Apart from the cultural heritage and spiritual meaning, Japanese festivals are also great places to observe good-looking guys doing odd things. Many claim that the food stalls are controlled by the underworld, but I know for certain that they are the source of endless “yankii” fashion. I love how the guy in the photo above is using a power tool to create the batter for delicious “castello” cakes that are made in cast iron molds.
And I know it’s completely inappropriate, but I couldn’t help but notice this attractive young guy selling children’s toys.
Ni-chome, Tokyo’s gay bar district in Shinjuku, hosted a summer festival, or omatsuri, the day after the Tokyo Pride Parade two weekends ago. Lots of color: traditional omikoshi, or portable shrine carrying; drag and summer yukatas; foreigners looking Japanese and Japanese looking foreign; some youths who look alien in their highly processed hair; an odd World War II cosplay (even more bizarre since the date was August 15, which marks Japan’s surrender); and a variety of frozen ice, giant sausages on sticks, and plenty of beer in cans.
I will end this 3 part series on the Shinjuku omatsuri with this image of an omikoshi (portable shrine) being marched through Ni-chome. It was a fun crowd, part gay, part old-timer, part gay old-timer! I love how this ordinary street is transformed by mystical spirits and a sense of community and common purpose.
Just to keep on topic with Tokyo Moe, there was one ikemen photo I captured of the shrine. The husband saw the photo, and said, “he’s handsome.” Dunhh! I know!
In addition to endless thass, there was endless yankii fashion at the omatsuri. No doubt this festival was extra riche in eye candy because the shrine is almost equidistant from Kabukicho, Golden Gai, and Ni-chome. According to Donald Richie, this old shrine was famous in the post-war years for being a place where truckers met trannies.
The above photo captures the absolute best of yankii fashion. The boys with their teased, damaged, and plastered helmet hair, and boots-in. The girl with piled high hair, looking both 50s in her leather jacket, 60s and 80s in her curvaceous fishnets. The best part is that all are eating food on a stick: two are eating pickled cukes and one an ice-cream.
In the photo below, they seem to have realized they captured a new fan. And I love how the more traditional fellow does a double-take, perhaps more startled by the foreigner’s interest than the archetypical fashion participating in this thousands year old religion. You can also see the girl’s shoes and her amazing legs much better!
Trust me, there were more big-haired boys than I could possible capture with my simple camera. Here’s one more. I am looking forward to the start of summer.
Summer is time for omatsuri, that curious blend of Shinto spirituality, yakuza food stalls, and major male thass. Generally Tokyo reserves the thass for ladies, but omatsuri is a special time for men to wear their festival coats with either fundoshi (a ritual jockstrap) or this tight white fabric that’s like a mini-skirt.
Needless to say, I find these male outfits bring me to a higher level of spirituality, compassion and awareness. As the weather warms up and the festivals spread throughout Tokyo, I am hoping to exceed last year‘s festival perving.
I love how nonchalant the men are despite revealing their thighs and the lower portions of their rears. The white, split-toe shoes and white socks only add to the “moe.”
My Japanese tipster, aka “the husband,” pointed me to this news story and these incredible photos about Hokkaido’s “misogi omatsuri” or festival.
I am not sure what the water is about, but it must certainly add to the masochism that Japanese are often fond of. Making this spiritual event all the more “moe,” only four men perform the ritual while everyone else watches them.
At a large suburban festival, we saw *three* booths involving boy bands. My favorite was the one above which involved a rifle shooting game, with the boy band images as either prizes or encouragements. This older guy looks ready to teach the kids how to shoot to kill. The guy running the game was kind of an ikemen, with his fried hair piled into a glitter sequin watch cap.
Below two booths sold boy band imagery. Interestingly, in Japan, there is no equivalent girl band objects. I guess Japanese (male loving) women are just lucky in that respect. I also suspect that the imagery objectifying women is perhaps too dirty to be shown in public at a festival.
And still more. Plus there was a Korean store full of Korean bands and idols.
This weekend there are a lot of omatsuri festivals in Tokyo. We visited one of the largest last night, which the husband and his siblings attended as children. Last year, we saw portable shrine carrying, and one super hot policeman. This year was quieter, with fun street food and lots of yankiis.
In addition to savory pancakes, yakisoba, shwarma, beer, a strange sweet on an ice block, one omatsuri tradition is chocolate covered bananas with sprinkles. Somehow this image confirms every foreigners’ image of Tokyo, combining kawaii, moe and moe.
The husband, Y. and I went to an omatsuri last night in Shu’s old neighborhood. Sorry for the dark video (and strange ending), but it gives you an idea of the music, chanting, and sweating involved.
In contrast to normal life in Japan, we ate some fun food standing up– I had a swarma, the huband ate okonomiyaki and agemochi, Y. ate chijimiyaki, anzame, blue chocolate banana, and we got some cookies for the in-laws and H. Because it was a festival, there were even public trash cans!
This photo was taken just because. Y. laughed about it, and then called him ikemen (イケメン or “hot guy”).