Back when I used to live in Waseda, one of my favourite places to hang out was the quaint neighbourhood of Kagurazaka (神楽坂) which provides a snapshot of old Tokyo with its many narrow alleyways and traditional restaurants. Over the summer I paid a return visit one evening to enjoy the annual Awa Odori (阿波踊り) festival which is held along the main Waseda Dori shopping street. Read more
Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of thing unconventional.
While sitting beneath the cherry blossoms at a typical Hanami (“flower viewing”) party in Japan it’s easy to forget that behind the alcohol-fueled revelry you’re actually taking place in a very particular form of appreciation centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.
Aesthetic ideals are central to Japan’s cultural identity and the Japanese language has all sorts of fancy words for describing our feelings towards how we perceive the world but underlying them all is the notion of wabi-sabi (侘寂). Read more
A little less than a year ago I moved to the sleepy neighbourhood of Toritsu-daigaku (都立大学) in south-west Tokyo (15 mins from Shibuya). An old ryokudo (緑道) “green road” lined with cherry blossom trees runs through the centre of the area and at the end of April, almost overnight, it sprang into full bloom. Read more
Last weekend I was lucky enough to catch the final day of the most exciting exhibition I’ve seen in a long while. Titled BCTION, over 70 young artists came together to fill nine floors of an old office building in Kojimachi (麹町), scheduled for demolition, with a dizzying array of art installations. Read more
A week after attending the energetic Awa Odori dance festival in Shimokitazawa I was lucky enough to see it’s neighbour’s equivalent rendition in nearby Koenji (高円寺). While the clothes, dances and music were almost identical, Koenji’s is on a grander scale with over 10 thousand dancers from 200 groups performing for around 1 million people over 2 days.
One of the main things I’ve come to love about living in Tokyo is the plethora of traditional festivals which take place in the streets of local neighbourhood throughout the year. The summer months are particularly active and back in August during the Obon festival (お盆) I attended the wonderful Awa Odori (阿波踊り) dance festival held in Shimokitazawa (下北沢). Read more