I thought this might be an appropriate post for Halloween week-end as it is all about fun, costumes, and getting dressed up. I was just in Japan (Kyoto and Tokyo) for a brief visit. As I arrived in Kyoto, I noticed that many women were wearing kimonos all over the city. I was somewhat surprised as I had been to Kyoto before and there were very few Japanese women wearing kimonos in the city (and if they were to do it, it would mostly be for special occasions). I also noticed that these outfits were much more colorful and less subdued than the Japanese kimonos one usually sees. Asking around, I was told that it had become very trendy for tourists (mostly Chinese but many others including non-Asians) to dress up in a kimono and walk around as best they could in geta (Japanese-style clogs). Kimono-dressed tourists were especially common in the beautiful temples of Kyoto where they were busy taking pictures of themselves, so a dress-up version of selfies.
Initially, I was not inclined to shoot these “fake” (a much overused word these days) kimono wearers thinking that it was not the real Japan. But upon reflection, I realized that this influx of dressed up tourists is a salient part of the real Japan these days and I decided to embrace it. So, I photographed women (and some men) in kimonos visiting various Kyoto landmark sites such as the Fushimi and Yasaka shrines and the Nanzen-ji Temple) as well as enjoying the Gion district and the Nishiki market. In Tokyo, I found kimono-clad women mostly at the Senso-ji temple also known as Asakusa Kannon. I also noticed that many find that the complete kimono experience must incorporate at least one ride on a traditional rickshaw.
Speaking of costumes, some Japanese girls like to dress up too. But one is more likely to see them in a Lolita outfit than a kimono. The Lolita style, mostly influenced by Victorian children’s clothing has been in vogue in Japan for the last 10 years and shows no sign of abating.
And for the final focus of this costume-inspired post, I included some images taken at the beautiful Meiji shrine in Tokyo where one can see numerous Japanese weddings taking place on weekends. If you want to see the full richness and elegance of traditional Japanese style, this is the place to go.
Happy Halloween to all. (By the way, Halloween is now a HUGE commercial enterprise in Japan complete with pop-up stores and big window displays in department stores. It is amusing to see which American traditions go viral internationally.)
Trick or treat!
P.S. You can follow me on Instagram at franceleclerc