Saturday, June 4, 2016

Enjoying Ginza without a shopping bag

Hokoten or 'pedestrians heaven', Sunday afternoon, on Ginza's main street.
It was truly 'pedestrians heaven' when people invaded Ginza on that Sunday afternoon we were visiting the place. They were either strolling freely up and down the main street or hopping from one store to another for the shopping spree. The Japanese call this 'heaven' Hokoten, short for Hokosha Tengoku.

For those who love untrammeled walking, it was a grand time to observe humankind, and to look around for something off the ordinary, one that does not spell 'market' or smell 'money.'

Cities and their associated endemic/symbolic flora. This is one of four panels.

We quickly noticed one building under construction or repair fenced off with white walls for the usual reasons: aesthetics (no eyesores) and public safety.  The walls looked though like a long canvas bearing nine murals with various Japanese motifs, all framed by what appeared to us from a distance the outlines of folded papers.

The koinobori, a carp streamer.

The frames actually took off, according to the large production notes on the wall, from the byobu, the Japanese folding screens made up of several panels hinged together. Of course, we know that these screens serve some practical and aesthetic purposes. They're intended to 'block out the wind' or to hide something from view. The artistic merits come from the decorative paintings with calligraphy on the screens.

"Mt. Fuji, here I come!"

The notes said that byobu paintings inspired 77-year old Junko Koshino, internationally known Japanese woman fashion designer, to produce the set of modernistic designs she called 'Japanese Beauty.'  She wanted to convey 'the diverse appeal Japan has to offer to foreign visitors.' 

Immediately recognizable were the outline of the iconic Mt. Fuji and the carp (fish) streamers called koinobori. If we could read Japanese, we would be able to identify the flora associated with the cities named in four of the 'Beauty' panels.

Well, that was part of the learning experience of a first-time visitor to the Land of the Rising Sun. Earlier in the Hiroshima Prefecture, we were taught how to wear the kimono and to arrange a few flowers and leaves in the Japanese minimalist method - ikebana.

Going past "Japanese Beauty" on the wall.

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