God I Miss Japan
And it’s little things like this that remind me of that:
The Dancing Elvis’, as they are affectionately known, get together every weekend at the eastern entrance to Yoyogi Park in metropolitan Tokyo. Yoyogi Park was our favorite way to spend a Sunday, hanging out and watching people.
Here’s one of my shots of the Elvii:
They brought their own generators that powered amps blaring rockabilly all afternoon. They’d dance until they couldn’t move. But we wouldn’t hang out there long. Too many other things to see.
Just up the street from the Elvii, all along the sidewalk, bands would set up, powered by portable generators, and crank out their best tunes. Some incredible talent could be heard there. But I understand now that the local government has cracked down on the bands and they’ve all disappeared. Boooo!
Here are the “Japanese Babies”, who I guess are now defunct. The band would blare out punk tunes at the rate of 180-200bpm, all the while this guy in the foreground would paint portraits of the people in the crowd in time to the music:
Autumn was my favorite, since Yoyogi Park was full of gingko biloba trees. They would all turn a bright yellow, similar to aspens. The color would be amazing. Even more fun would be watching people pile the leaves on the grates over the subway, then wait for a train to go by. The rush of air would launch the leaves into the air so they would shower down:
And there were often festivals, like the Yosakoi, which is a competition of large dance troupes. Think of a Japanese version of line dancing, but a lot more fun:
And even though all of that was amazing, the most impressive part was heading the other direction, around the corner to Meiji Shrine. Sundays were the guaranteed day to see several traditional Japanese weddings. Even though the ceremony was held within the private confines of the temple, it was tradition to march the couple and their entourage through the ground of the temple, then set them up for their professional photos. Of course, that gave the rest of us the perfect opportunity to grab our shots too:
So it’s fun to see things like the video of the Dancing Elvis’. Good memories and quite a few tangents, thinking about good times with good friends.
In a wonderful place.
BTW, all photos are © Bill Anders (yes, I have to put that, since several folks have seen fit to heist my photos for their own credit/use, and hence the fugly watermarks on the images).