Sunday 26 October 2014

Japan: Weddings and Lolita girls (and boys)

Sketch in Kagurazaka district, Tokyo
In the early hours of the morning, the back streets of the Kagurazaka district were beginning to stir as I searched for somewhere to sketch.

I settled in front of a building that featured many of the items that are so fascinating about the city: simple, elegant buildings, tangled electricity and telephone cables, large colourful signs and vending machines. Little did I know that I was sitting one shop away from the Michelin one-star restaurant, Lugdunum Bouchon Lyonnais. Bother. As Mrs M was waiting to begin our final day of sightseeing in the city, there was not time to complete the sketch, so it would have to be finished at home.

Visitors entering the Meiji Jingu temple included families in morning suits and kimonos attending wedding ceremonies in the main courtyard. Every fifteen minutes, a procession would emerge headed by officials in front of the bride and groom, closely followed by the immediate family.

Wedding group - Meji Jingu temple, Tokyo
Girl in Kimono - Meiji Jingu temple, TokyoAround the temple couples and families were being arranged for their wedding photographs while small children in traditional costumes posed for tourists. It was an unexpected and fascinating insight into Japanese culture.

A short walk from the temple is another intriguing example of Japanese culture. Takeshita Dori is a narrow street lined with shops, boutiques, cafés, ice cream parlours and crêperies targeted at Tokyo's teenagers. The street is one of the centres for Lolita fashion outfits which include short dresses, petticoats, knee high socks or stockings, headdresses and fancy hair. With Halloween approaching, there were also many groups dressed in spooky outfits, complete with gruesome makeup.

Lolita man - Takeshita Dori, TokyoLolita girls - Takeshita Dori, TokyoWe had lunch in a backstreet café before returning to Takeshita Dori where an American chap was entertaining the crowds dressed in a short pink and blue Lolita outfit, knee-length socks, pigtails and beard. I had to admire his balls. Plans to walk to the city’s exclusive shopping street of Omotesando were abandoned due to the staggering volume of people traffic.

In the evening, we found a decent French restaurant, La Maison de la Bourgogne, which would not have looked out of place in Paris. While Mrs M polished off her beef cheeks with chestnut sauce, I followed my steak-frites with a plate of four cheeses: Valençay, Brie De Meaux, Fourme d'Ambert and Époisses de Bourgogne. Splendid.

Home tomorrow, sadly.

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