Thursday, August 27, 2009

Japanese Festival in Little Tokyo

I am a little behind in posting this since the Nisei Week Japanese Festival was a couple of weeks ago.  On the bright side, this post does bring me a lot closer to being caught up.  Yay!

I am a huge fan of Japanese culture.  From the food to the fashion, I love it all!  So, the hubby and I took the subway into Little Tokyo to take part in the festivities.  I went armed with my Canon 40D and Canon 50mm f/1.8.

I had never been to Little Tokyo before.  It seems to take up just a little area in Downtown LA and within that little area it is packed with quaint little shops, restaurants and the lovely Japanese American National Museum.  There were many people having fun in the summer sun.  First, we watched a kimono fashion show.  I knew I was in the right place when I saw that one of the models was a dog.  :D

Also, I was pleased to see that there were many people there armed with their cameras.  I saw one gentleman that looked to be shooting with a Hasselblad 503CWD SLR.  I wanted to ask him about it, but chickened out.  I am hoping one day I won't be so shy when it comes to talking to other photographers.  I just know I am missing out on valuable info and meeting new people.  I find so far that photographers are some of the most helpful and generous people. Not sure what I am afraid of.

After checking out the booths outside we headed inside to the air-conditioned Japanese American National Museum.  As soon as we stepped inside I could hear and feel the welcoming beat of Taiko drumming.  They were already well in to their set and there was a sizeable crowd so we decided to walk around first.  The museum is filled with many old and intriguing photos depicting the early years of Japanese immigrants settling in America.  I found my self staring for awhile at some of the photos with wonderment.  I put myself in their shoes and imagined what it must have been like starting a life in a whole new world faced with so many adversities.  If you are ever in the area I recommend visiting this place.

In one part of the exhibit there is this stereoscope you could try out.  My favorite stereo card depicted Japanese farmers in a field.  One of these days I need to get in to stereoscopic photography, but that's a whole other blog.

Our next stop was the Kokeshi exhibit.  I really wish I could have taken photos of these wonderful wooden dolls but photography was prohibited.  A lot of them were modern versions created by artists of today.  They were all inspiring and I now want to make one of my own.  When I get around to it you know I'll be taking pictures and posting it here!

We then sat down in the front row to catch the next Taiko performance. Before the next show they had people come up and do the Bon Odori traditional dance.  People of all ages went up to dance while an instructor helped the ones who had never done it before by giving out instructions.

Up next was the group "Progressive Taiko."  I have seen a few performances of Taiko before but this group has to be my favorite so far.  They were young, fun, cute, full of energy and have a modern approach while at the same time honoring the traditions of Taiko.

We then concluded the day with a sushi dinner.  I wanted to make it a full day of Japanese fun by watching Ponyo, but opted for going home and relaxing by editing photos instead.

Since my interest in photography re-ignited I have gone to places and done things I might have just skipped out on otherwise. Sometimes I go to things just to photograph the event and find myself learning so much more about the city, the people and culture that the initial impetus of gaining photography experience becomes the unexpected bonus.

If you read this far I thank you.  Please to enjoy the slideshow of my visit to Little Tokyo.


Blog Admin said...

Cool, we were also there....Wego to little Toyko alot....

Rachel McCauley said...

Is this Todd?

Little Tokyo is lovely. I can see why you go there often.