This week I experienced history and went to Asakusa, one of the most famous historic districts in Tokyo. The picture above is of Kaminarimon, a major landmark and gate to a shopping district where you can buy kimono, yukata, folding fans, and delicious Japanese food.
I went there with a group of friends from the traditional Japanese dance club that I’m a member of, in order to buy a yukata, obi, and tabi socks to dance in. Even in the rain I saw lots of Japanese people going for a walk in their traditional clothing, and there were also several young men pulling rickshaws that people rode in to various locations. I was impressed at how much people love to keep their heritage alive while also evolving with the rapid technological and scientific advances of the day.
Being a part of my dance club has been a great experience. Not only did we go to Asakusa (and I love the yukata that I bought there) but I’ve also learned more about how to use a folding fan, the names for the various parts of the fan, different types of movement in Japanese dance, and lots of traditional ways to show respect. Even walking among peers, several of the native Japanese club members spoke in very formal, respectful language towards one another.
Also, when we aren’t actively rehearsing a dance we sit on zabuton cushions in traditional seiza style. Seiza is kneeling with the top of your feet flat on the floor or cushion, and sitting on your soles. It hurts. A lot. At the end of each rehearsal we thank one another for everyone’s hard work that day and bow respectfully. I feel so lucky to not only be able to learn about traditional culture, but also to experience it! Being an active participant in the culture and society that I live in has really helped me gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the people I interact with every day.