Asakusa

Tea cup balconies and giant chef’s head decorate entrance to Kappabashi, Tokyo’s Kitchen Town

cups_kappabashi

合羽橋を知っていますか。台所に必要なものが何でもあります。最近フライパンを買いました。大きなシェフの頭とベランダのカップが面白いと思いませんか?

Between Asakusa and Ueno is Kappabashi, or Kitchen Town, a great place to buy everything from pots and pans to kitchenware and even the plastic foods restaurants use to advertise their menus outside. I’d seen the giant chef’s head online, but was completely surprised by the red, white and blue teacup balconies across the street and next to the police box.

chef_kappabashi

Festival outfit mixes easily with mama-chari bike and cellphone

bicycle_sanjamatsuri

はっぴを着ている人は、携帯を使いながら、ママチャリを乗っています。祭りでは、昔のものと現代のものが混ざります。

I missed all the shrine carrying, but what I really enjoy is the mix of the old and new, all taking place on streets full of people and closed to traffic. I like how this guy is casually wearing his happi jacket and no pants while talking on the phone and balancing on the prototypical Tokyo bike with kids seat and basket.

Some “downtown” characters form part of the organizing committee

men_sanjamatsuri
三社祭のまとめ係の人は、下町っぽいです。

These gentlemen look like they’ve participated in the Asakusa sanja matsuri many times before. They seem very much at home in Tokyo’s shitamachi, known for its traditional, Edo-influenced culture.

Wood and string toy provides old-fashioned challenge

balance_game_sanjamatsuri

剣玉は、伝統的な遊びです。

It’s nice to see the young people at the matsuri giving their smartphones a rest and enjoying some old-fashioned games, like kendama which involves catching a ball tied to two wood cups with a string.

Food and drink spill out into the street

sidewalk_drinking_sanjamatsuri

路上に、食べ物も飲み物もはみ出しています。ビールと霊的な行事は組み合わせがよさそうです。

Nearby commercial establishments put tables and chairs into the street. Beer and mixed drinks in cans seem to fuel the spiritual rites.

sidewalk_drinking2_sanjamatsuri

A clan assembles in front of Sky Tree in an Asakusa side street

skytree_sanjamatsuri
スカイツリーの前に、人が集まっています。御神輿は時代を通して変わらない儀式なようです。

Alongside the worship of local dieties, who are physically carried through the streets, Tokyo matsuris bring clans together and express group identity with matching jackets. Sky Tree in the background provides a contemporary marker to what feels like a timeless ritual .

Working class fashions include ink and hair dye

tattoo_sanjamatsuri

祭りでは、下町のファションが見られます。浅草の三社祭では、刺青が多いです。パンクのピンク色の髪もあります。

While much of “proper” Japan forbids the sight of tattoos, at festivals there is a proliferation of working class fashion, including large visible tattoos. I was equally struck by the long pink mane that makes the other fellow look like a punk version of My Little Pony. On-street drinking and smoking are also possible.