Glimpses of old Japan-1

Japan is a country where history is carefully preserved to showcase its rich culture and heritage that goes back centuries. Preservation of heritage is not an easy task for a country that has gone through phases of destruction due to war and rivalries, as well as various natural disasters and calamities in the form of fires, earthquakes, etc. Despite such drawbacks, the country has beautifully preserved many of its old structures, as well as almost everything related to its heritage and culture. This old Japan often shows her face in numerous events organized regularly across the country and throughout the year. Yabusame, an archery competition held in shrines, is one such event where people gather to get a first-hand view of the forgotten days when Samurai warriors competed in target practice. Dressed in full attire of warlords, the participants do the same as their ancestors once did; hitting the target saddled on fast-running horseback.

The photos depicting the lady in a Kimono was taken at the Shimogamo shrine in Kyoto in 2008, where a special event for the press was held to mark the thousandth anniversary of “The Tale of Genji”, the first ever written novel in world literature. This lady was wearing a 12-layer kimono which is no longer in use these day, to show the reality of life of a princess in Kyoto Castle at the time when the author Murasaki Shikibu has written the novel. All of the twelve layers look wonderfully attractive, carefully hiding the burden court ladies had to bear in those days just for the sake of looking beautiful in the eyes of men.

There are also photos of Samurai warriors and ordinary village folk that I came across while travelling through Fukui prefecture. Part of the Himeji castle on a bright winter’s day and the castle gate with a Daimyo or warlord standing in front of it, also displays the old Japan that has long since disappeared.