The tattooed guy, the sunny afternoon light, the colors of the traffic… everything looked perfect so I just couldn’t stroll by without snapping a picture (or two). Seen at a walk through Meguro, at a crossing close to the JR station.
With about 12,000 participants in about 180 dance groups and over a million of visitors, the Kōenji awa odori (高円寺阿波おどり) is one of the biggest summer festivals of Tokyo. On one weekend in August the dance groups parade around the area of the Kōenji JR station (of the Chūō line), performing the traditional fool’s dance before huge crowds of onlookers.
Unfortunately, unlike before this year the awa odori was not in the evening but in the afternoon, spoiling the chance for some low-light street photography. Still it was nice to watch the dancers and musicians in their traditional costumes chant and sing as they paraded through the streets.
Like last summer, I went to the the manga and anime fair Comiket (コミケット) on Odaiba. Again I wanted to take pictures of the many cosplay girls and guys who gather at the Tokyo Big Sight venue. I also went to the となりでコスプレ博 (tonari de kosupure-haku — Cosplay in the Neighborhood exhibition) event in the TFT halls which, unlike the Comiket, costs money to enter. But due to the fact that the Comiket is attended by about 500,000 visitors and many thousands of cosplayers, photography at there is much more harder with all the other people taking pictures in the rather small areas where photography is allowed.
After grabbing a few shots indoors at the Comiket I went outside to the dedicated cosplay areas, where it was really crowded, hot and not that well suited for getting nice images. So I moved to the nearby Tokyo Fashion Town building and the Tonari de Cosplay expo.
As you can see, cosplays of Vocaloid characters were extremely popular this year!
Again I visited the “Machine Magic” (機械魔術) concert series at Urga in Shinjuku. As Nekoi-san from Psydoll is one of the organizers, I was happy to help my friend by taking pictures at this event. The other bands invited were The Royal Dead and PsychoDream.
The first performer of the evening was the duo The Royal Dead. Originally called Phantasmagoria, they are one of the longest-lived Japanese dark electro/goth bands of Tokyo/Saitama and are currently recording their new album.
Although Halloween is still two weeks away, Tokyo is gearing up for its Japanese take on this foreign holiday. Many shops, restaurants and public spaces are already decorated with the usual Halloween accessories based on US influences. Stripped of all its pseudo-Celtic and pagan traditions, Halloween is pretty much an excuse for fancy dress parties with a goth/horror theme.
On this Saturday there was one of these nightclub events. Called “bunny. × Tokyo cherry × Dead or Alive presents SPECIAL HALLOWEEN PARTY – CIRCUS OF TERROR” Tokyo’s fashion party scene gathered in the multi-story Trump Room in Shibuya to celebrate and check out each others’ dresses and cosplays. Popular DJs like 2BOY, MA5AKAZ, Death Is Not My Aim, smoooch!, Cherry Boys, DaF, RS, Da Monde, lilith (of Kawaii Tokyo), Dusty John Thomas, Make the Chaos Party, Lie…, Shilas and MA-C were performing in a pretty much sold out club, so taking photos in this crowded environment turned out to be harder than expected!
This Saturday I made a short trip to Harajuku to shoot some street portraits in front of the Takuya Angel store. Unfortunately, no Angelers (fans wearing the TA brand) did show up, so I just took a couple of pictures of the fashion designer Takuya Sawada and his wife Akiko Angel.
My third visit to a Gothic Bar Heaven event at Club Crawl this year. Like many other Artism.jp parties it was a small-scale “live house” event with several bands presenting their music and DJs performing between the shows. Again, I had been invited by my friend Nekoi from Psydoll who were scheduled to play. Other bands of the evening included Ethereal Sin, Zwecklos and Mr. Chaos.
After having missed the belly dancers, the first band I saw was a solo artist called Mr. Chaos. For someone named Mr. Chaos he gave a very tame performance…
The awa odori matsuri are very popular dance festivals in summertime Japan. These events are connected to the yearly obon festivities, so they a pretty much a family get-together with fun and games for the whole family. Large groups of costumed dancers march through the crowded streets dancing a deliberately silly dance, chanting songs and playing Japanese music instruments like shinobue or portable taiko drums.
The largest awa odori in Tokyo is in Kōenji in Suginami-ku, but many other neighborhoods have their own festival, because it is a popular summer pasttime and so much fun for everyone (and it’s good for business). So this weekend was a local awa odori in Shimo-Kitazawa of Setagaya-ku ward. Compared to the one in Kōenji it was a much smaller event with less dancers and less spectators. Then again, the area is also much smaller and has very narrow alleys so it was still pretty crowded. About one dozen different dance groups performed at various spots around the train station and gave me the opportunity for some low light photography.
Following my recent string of goth events I attended the first day of the special Artism Festa Summer 2010 happening at Live Inn Rosa in Ikebukuro. As many Artism events it went from the afternoon to the evening, which means I didn’t have to worry about missing my last train. I was especially looking forward to the performance by the Japanese theater group 虚飾集団廻天百眼 (Kyoshoku Shūdan Kaiten Hyaku-me). Other performers were Mu☆Mu, Caramelman, 装置メガネ (Sōchi Megane), マイナス人生オーケストラ (Mainus Jinsei Ōkesutora), Zwecklos, Rose Noire and a second show group called MONT★SUCHT.
One of Tokyo’s summer highlights is the manga and anime fair Comiket (コミケット) at Tokyo Big Sight on Odaiba. Also known as Comic Market, it is the world’s largest fair for self-published comic books (dōjinshi) with approximately 35,000 sellers and more than 500,000 attendees over the course of three days. True to its DIY roots the entrance is free, so if you can make the trip with the Yurikamome or Rinkai lines you should visit this biannual event.
Inside the large convention halls photography is forbidden, and there are only rows upon rows of tables where small publishing circles present and sell their comic books, artwork, music, accessories and other manga-related items (all surprisingly cheap). But outside there are two areas where thousands of cosplayers gather and photography is encouraged. As expected, these cosplay areas were rather crowded and you often have to “fight” with dozens of Japanese cameko (“camera boys”) to get the persons pose for you.