Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Welcome to Tokyo Design Festa!

This is a montage of the last Design Festa vol 29.

Design Festa is one wild weird weeked of an eclectic gathering of artistic chaos of artists, musicians, craftsmen, performance artists.

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September 26, 2009 Posted by | art, avant-garde, culture, dance, design festa, drums, japan, music, musicians, risque, sexy, taiko, tokyo, Tokyo Design Festa, video, weird, WTF | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At New Year’s Japan Breaks Out the Paddles – Hagoita Ichi

At New Year’s Japan Breaks Out the Paddles
Traditional game paddle hagoita is decorated with kabuki actors, geisha, and celebrities


A market stall brimming with traditional Hagoita paddles

The Annual Hagoita Ichi Fair is held in Asakusa, Tokyo close to the New Year. Around the temple grounds of Senso-ji Temple dozens of market stalls are set up to display and sell their decorative hagoita. Hagoita in English is known as Battledore but this word doesn’t really help many people understand what a hagoita is either. It’s best to say that a hagoita is a wooden paddle or racket.


A Hagoita salesman peddling his wares

In the past, hagoita were used in the game hanetsuki which was similar to badminton. The game was played by girls around New Year’s. If a girl missed the shuttlecock (called a hane), her face would be smeared with ink. The game would go on until one girl’s face was covered with ink.


Hagoita paddles with modern cute characters

Hanetsuki also served as a ritual bestowing health upon the players and providing protection from mosquitoes. Because of this belief, the traditional present to a newborn baby girl is a hagoita which is seen as a good luck charm to protect the health of girls.


Anime characters from the past to the near present

Although hanetsuki declined in popularity, the hagoita became popular in their own right as ornamental pieces. In the Edo Period (1615-1867) decorative hagoita paddles were sold at traditional fairs known as hagoita ichi. Hagoita are decorated with portraits printed on fabric and pasted to a paddle in order to make them protrude like a relief.


Geisha have always been popular Hagoita designs

Hagoita range in all sizes from small hand-size ones to gargantuan ones nearly the size of a person. Hagoita run from about 500 yen (US$5) to 500,000 yen ($5000) for the extremely large ones.


Hagoita depicting popular Kabuki Characters

Popular Kabuki characters or actors are the traditional hagoita portrait along with Geisha. Some hagoita portray scenes from well-known Kabuki plays such as the Atsumori incident which occurred during the Gempei War (1180-1185).


Atsumori and Kumagai – two famous figures from Japanese history

Atsumori is a famous incident from the epic “Heike Monogatari” which tells of the war between the Genji and the Heike clans. At the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani, a Genji samurai known as Kumagai captured the young and elegant Heike warrior Atsumori. Taking in account the boy’s youth and having recently almost lost a son of the same age, the Kumagai wanted to release the boy but there were too many Genji warriors about. The boy’s fate was sealed either way.

Kumagai took the youth’s head humanely with dignity and respect. Kumagai shortly left the life of a samurai and retired to become a monk. The story of the incident has been popularized in Noh and Kabuki plays. At the Hagoita Ichi, one can find many hagoita paddles of all different sizes depicting this scene.


Two hagoita paddles portray a famous woodblock print of a Kabuki actor by Sharaku

Nowadays, Kabuki hagoita paddles will find themselves next to Hello, Kitty! hagoita along other new popular themes such as anime characters, sumo wrestlers, baseball players, and TV stars.


Modern Celebrities adorning Hagoita


A saleswoman standing amongst her hagoita

December 16, 2008 Posted by | art, Asakusa, hagoita, japan, japanese culture, japanese history, New Years, tokyo, traditional art, travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Surreal World of Eyeball Love Globe Group from Tokyo Design Festa

The Eyeball Love Globe Group from Taiwan at the Tokyo Design Festa

The Eyeball Love Globe Group from Taiwan at the Tokyo Design Festa

Take a dip into the surreal and the avant-garde with the Taiwanese performance group – the Eyeball Love Globe group.

The Eyeball Love Globe performed at the Tokyo Design Festa this past May and have done so a few other times before being one of the popular re-occuring performances at the exhibition.

Eyeball Love Globe

the music for two of the segements is from Seven Cycle Theory:

Seven Cycle Theory

It’s also up for votes on Current TV:
Eyeball on Current TV – Register and Vote please!

July 31, 2008 Posted by | art, avant-garde, Blogroll, culture, current tv, dance, electronica, entertainment, event, Eyeball Love Globe, japan, life, taiwan, tokyo, Tokyo Design Festa, travel, video, youtube | Leave a comment

Artistic Chaos – The Tokyo Design Festa Movie!

The Tokyo Design Festa is a semi-annual event where artists, craftsmen, performers, musicians, film-makers, and what-not gather from all over the world to exhibit their creations.

It’s a weekend of artistic chaos!

It’s up for votes on Current TV:
http://current.com/items/89051722_artistic_chaos_the_tokyo_design_festa

Help a Blogger out, why doncha?

July 2, 2008 Posted by | art, avant-garde, cosplay, costumes, culture, current tv, dance, entertainment, event, festival, japan, japanese culture, life, music, tokyo, Tokyo Design Festa, travel, video, vlog, youtube | , , , , | Leave a comment

Artistic Chaos – The Tokyo Design Festa

Artistic Chaos!!!
The Tokyo Design Festa – a chaotic ensemble of art


The Tokyo Design Festa


Anime fan wearing an all handmade costume

As I entered the futuristic-looking Tokyo Big Site building on Odaiba Island, I was greeted by a person with the head of fish. Beyond him/her/it and all about the place wandered a colorful assortment of strange characters which appeared to have been born in fertile imaginations bred on Japanese Anime, Gothic Horror, and Salvador Dali. It was then that I knew I had reached my destination: the Tokyo Design Festa.


Fishhead man advertising


Getting a leg up or two at Tokyo Design Festa


Usagi – Drumming Rabbits – Female Taiko Group

Design Festa is a chaotic showcase of artists, musicians, craftsmen, designers, dancers, and performers – the sublime mixed with the avant garde. The Design Festa takes place twice a year in Tokyo and has been going on for 14 years.


A Wild Wall

Artists come from all over the world to participate. Booths are set up to showcase their creations and crafts. Visitors can look at, handle, and purchase their favorite pieces. In addition they have the chance to talk with the artist to learn more about them and their artwork.


An artist below one of her works


Painter creating art at the Festa

For artists, the Design Festa gives them the opportunity to get their work noticed and possibly sold. The event is a breeding ground for future art as a lot of networking goes on between artists which can lead to potential collabrations.


Pint-size masters at work


Ninja getting down with their badselves


A twirling ghost

There is so much to see, do, and absorb in a weekend at Design Festa. The place is literally a beehive of activity. There are performances to see, workshops to attend, bands to hear, painters to watch, and oddity to puzzle over.


Geisha Gone Godzilla


Panda Man! He eats, shoots, and leaves.

Some of the booths offer short workshops to teach visitors a bit their craft. I tried my hand at the ancient art of Japanese calligraphy. Calligraphy in old Japan was considered an all important skill. In the far off days of the Heian Period (794-1192), a person’s calligraphy was believed to be a mirror of their character. I would have been laughed out of the Heian Court with my paltry attempt at the turtle kanji character. My turtle looked a bit more like a sickly chicken strung up by clumsy anti-poultry vigilantes. My teacher, a ten year old girl, was patient with me and guided me as best as she could.


Me with my Calligrapher Teacher


Anime School Girl Calligrapher

At a makeup special effects booth, visitors were able to get horrific body scars which didn’t hurt a bit. I got myself a nice deep scar running down my arm which later fooled a few drunks at my local bar.


I got scarred at Tokyo Design Festa


A bloody guitarist

There were several fantasical creations from this booth wandering around surprising the unwary and small children. One was tall elegant alien creature frighteningly realistic but fortunately sweetenly demure.


A very realistic alien courtesy of special effects make up

Another creation was a ghastly sculpture of a half-tree half-woman monster with the severed head of a man in her/its hand. Her/Its roots were nourished with the blood and gore of other men. It was a macarbe cocktail of environmentalism and feminism blended horrifically together.


Environmental Feminism at its goriest


A samurai fiercely guarding his booth

Along with the countless booths, there are a variety of showings throughout the day in different sections of the event area. Bands, short films, musicians, eclectic performers can be seen outside, upstairs, and in the main hall. I was able to see rock bands, taiko drum groups, naughty nurses, a gyrating eyeball man, and a dancing ninja troupe.


A band performing at the outdoor stage


Guitarist licks lips as he rips licks


The Bufferins – naughty pain relievers

One of the popular returning performance groups is Mr. Eyeball Love Globe from Taiwan. The group is headed by man with an enormous eyeball as his head. His outfit is covered with a similar pattern. His story from his flyer is that he is an alien here to spread love. The Eyeball group was one of the most out-there groups and attracted a lot of attention. They have been to Design Festa several times before.


Mr Eyeball Love Globe Group from Taiwan


Avant-Garde at its Warholian best

Design Festa takes place twice a year in May and November. For more information please check:

http://www.designfesta.com/index.html

July 2, 2008 Posted by | art, avant-garde, Blogroll, cosplay, costumes, culture, dance, entertainment, event, festival, japan, japanese culture, life, music, ninja, painters, painting, tokyo, Tokyo Design Festa, travel | , , , , | 4 Comments