I had the pleasure of popping by Japan a couple of times every month so when I left, I had major withdrawal until my dad suggested that I make yearly trips~ Good ol dad! =D So for the last couple years I've made annual trips and therefore annual contributions to Japan's economy~

Popped by all the usual places: Harajuku, Ueno, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Asakusa..etc But one of the highlights I'll be sharing today is the Oiran parade in Asakusa! Thanks to a chance spotting of the poster in Asakusa...lucky!

But first, I want to introduce my short-time 'pet' I 'adopted' near the Meiji Shrine (Harajuku):


Which I then proceeded to take photos of my pet acorn here, there and everywhere the next couple of days ^_^;;


I always love the walk leading to the Meiji Shrine...even if it's sunny everywhere else, there's gorgeous foliage, SO MUCH greenery surrounding the area that it's a completely different atmosphere. Much cooler, super refreshing and absolutely serene.



 
The drums of sake are always pretty to look at with all that colour & calligraphy~
And then the obligatory touristy shot from my friend's phone (it was her first time there)~


In the grounds, a sneaky shot from my friend's camera ^_^

 

 

Prayer Plaques. This particular one says "To meet and marry a wonderful person. To build a blissful
family together." 
 
The next night we went to Asakusa to take in the Sensoji temple with it's night lightup~ Since last year, I've decided it's nicer to come late because Nakamise (the shopping street leading to Sensoji) is closing/closed so that's a whole bunch of other tourists & tour groups out of the way =P Plus the lights make for pretty photos!



See what I mean? Nice and empty~
 
 
 
 
And with that we ended our night. Just as we were crossing the road to the train station, we noticed a poster with an Oiran (花魁) in a procession (like how she would en route to meeting a patron) and lo and behold it was happening that coming Saturday!
 
Sneak shot while waiting for the parade to start~

Turns out it was the annual Ichiyo Sakura Festival Edo Yoshiwara Oiran Parade (一葉さくら祭り江戸吉原おいらん道中), that's held on the 2nd Saturday every April! So that Saturday we trooped back to Asakusa for our first live look at a real Oiran! Parade photos after the cut!



An Oiran is basically a very highly skilled high ranking courtesan, similar to a Geisha but MUCH more exclusive and pricey. You can read more about the Oiran HERE. Do note that in modern day Japan, the few Oirans still in practice are in it more for preservation of cultural heritage than anything else.


Beautiful beautiful weather!

After waiting for almost an hour, during which the MC described the origin, weight etc of the exquisite Oiran's OOTD, we heard a collective "ohhh~~~" coming from the crowd further up the route and knew that the procession had begun!
 
First came the street performers, dancing to the music~
 
 
Then came the Oiran's entourage of attendants~ All splendid to look at!
 
 
 
 
And then, the moment everyone'd been waiting for:
 
 
 

Feast your eyes~~~

 
After the procession had reached the end of the street, the stage was set up for some short performances. First was a short comedic skit by the street performers at the head of the procession!
 
 
After that was a mock setup of how an Oiran would present herself to her patron. It was quite the mini procession and all very slow and dignified.
 

The gentleman seated on the cushion was the pretend patron

 

Displaying her magnificent outfit for her patron's appreciation


Preparing a pipe for her patron

After the pipe preparation, which was really quite sexy...you have to see it to know why, all the attendants gathered onstage for a photo op~
 
  
And that's a wrap! The procession lined up again and slowly made their way back to the other end of the street...with the Oiran walking in a signature style, side-dragging the heel of her getta with each step. That's hard work even if you were in flats!
 
 
 
I was really happy to have been able to catch the procession, to see something in the flesh after only being able to see it in pictures is really great. Hopefully I'll be able to catch it again in the coming years~ =)
 
Phew! That was alot of photos! Hope you enjoyed this post~ Look forward to the next ones ok! ^_^