The ghost of Prada past?

Tokyo continually throws up contrasts, and this one clearly highlights the city’s mix of the old and new, traditional and modern. What isn’t quite so clear, however, is whether it’s the ghost of Prada past, present or future.

Prada and Japanese fashion

Himiko: Tokyo’s futuristic ferry

Much is made of Japan’s technological prowess and high-tech cities, but beneath a wafer thin veneer of modernity, Tokyo is generally very traditional — often even antiquated. An aspect that quickly becomes apparent when one drifts even slightly away from busier districts.

But the capital does of course have its moments, and a world away from Tokyo’s only man-powered ferry boat, is Himiko. A vessel that while certainly modern, also seems that way in a 1960s science fiction sense of the word. Arguably like some of the city it can be seen in.

Himiko, Tokyo’s futuristic ferry boat

Face to face with the Japanese

Crowds are an ever-present factor of life in Japan. Heaving masses of humanity that Monday to Friday hustle and bustle people to work and back.

Not that the weekends are much better. Particularly so when there’s an event or festival on. The sheer number of people.

Japanese faces

All vying for a photo.

Japanese faces

As well as a better view.

Japanese faces

Make for a state of semi-organised chaos.

Japanese faces

Which some calmly deal with.

Japanese faces

Whereas others clearly don’t.

Japanese faces

A Japanese nationalist declaring Chinese and Koreans should leave

Japan and China’s ongoing dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands has strained relations between the two nations enormously, although potentially just as damaging to Japan is the political shift to the right it might cause — particularly so as the country and its politicians are generally very conservative to begin with. The hawkish Shinzo Abe is back fronting the Liberal Democratic Party, and along with the capital’s unrepentantly racist governor, Shintaro Ishihara, they are wilfully goading their neighbours. The former once again visited Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine, and the latter, not content with starting the whole island controversy in the first place, is now attempting to make matters worse by proposing building on the rocky outposts.

Such fears of a rightward shift aren’t exactly dispelled by the individual below either. A man who, along with his Rising Sun flag, was carrying a sign that in no uncertain terms said Chinese and Koreans should get out of Japan.

Yet at the same time there is hope — at least in regards the Japanese public, if not their politicians — as he was very much alone, and reassuringly the only responses he got were confused or openly critical stares.

Japanese nationalist protesting about Chinese and Koreans

A traditional and timeless Japanese Shinto wedding

Even taking fashion out of the equation, it’s no wonder Christian-style weddings are becoming the norm in Japan, as for the bride at least, it means there’s no need to suffer the uncomfortable kimono and heavy wig of a traditional Shinto ceremony. But as a spectacle — to these foreign eyes at least — the latter really is something else. A wonderful melding of the past and present. And one that while somewhat somber, also appears incredibly serene.

traditional shinto wedding