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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Young Women in Kimono at Meiji Shrine during Seijin No Hi (Coming Of Age Day)

Today's (actually, since it's 1am while I'm writing this, it's actually yesterday) a public holiday in Japan. It's Seijin No Hi (Coming-of-Age Day). On this day, ceremonies are held at local city offices for young adults who reach the age of 20. Women go out in furisode (a style of kimono with long sleeves draped down, which is necessary, since it's winter), men occasionally go out in traditional clothes, but nowadays they usually wear suits.

Young women in kimono on COMING-OF-AGE DAY

A young woman in Kimono

3 young women in kimono

A year ago today, I wasn't able to see that many people celebrating the day because I was location hunting with Maiko and Josha the Cinematographer for KINGYO at Inokashira park (wow, it's nearly been a year since I shot KINGYO)

I decided to go to Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) to see how the day was being celebrated. I met up with fellow Malaysian and photographer Jasril (who had a badass Canon 7D, which I used to shoot my latest film EXHALATION) to take photos of this special day.

A gate at Meiji Shrine

The Meiji Shrine is the shrine with the largest amount of visitors on New Year's Day.

The 34th annual ice sculpture exhibition was being held.

34th annual Meiji Shrine ice sculpture exhibition

A tiger for the Year of the Tiger.

Year of the Tiger

A girl playing a harp. I always thought that a harp-playing girl exudes elegance and class, and meeting one in person would make me swoon. Unfortunately, the only harp player I know is a bloke.

Girl playing a harp

A fairy.

A fairy

Dancing white birds.

Dancing white birds


Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it's better
Down where it's wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin'
Full time to floatin'
Under the sea... blah blah.


Icarus, before plummeting to his death. Bye bye.


Crane. I once read the book, THOUSAND CRANES, by Yasunari Kawabata in one sitting at the bookshop in Roppongi Hills. Not one of my favourite Kawabata books, but it's decent enough.


This looks like a Dali painting. Its title is (loose translation) "It's all right to cry".

Something that looks like a Dali painting

This looks abstract too.

For Ever! Writing name on sculpture is nice touch

Anyway, I'll continue with the ladies in kimono. Many people took photos with them at Meiji Shrine. The ladies seemed nicer to foreigners and tourists, so I made sure I spoke in English before I took photos of them.

Foreigners taking photos with kimono girls

This boy standing in front of the gate was particularly popular. He was dressed in traditional costume, I wondered whether he was supposed to dress up as an onmyoji (Yin Yang Master!).

Child dressed up as Onmyoji?

Onmyoji kid posed for me

(click here if you can't see embedded video)

Close-up of onmyoji kid

I then took a photo of this old man. It was definitely in purpose. It's not as if he wandered into the foreground of my photo when I was trying to take a photo of the striking-looking woman in the distance who was taking photos.

Sister 1 (with old man in foreground)

Then I took another photo of the onmyoji boy. It's not as if he was getting in my way as I was trying to take a photo of the also striking-looking woman with a white bag in the background whose photos were being taken by her sister above.

Sister 2 (onmyoji boy in foreground)

That's Jasril at the left of the photo. With his niiiiiice camera.

South gate (with Jasril)

At the main courtyard. This group of girls were mobbed by photographers.

Group of kimono girls

Then I felt a little amused when they were being asked to move aside by security guards. I thought maybe the girls were disrupting the shrine for attracting so many photographers.

(Click here if you can't see embedded video)

Apparently it was to make way for a Shinto Wedding Procession.

Japanese wedding

For one moment, all eyes were on the wedding couple. What a great day to get married. What a great place!

Click here if can't see embedded video

I felt like Scarlett Johansson in LOST IN TRANSLATION when she witnessed a Japanese wedding.

Non-Japanese celebrated the day too, to the joy of the Japanese. Ah, if only I were 5 years younger and were a beautiful woman, I would like this sort of attention!

Foreigners wear kimono too

Schoolgirl taking photo of kimono girl.

Schoolgirl takes photo of kimono girl

The same kimono lady, under a tree, showing her obi.

Kimono lady under the tree

This girl was actually Chinese. I spoke briefly to her mom when I overheard her speaking to her daughter in Mandarin. True to being a Chinese, she wore the colour red, for prosperity and luck!

Chinese girl in striking red kimono

As I was leaving the Meiji Shrine, I saw the Onmyoji boy leaving too.

Onmyoji boy leaving

In Shibuya, a group of ladies in kimono were trying to take photos of each other.

Kimono girls taking photos of each other in Shibuya

I joined in the fun.

Me with Kimono girls

Then others went to take photos with them too. Because I started a trend.

Kimono girls at Shibuya

Tradition meets modernity.

A kimono girl at Shibuya during the night