Japan from the inside out


Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THE Japanese festival tradition isn’t limited to older Shinto ceremonies. For example, high schools and colleges also hold what they call culture festivals. Earlier this fall, the Tokyo University of the Arts, the country’s most prestigious art school, held its annual festival called the Geisai 2012.

It’s staged every year for three days, and this year it featured performances by more than 50 musicians from the music department, an exhibition of more than 50 works of art by students from the fine arts department, a film festival, street stalls, and a beauty contest called the Idol Matsuru! (That last is a bit of collegiate humor — the Japanese refer to teen pop stars as idols, and matsuru, the root word for matsuri, or festival, means to deify as a god.)

It must have been fun, because 100,000 people showed up, and the school doesn’t have that many students.

This year’s theme was “eat! Eat! Art!” Explained the student head of the festival committee:

“The idea is that we want people to feel closer to art. We hope the participants get a taste of the arts that will satisfy their appetite.”

And just like a Shinto festival, Geisai opens with a mikoshi parade. This year’s parade was held in Ueno Park with eight mikoshi designed on non-Shinto themes that included Mexico, frogs, and outer space.

Added the committee chair:

The Geisai is the crystallization of the expression of diversity.

I think it’s safe to take his word for it.

Here’s alumnus Sakamoto Ryuichi giving everyone what they want: A Happy End.

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