A cliched scene for sure. Arguably almost too traditionally Japanese to be true as well. But at the same time it is, without a doubt, really quite beautiful.
People pouring buckets of ice water over themselves for charity may well be a thing at the moment, but at the Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri in Tokyo, they have been doing something very similar for much, much longer. A simple bit of festival fun that many look forward to. Even getting all dressed up just to get a good soaking.
And as such, it’s enjoyed by people of all ages, although sulking little lads are sometimes an exception.
Despite all the coverage that Japanese trends and technology get, the country is just as traditional as it is modern — maybe even more so. And that’s true in regards both attitudes, and small daily details.
The relative cold and heavy showers may not have been ideal, but, when it comes to last beers under the cherry blossoms, it takes way more than that to deter most people.
So beers were drunk. Good times were had.
And cheeky looks were happily exchanged.
With our technology, consumerism and relentless obsession with talentless celebrities, the geisha in Kyoto arguably seem even more out of place than ever. Odd, almost ghost-like figures who effortlessly weave through the narrow, tourist-filled streets of their native Gion – their sporadic outings greeted with a mixture of giddy glee and hushed reverence. Neither of which are in any way surprising considering the geishas’ scarcity and history. Not to mention of course their incredible outfits and otherworldly appearance.
Yet for me at least it’s not their elegance or overall look that really sticks in the mind, but the surprisingly rapid clip-clop of traditional geta, plus the briefest glimpse of a painted neck, as they dash past on the way from one appointment to another.