Friday, 1 May 2009

The last few days (Very full blog!)

Hi there!
It's been a few days, I apologise.I have had a busy few days! Shopping, checking out a doll festival, shopping, taking project photos in Shinjuku, shopping, visiting the Ghibli Museum, shopping and enjoying some of the local sites that Narita has to offer. As such, this is a pretty big blog with lots of videos and pictures, so if you can stick with it and not get too bored, I hope you will enjoy it!

So lets start with the Harajuku Doll Festival. Yuki and I were given free tickets as a gift because on my first day here I ...ahem, spent quite a few yen in a clothes shop based in the same building.
On Wednesday, after some browsing around Harajuku we battled through the crowds and film crews that had gathered for the opening of the first Japanese 'Forever 21' store and made our way to the doll festival.
Dolls in Japan are not like dolls in the rest of the world. They tend to be very dark creatures, often portrayed as being children, dead children, innocent/sexual beings and/or androgynous beauties. Personally I like the ones that look like dead children best, but I'm sure you all guessed that. ;)
The quality of these dolls is just incredible, some of the features are so fine, it's like these creations actually have souls. I have never been a fan of china dolls, as a child I knew a few girls who had a lot and they freaked me out (I preferred He-Man), but I like these dolls, very much.
That said, I couldn't have an alive looking one in my bedroom, waaaay too creepy for me!

Various doll faces and hands

A small section of a much bigger set.

After a shop and some food we went on to Shinjuku, sleazy, wonderful Shinjuku, now mostly owned my the Triads (Chinese mafia).
I had to shoot the last part of my uni project there, so we needed to wait until it was dark for the pictures to be perfect.
While we wandered around trying to find the best spot, I shot a couple of little tours for your enjoyment. Please note, not all photographers are great cameramen,
I am the PERFECT example of that, in short, I can't shoot movies for shit, so take some motion sickness tablets and sit back!

An alley in Shinjuku

A short walk through Shinjuku

The next day was another busy one. I woke up at 5:45am (also known as Stupid-O'clock) so we could leave to catch the bus at 7am. I didn't mind one bit as we were going to the Ghibli Museum. I am a MASSIVE Studio Ghibli fan, so this was a particularly special event for me. The rules of the museum are strict. No photos, food, drinks, mobile phones, no one over the age of 11 is to sit in the Cat-Bus (boooo!) or anything else that could spoil the experience for others. I was slightly concerned as I don't do incredibly well with rules, but it was fine. The rules worked, everyone had a great time as there were no outside influences whatsoever. I saw an exclusive 20 minutes film a Totoro spin-off about Mai and the son of Cat-Bus, it was so perfect I may have shed a little tear... Maybe... If anyone reading this has plans to visit Japan, please, please set aside some time for this fantastic museum. It only costs 1000yen (£5 when the economy is behaving itself) and takes just 2 hours to see, a little more if you want to have a good shop.

Caretaker Robot from Laputa: Castle in the Sky

After Ghibli we visited a few shops, one of which was a small boutique selling exclusive modern looking silver jewellery with traditional Japanese designs. I did not budget for this shop, but the pieces were so beautiful and so exclusive, I just couldn't leave them in the shop. Yuki told me I will most likely be the only person in the whole of the U.K. with these pieces of jewellery. This makes me happy.
We then went to a HUGE shop that sold crafty things and toys etc, more money spent. Afterwards we went to an otaku mecha. Super-geeks need only apply, this place was FULL of retro toys from every manga, anime or movie you could think of. Except the 2 animes that I was looking for ...probably a good thing though!

Today we took a break from shopping THANK GOD(!), and looked after our souls by visiting Narita Temple and the surrounding area which is like a chibi version of Kyoto. I always love to visit temples, Shinto or Buddhist. They have an aura of calm around them that I am unable to feel anywhere else; just so welcoming and non-judgemental. I have never had that feeling in a church, in fact, I have felt the opposite for as long as I can remember. If Japan didn't sell so many cool things, I could quite happily spend my time visiting temples.

Just one of the beautiful views from the temple.

All the buildings in this shopping area are well over 100 years old or more.

And now for some more videos! Please check out the descriptions on the Youtube pages for more info.

This is part of our bus journey.

Here is a video I shot so you can have a small tour of the front of the temple.

On the way back we saw these women practising their dance routine for a show they must be doing next week (Golden Week).

Finally, because I only just uploaded it, here is a video that should have gone on my last blog. It is Yuki's mother's music group performing an ancient samurai song. Junko (Yuki's mother AKA my Mama) sings the solo part. She has a great voice, though the style of music and singing is very different to what most Western ears are used to.

Well, that is all for today. I have a few more exciting days ahead of me, visiting Narita again tomorrow, because I love it there, then I am going to the coast on Monday! I adore the sea, really I do, I like to hug it when I see it. It gets excited and sprays me. :P Sorry, I should really go to bed now! Hahahaha!

Hope you enjoyed this! It's always nice when people enjoy what I have written, to those of you who let me know, thank you. (^_^)v