By Gem (A more complete album of Kin’s pictures can be found on our Facebook page.)
Every year, a thousand glamorous butterflies dress in their most beautiful kimono (both modern and traditional) and descend on the town for their chance to eat free ice cream, win lottery prizes, and be relentlessly photographed. And photographed. And photographed!
One of the nicest things about this festival is that, unlike most kimono-related occasions, you get to wear any sort of kimono you like. Traditional Kyoto, modern Kimono Hime vibe, formal, informal, anything goes.
Most gorgeous were the young women in furisode, the brilliantly coloured, long-sleeved kimono traditionally worn for Coming Of Age. I believe that I, along with the other matrons, carried myself well in paler robes with simpler designs. But the furisode girls’ showy designs and spectacular hairstyles definitely put us in the shade!
Fortunately (unfortunately?) even if I weren’t in furisode, an Anglo-Saxon in Japanese formal wear is unusual enough in a country town that I still attracted plenty of attention. I did mention there were photographers, right?
A LOT of photographers. And when you have that many photographers, it actually gets a little hard to deal with. Of course, when you’ve dressed up to feel beautiful, it’s lovely to have other people think you look beautiful as wel
But not, actually, as lovely as you’d think. The photographers were like seagulls at a picnic; as soon as you toss a crust to one (Hai, shashin OK,) the whole flock spots it and before you know it, you’re surrounded by thirty lenses and your friends have disappeared.
I don’t think anyone was as relentlessly pursued as this little one, pictured here trying to hide from the solid mass of photographers surrounding her. Fear not, this photo did not add to her woes! Kin’s work is very subtle.
Poor Kin, who absolutely HATES being photographed, was also a popular target, thanks to his blonde hair and red hat. Luckily, he had his own lens to hide behind, and managed to fight back nobly.
Of course, like any festival, the kimono ladies weren’t the only attraction. Kurokabe is popular with tourists at any time, and many local organisations were also out showing off, like the local antique gun club (weapons manufacture is another local specialty…yay?) and a group of Imperial Guards in badly-fitting uniforms.
This gentleman was a noble-looking exception to the rest of his cohort, and we suspect this was mostly to do with his age. The rest of the “guards” were scruffy looking young men in their teens and early twenties, who were FAR too scrawny for their jackets, while he was probably more the age group who first commissioned the uniforms (and had the income to pay for them).
Our commitment to living locally was wonderfully rewarded by this festival. Rabid photographers, beautiful ladies and firearm enthusiasts (not to mention giant beers and samurai cats) make a combination that will definitely live on in our memories.
Again, for a more complete album of Kin’s photographs, please check out our Facebook page. Meanwhile, what amazing events are happening in YOUR area? Let us know!