Fuerza Bruta: an unbelievable and jaw-dropping performance

A mind blowing performance that will leave you in awe
A mind blowing performance that will leave you in awe

Having performed in over 60 cities in 30 countries, FUERZA BRUTA is in town to debut their new show “WA!-Wonder Japan Experience.” Don’t miss the chance to take part in this one and only experience-type entertainment at Tokyo Shinagawa Prince Hotel Stellar Ball from August 1 to December 10.

High wire flying dancers opens the show
High wire flying dancers opens the show
High technology is infused in the stunning performance
High technology is infused in the stunning performance
Dancers interacting with the audience as they perform in a mid-air pool
Dancers interacting with the audience as they perform in a mid-air pool
Dancers get together for taiko drumming
Dancers get together for taiko drumming

Breaking the boundary between performers and the audience, the Argentina-based Fuerza Bruta brings you a show that far exceeds your expectation of a live concert, play and musical. Fuerza Bruta has infused the essence of Japanese culture into their latest work by using 360-degree space as a stage and combining modern music, Japanese taiko drum with captivating light effects. Dancers jump out from every corner of the venue as the portable stage moves to engage the audience, closing the distance between the two. The performance, totally beyond imagination, will have you on the edge of your chair!

Dancers dance away in the transparent tube emerging from the sky
Dancers dance away in the transparent tube emerging from the sky

The portable stage allows close interaction between performers and the audience on the first floor
The portable stage allows close interaction between performers and the audience on the first floor

Pudding, WAttention Ninja

Ladies, be prepared to have your hair messed up by blowing winds and drenching rain. Four to five dancers opened the show by flying in the sky, moving back and forth, making us feel as if we were the ones hanging in mid-air. After that, a Japanese samurai took the stage. The audience was roaring for him as he cleared away all the enemies and obstacles on the way! Another impressive show involves a big piece of cloth that came out from two sides of the stage, covering the audience. As we focus on the projection on the cloth, dancers started flying up and down. Everything happened in a blink of an eye, catching everyone off guard! This is what FUERZA BRUTA is all about—a visual, sensual and unexpected fantasia.

Not only is the performance worth the while, the venue, designed with surprising features, is a must-see!

Torii gate projected at the entrance, extending a welcoming invitation to guests (Photo Credit: Panasonic)
Torii gate projected at the entrance, extending a welcoming invitation to guests (Photo Credit: Panasonic)
Exquisite 3D projection mapping on rugged walls
Exquisite 3D projection mapping on rugged walls

The projection at the entrance is as impressive as it sounds. Imaging technology from Panasonic is widely used in this ultimate performance. Aside from nine projectors at different corners of the venue, the entrance is decorated with a gigantic entrance door made by 34 LED panels and a floor made out of 125 LED screens. The digital imaging space, as colorful and real as it gets, is transformed into a torii gate and waterfall in a second.

The main hall has six laser projectors and 13 55 inch liquid crystal screens. Short focus projection technology makes 3D projection mapping all the more real on rugged walls. One becomes more and more expected just by looking at the projected images from the entrance extending all the way to the main hall.

Pictures are taken by hidden cameras and then displayed on a screen next to the locker area using AR effect
Pictures are taken by hidden cameras and then displayed on a screen next to the locker area using AR effect

The standing seat on the first floor moves from time to time so you might want to put larger luggage in the locker for convenience sake.
The standing seat on the first floor moves from time to time so you might want to put larger luggage in the locker for convenience sake.

WAttention editor’s review

In the main hall, there are also hidden cameras that take pictures of guests. AR effect is then added to make faces of Japanese Kabuki Theater or comic characters. Find a Kabuki version of yourself on the screen next to the locker area. Pictures and filming are allowed during the performance so you can share all the fun with friends on social media.

Panasonic presents WA!-Wonder Japan Experience

Time: From August 1st, 2017 to December 10th, 2017
Venue: Stellar Ball, Shinagawa Prince Hotel
Ticket: (presale) First floor standing seat 7,600 Yen / Second floor reserved seat 10,800 Yen / Second floor VIP seat (campaign, program list and original goods included) 15,000 Yen
(ticket at the door) First floor standing seat 8,700 Yen / Second floor reserved seat 12,000 Yen
* Prices are tax inclusive
* Second floor reserved seat and VIP seat ticket holders can go to the first floor as they wish after the opening show
Official website: http://fbw.jp/en/
eplus: Eplus tickets

The owl statues of Ikebukuro

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Over 2.5 million people pass through Ikebukuro Station daily, making it the second busiest station in Tokyo after Shinjuku Station. While Ikebukuro is an important transportation hub, many people stop by simply to enjoy the shopping or anime (cartoon) subculture, which even rivals Akihabara, the famous pop-culture district in Tokyo. For this issue, we decided to explore the area for ourselves and see what it had to offer. Walking through the streets, we found Ikebukuro’s unique combination of elements: a strong-knit modern community blended with a rich historical, art and cultural scene. Join us as we unlock the undiscovered treasures of Ikebukuro!

The owls of Ikebukuro ikefukuro いけふくろ

Thought to bring good luck, the owl has been a community symbol in Ikebukuro since just after WWII, hence the countless sightings of owl-themed items throughout the streets. Start your Ikebukuro owl tour at Ikefukuro! Located in the basement of JR Ikebukuro Station, this owl statue (erected in 1987) has become a famous meet-up spot. The name is a play on words: “Ikebukuro” combined with fukuro (owl in Japanese). The best way to find Ikefukuro is by exiting JR’s Central Gate 2 and turning right.

Mitake Shrine 御嶽神社

mitake shrine in ikebukuro owls

Nested in a quiet, residential neighborhood, this shrine will provide an authentic experience of religion and community in Japan. If you go early, you can see residents stopping by before starting their day to say a prayer. In the spirit of Ikebukuro’s community are two statues of owl families and omamori (good luck charms) in the shape of or designed with owls.

owls statue in ikebukuro

mitake shrine red torii owl ikebukuro

In the spirit of Ikebukuro’s community are two statues of owl families and omamori (good luck charms) in the shape of or designed with owls.

omamori charms ikebukuro owls mitaka shrine
owl charm ikebukuro
Hours: Open 24/7 year-round
Address: 3-51-2 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku

Miharado 三原堂

In business since 1937, this traditional Japanese confectionary shop features a café for customers to relax and savor their top-notch offerings, all made with Japan’s f inest ingredients. Don’t miss the owl-shaped monaka (wafer sandwich with red bean filling), which was created to appeal to a younger generation who tended to see traditional confectionary as being only for older people.
Owl-shaped confection
Owl-shaped confection
Hours: 11am – 9pm
Address: 1F 1-6-1 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku
URL:Visit the Hotel Metropolitan’s website here.

Ikefukuro café いけふくろうカフェ

foreigner visitor tourist owl cafe ikebukuro
cute owls in ikebukuro owl cafe tokyo

For animal lovers, this up-close interaction with owls is an hour of heaven! With over 30 birds out of their cages at a time, you will meet owls you have never laid eyes on before. Take advantage of the knowledgeable and Englishfriendly staff to learn more about these majestic birds of prey. Your heart is bound to melt as you pet the necks of these fascinating, friendly creatures!

Hours: 1pm – 7pm (weekdays), 12pm – 6pm (weekends)
*To ensure a spot, make reservation by phone or email.
Admission: 1,500 yen (weekdays), 1,600 yen (weekends)
*Includes a bottle of water
Address: Sakimoto Bldg. 6F, 1-17-1 Minamiikebukuro, Toshima-ku
URL:Visit Ikefukuro Cafe’s website here.

Japanese Tea Ceremony: History & Philosophy

 

To gain an overall grasp of Japanese culture, why not try “tea ceremony?”

The tea house or tea room is a miniature museum of wa—all things Japanese. Tea ceremony includes various highlights that symbolize Japan, like the simple tea house made of bamboo, wood, and washi paper, and food dishes to match called kaiseki. Each item is an expression of the essence of traditional Japanese life.

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What is the culture of tea ceremony?

Tea is said to have been brought to Japan from China during the Nara period.

It was gradually accepted after the Zen master Eisai wrote the book “Kissai Yojo-ki”, or “tea drinking cure”, during the Kamakura era, stressing the effectiveness of tea as medicine. The act of drinking tea became a special experience during the Muromachi period, during which time equipment was introduced and the “shoin” was developed, which evolved as the tea houses that we see today. Tatemae procedures for tea ceremony were established, with deep ties to the philosophy of zen, and it was during the Azuchi-Momoyama era in the 1500s that Sen no Rikyu refined the philosophy and perfected “wabi-cha”, an extremely austere and Japanese style, to an art form.

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What sort of person was Sen no Rikyu?

Rikyu was a tea master, a professional who served two generals, Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi during a time when tea ceremony had been popular among warriors as a symbol of refined culture.

A tea master needs to be able to properly determine the utensils for tea ceremony. With his discerning eye, Rikyu not only stood out among the tea masters, he also had the ability to create new forms of beauty.

Rikyu surprised those around him by introducing innovative ideas for tea ceremony such as the koma, or dark, tiny tea rooms where the ceilings were too low to stand upright, and the use of jet black rakuchawan tea bowls he had made by Japanese craftsmen to use in the place of Chinese imports, which generated a sense of austerity that was similar to a religious aestheticism of sorts, which eventually spread as wabi-cha”.

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What is wabi-sabi?

Wabi-sabi refers to a quiet, serene world, or a subdued state. In its root form, the meaning of the word wabi includes “the pain of not having things proceed as desired”, and sabi means “the state of the power of life deteriorating”, both expressions of negative conditions. Inversely, it is possible to see a uniquely Japanese sense of beauty and culture from the use of these terms that began after the Edo period as “positive terms for expressing the beauty of Japan”.

Ichigo-ichie: One opportunity, one encounter, meaning that every encounter should be cherished as it may never happen again.

Ichigo-ichie: is a term that was mentioned by Yamanoue Soji, an apprentice of Rikyu, and Ii Naosuke, a high-ranking government official of the Edo period, and today remains a symbol of the spirit of tea ceremony: “This tea ceremony, held on this day of this year, is an irreplaceable moment that will never again be repeated. Tea ceremony can only be a success when the minds of both the person serving and those being served come together as one”. This is an eternal truth that applies not only to tea ceremony but other situations as well, whenever we may experience an encounter in our lives.

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Kappabashi: Home of Japanese Knives

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Just a short walk away from Asakusa, Kappabashi is a great place to spend an afternoon among a joyful chaos of stores specializing in all sorts of kitchenware, and a must-visit destination for visitors looking to pick up world-class Japanese knives.

Over 100 Years of History

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Kappabashi Dogu-gai (Kappabashi Kitchenware Street) has been a center of commerce related to tools for over a century, and is one of the best places in Tokyo to find cool (not to mention useful) souvenirs. The two main streets are stocked to the brim with everything from super-realistic food samples to ramen shop signs, pots big enough to make curry for 100 people, dainty sake cups, chopsticks in every color of the rainbow… and knives.

Kamata Hakensha: Knives Galore

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Located around the middle of Kappabashi, this little shop is heaven for both amateur and professional cooks, as it stocks a huge range of Japanese and Western-style knives, each individually checked (and sharpened!) by the owner. The staff speak decent English and are really good at helping you find the right knife for your needs and ability.

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From the window you can watch Seiichi Kamata (the owner and third-generation craftsman) engraving names on the knives (a rather cool touch, especially if the blade is a gift) or restoring the razor-sharp edges of the implements used by top chefs around the city.

With almost four decades of experience, his fingers can detect the slightest imperfection in the metal, invisible to the naked eye. During a recent visit, he spoke of the intense training his son (the fourth generation) underwent under both his tutelage and that of the master knife makers in Sakai City, Osaka, in order to ensure that he too will gain this level of craftsmanship.

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As many of the knives are completely handmade, they’re priced accordingly. However, the shoo does have a nice range of light but sturdy stainless steel kitchen knives that are very reasonable, as well as other unusual choices (my favorite being a pair of scissors with a cherry blossom motif).

Be sure to check out the Japanese-style knives decorated with flowers, leaves and dreamy wave patterns, which look almost too pretty to use!

www.kap-kam.com


Read the original article on All About Japan: Kappabashi: Home of Japanese Knives

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3 Historic Fan Shops in Kyoto

Kyoto’s rich history even extends to its many shops and these shinise, or historic shops, are some of the Kyoto’s oldest. In fact, these three fan shops are among Japan’s most historic, with some dating as far back as the 17th century!

3. Aiba

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Aiba has been continuously selling traditional Japanese fans since 1689. Although they specialize in more traditional styles, the shop continues to be innovative. One of the more modern styles they’ve created is a transparent fan that gives the suggestion of delivering cool air while remaining quite stylish. These round fans were historically used within the Imperial Court during the Edo Period. They’re artfully crafted, featuring natural scenery, people or poetry, cast in block print, dye or raised cloth.

Aiba is situated in downtown Kyoto between Sanjo-dori and Shijo-dori on quiet Yanagi no Bamba Street.

www.kyoto-kankou.or.jp

2. Miyawaki Baisenan

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Established in 1823, Miyawaki Baisenan specializing in the iconic Japanese folding fan. You can shop to your heart’s content on the first floor, but don’t miss the second floor, which features an exhibit on the history of Japanese fans. Baisenan sells fans for every occasion, from the purely utilitarian fans that start at ¥743 (US$7), to the more indulgent sandalwood fans that can go for as much as ¥43,532 (US$410). Even if you’re not there to make a purchases, Miyawaki Baisenan offers a fascinating look at the history of fans, and the many varieties that exist from region to region.

Miyawaki Baisenan is situated north of Shijo-dori, on Rokkaku-dori.

www.nytimes.com

1. Sakata Bunsuke Shoten

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This shop had its start in 1808, specializing in folding fans. The fans at Sakata are strictly for decor, ceremonies, or entertainment, so you won’t be pulling one of these works of art out of your pocket when you’re roasting on a crowded train. Sakata Bunsuke Shoten exhibited at The International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925, meaning these well-made fans have been held in international high-regard for nearly 100 years. Sakata keeps things interesting, releasing a new design each year in a continued effort to blend modern design with Japanese tradition.

Sakata Bunsuke Shoten is located at the corner of Gojo and Yanagi no Bamba street.

eng.trip.kyoto.jp


Read the original article on All About Japan: 3 Historic Fan Shops in Kyoto

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Sanrio Puroland

I guess there are just a few people left who haven´t heard about the white fluffy cat with its big round eyes which enchants her fans since 1974!
In  the western part of Tokyo you can find an indoor theme park dedicated to Hello Kitty and her friends. Opened in 1990, Sanrio Puroland attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year.
If you want to treat your kids to a magical experience, or if you are curious about Japan´s popular characters itself, don´t hold back and immerse yourself into a whole new world full of cute adventures.

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The entrance is a huge hall decorated with lovely artwork featuring the main characters of Sanrio Puroland.

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After entering the park you will be welcomed by one of the many characters which whom you can take a memorial picture with. Further, at the merchandise and souvenir booth located near the entrance, you can transform yourself into one of your beloved characters while purchasing its characters hairband with attached ears.

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Now you will take the escalator and reach Hello Kitty´s magical world.
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Beside having the chance to take a sneak peek inside Hello Kitty´s and Little Twin Stars house, you can also make a trip through Mariland with My Melody´s newest ride attraction.

While Cinnamoroll invites you to an exciting boat ride through the world of Sanrio Characters….

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….Hello Kitty takes you to see her fantastic musical at the “Märchen Theater”.

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It´s a magical place not only for families and children, also couples and friends can enjoy a pleasant day at Santrio Puroland.

Sanrio Puroland Info:
Hours: The opening hours and closing days differ from month to month, please check the website in advance.
Address: 1-32 Ochiai, Tama, Tokyo 〒206-8588
Access: 5min-walk from Tama Center Station, Keio Line
Keio Line: Central Exit / Odakyu Line: West Exit
Tel: 042-339-1111
URL: http://en.puroland.jp/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Modern kimono styling

The kimono is a timeless garment that can be passed down from generation to generation. While there are many different types of kimono styles have changed over the years. The traditional During the early 20th century the kimono got funkier patterns and became more modern. Nowadays mainstream fashion takes inspiration from kimono and even Harajuku fashion uses some traditional Japanese spirit.

Combine kimono with boots instead of sandals
Combine kimono with boots instead of sandals

What’s happened for sure is that kimono styling became more free. People aren’t afraid to wear patterns that are out of season and will mix and match their traditional style with modern accessories. Wattention reports some of the creative ways kimono lovers have made the traditional garment their own.

Artists always say “you have to know the rules of anatomy before you can break them”. The same can be said for kimono. Once you know what parts make a kimono you can replace them with parts of your own.

 

Be Cute

Obi have received an upgrade and come in different styles, such as this adorable cat obi. On her obijime (obi belt) she attached a brooch accompanied by a cute Nyanko Sensei strap, a character from the manga “Natsume’s book of friends”. Her zori are quite traditional but the Miffy tabi socks make them modern for a stylish cute look.

Miffy

Be Creative

Just like with any outfit, you can mix and match freely with the kimono. “Objime are so expensive” this girl said, “so I replaced it with a cute ribbon I found.” Another creative example is the use of a simple lace scarf to add just that bit of artistic flair to your kimono. One thing’s for sure, creativity stands out. And in the world of kimono, everything is possible!

Creative

Be Cool

This men’s yukata has a unique look with Nekomata (demon cat) embroidery. On the front the Nekomata is doing its signature dance and is relaxing with a pipe on the back. It’s difficult to find unique yukata like this so many people have them custom embroidered. If you’re good with a needle you could try embroidery yourself or attach some cool patches. The kimono is your canvas.

Nekomata

Be Fun

Because we were near the area of Ueno Zoo, famous for its giant panda, this girl said she decided to wear her panda obi. Matching the kimono to an event or location you’re going to can be interpreted as part of the “seasonal” rule, where you have to match your colours to the seasons. The inside of the obi is a popular place to store your cellphone, so she made sure her cellphone strap was visible to complement the obi.

Panda

Have Fun

Your kimono can say anything you want it to say and can be worn whenever you want. Don’t be afraid to have fun with it!

Bracer by yoroikatchu.com
Bracer by yoroikatchu.com

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Tokyo Edo Week : Wattention reports

 

Last week Tokyo organized a new event called the Tokyo Edo Week to promote traditional Japanese dress. There were definitely more people out in kimono than usual and Wattention was there to catch them all on photo.

The stands were laid out like a traditional festival with places to sit in the middle. There were kimono shops, kimono photo studios (even a samurai one) and accessory shops. The highlight of the event was the main stage where performers showed tricks and kimono makers showed their latest creations.

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The workshops were given in both English and Japanese, making it easy for foreigners to participate. With easy to understand instructions everyone was able to create a beautiful souvenir to take home. The ladies here are using traditional materials to make beautiful hairpins.

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sake2Guests in kimono received one of these traditional sake cups made from cypress wood. The smell of the wood was amazing and it makes for a beautiful souvenir. You could use the cup to try some of the vintage sake brought all the way from Nara. This sake is brewed with a traditional recipe, ensuring that you could drink the same sake as they did during the Edo period.

After having drunk sake from the cypress wooden cup, the smell became even stronger and sweeter.

Sake

On the main stage there was a kimono show, the miss Tokyo Edo beauty peageant and a sword demonstration. All three events were very entertaining to watch. It was very interesting to see furisode (long sleeve kimono) in one single color.

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The sword show was a mix between modern dance and acted fights. It all seemed very serious at first but at the end everyone broke down in a synchronized dance. The actors looked like they were having a lot of fun on stage.

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Our last stop before it became completely dark was the Kabuki experience stand. There were various masks on display showcasing all the different types of makeup a Kabuki actor can use. The choice depends on the type of role and character.

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The Tokyo Edo Week was a great event to revive traditional Japanese culture. I was happy to see many happy foreigners at the event who enjoyed the food, workshops and shows. Here’s to hoping they organize a second edition next year.

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Tokyo Edo Week

 

The kimono is making a comeback with a modern twist and both young and old are wearing it more than ever. Tokyo wants to encourage you to try this timeless garment by organizing the Tokyo Edo Week during September 22nd~25th at Ueno Park.

Edo currency-Image edited from: edoweek.com
Edo currency-Image edited from: edoweek.com

The goal of this event is to show Japanese culture to the world in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The whole venue will be modeled after a street from the Edo period (1603-1868) and you can even pay in traditional Edo currency. If you don`t have a kimono to show off , you can rent one at the event. Everyone who comes dressed in kimono will get a free limited gift at almost every stand. If you bought a kimono or yukata but don’t know how to put it on, use this tutorial made by Tokyo Edo Week.

Tokyo Edo Week is the world`s biggest festival that celebrates traditional Japanese culture. Here are some of the festival`s highlights!

Edo week
Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Go Kimono Shopping

Various kimono designers from all over Japan will be displaying their latest creations as well as recycle shops with unique vintage kimono. If you would like to know more about kitsuke (着付け), the art of kimono dressing, you can see a demonstration by one of the attending kimono schools.

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Kimono Exhibition

If you`re not into trying a kimono yourself, you can visit one of the antique kimono exhibitions or the unique Kabuki exhibition. This interactive ICT event will be open for free to the public for the first time.

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Amazing Crafts

Now that you’ve completely immersed yourself in the world of kimono, it’s time to admire some traditional crafts. The Edo period was an amazing time for craftsmen as they enjoyed a relative nationwide peace at the start and were influenced by foreign crafts at the end. The result of years of perfection can be seen in crafts such as glassware, hairpins, kokeshi dolls, traditional dyeing techniques and more. Why not take home a piece of Edo?

Crafts
Image Courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Meet Miss Sake Tokyo

The Tokyo Edo Week includes a special appearance by none other than the real Miss Sake. Ando Yumi proved she can be  Japan’s sake ambassador with both brains and beauty. Who knows, this might be the only time in your life that you get to meet a real Miss.

See Japanese Sword Arts and Plays

To top it all off, there are many amazing performers coming from all over Japan to show their talents. For those who like excitement there are samurai sword performances, a ninja show and even a DJ. If you like to have a more relaxed atmosphere, attend one of the traditional plays or comedy shows.

 

Enjoy Edo-style food with top class entertainment

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

The food stands are well equipped to give every visitor a taste of historical Japan. Try some Edo classics and Western-inspired food while listening to a shamisen, classic Japanese three-stringed instrument, performance.

Not only food, but also sake is available at the Tokyo Edo Week. Micro breweries and local sake brewers worked hard to bring you the best they have to offer.


 

It would take a while to sum up all of the amazing activities the Tokyo Edo Week has to offer, but we hope these highlights convinced you to visit. Check out the Edo Week website for more information.

Event Information
Date: Sep 22 – 25, 2016
Hours: 11am – 8pm (22nd to 24th, last entry 7:30pm), 11am – 6pm (25th, last entry 5pm)
Where: Ueno Park Takenodai Square
Admission: Free (but you need to buy tickets for the food stands and the kimono exhibition).
URL: https://edoweek.com

The life of a Harajuku Shop Girl – Choom

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I’ve been an obsessive follower of Japanese street fashion for many years now so when I was given the opportunity to work at 6%DokiDoki, one of the most established brands in Harajuku and adored by fans worldwide, I jumped at the opportunity.

I am currently studying Japanese at university and an integral part of that is the year abroad in Japan. I chose to go to Tokyo because for me, it’s the only choice if you want to be a part of the fashion scene. The opportunity came about suddenly and quite randomly, first I was chosen to be a part of their show at the Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival then all of a sudden I was asked to be a Shop Girl. I was so thrilled!

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After a shaky start I quickly fell into step with my co-workers. Not only was this my first real job (I know, I know) but speaking the language was definitely tricky at first. After a few shifts and a lot of patience on behalf of my co-workers (thank you!!) I could communicate so easily with them and customers.
So a typical day at work would start not on the day of my shift, but actually the day before. I would message my manager and we would discuss what I would wear so then I could plan my accessories, foot wear and make up. The next day I would arrive about 30 minutes prior to when my shift would start. I was lucky to have lived about 15 minutes from Harajuku by train so the commute was never too bad. The only issue I would ever encounter would be tourists staring and shoving cameras in my face, so if you’re ever in Harajuku don’t be that person! You might be met with a very irritated shop staff! Once I arrived, I would finish my make up and put any final touches on my outfit.

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We have a schedule of things to do during our shift aside from helping customers and it always starts with taking pictures to post on social media and writing a bit about what we were doing and wearing. I didn’t know what I should say most of the time so I usually wrote about the weather, how very British of me! Other tasks on our schedule were cleaning the shop and restocking items that had been sold, so normal things any shop staff does. The only difference would be I’d be teetering over in my sky high platforms while sweeping up. I think a lot of people found it amusing for us to be cleaning up in over the top outfits and often took pictures of us outside the shop. I’m so worried somewhere on the internet someone has captioned a photo of me as ‘pink platform wearing cleaning lady in Harajuku.’

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Our customers were people of all ages, backgrounds and interests. I talked to both Japanese and non-Japanese customers and they all loved the bold, over the top cuteness of 6%DokiDoki. You could always tell when a new customer came in because they always exclaimed, ‘this is crazy’ or ‘this is amazing’ as soon as they walked through the door. There were always those that said they ‘could never wear something like that’ and asked me if I wore this kind of clothing every day. Sometimes I managed to coerce them into trying out some clothes and accessories by explaining how it could work with a simple, not very alternative outfit. I think it’s nice adding a little kawaii into people’s everyday lives!

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Obviously being a ShopGirl had its perks! Aside from the usual things like assisting customers we sometimes had photoshoots for both TV and magazines in the shop. Since 6%DokiDoki is so famous for its consistently outlandish and typically ‘Harajuku style’ it was a hotspot of interest to others. The shop also had diehard fans who loved everything about the fashion and the staff! It would be so lovely to turn up for work to find someone had left a gift for the staff. It really helped me to understand how much people appreciate the effort we went through to maintain the shop’s ‘sensational lovely’ image and the looks we created to promote the brand. I remember one day in particular when a customer came to the shop wearing a look I had done in my previous shift and I was so overwhelmed! Not only are we shop staff but people saw us as fashion inspiration too which is so cool!

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The experience I had as a Shop Girl was one to remember. My time both in and out of the shop was so fun and it made my year abroad memorable!

Meisen – The Funky Kimono

The “Meisen” style silk kimono was the most popular garment during the 1920’s and 1930’s when people still wore kimono daily. It is very different from all the other kimonos which always had a “classy” feel to them. Meisen kimonos were worn as every day wear at home and to do daily tasks. The main characteristic of Meisen is its pattern, made by pre-dyed threads. As the fabric is woven the surface decoration appears as a shimmering, soft-edged pattern. Because of the events such as World War I and the Kanto earthquake of 1923 the price of silk fell heavily and the production and popularity of meisen kimono was at its height. Meisen kimono were affordable, durable, smart attire for everyday wear. Their crazy patterns are very similar to current modern art paintings.

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Chichibu Meisen

In Chichibu city, Saitama prefecture, there is a special type of Meisen weaving called Chichibu Meisen. This technique involves first weaving the main color and then loosening the fabric to weave the pattern on top. They even have a museum dedicated to the craft where you can try your hands at this special weaving technique (http://www.meisenkan.com/). Because the fabric has same patterns and same looks on both sides, it can be turned inside out when one side becomes dirty.

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Wattention staff had the chance to try on real Meisen haori (kimono jacket) from the collection of Kimura Kazue, a cheery lady living in Chichibu city. Parts of her collection have been on display around the world and she has appeared in some kimono magazines. If you want to learn more about kimono and all the rules involved, Wattention has a handy five-part starter’s guide to kimono.

Access to Chichibu Station from Tokyo

80 minutes from Ikebukuro station with the Limited Express train to Chichibu station.

 

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA