street fashion and ukiyo-e

I spent an afternoon walking around Takeshita Dori in the Harajuku neighborhood before going to a woodblock print museum. Takeshita Dori is the young, hip ped-only street, filled with boutiques and small shops with all the trendy teenager clothing. If you’ve seen the photos about Tokyo street fashion, this is where those kids are going out to be seen on the weekends.

The Ota Memorial Museum of Art houses over 12,000 ukiyo-e prints collected over Mr. Ota’s lifetime. Ukiyo-e prints were a genre of woodblock prints introduced in the Edo period. They became popular with regular people due to their affordability and subject matter, (such as kabuki actors, famous geisha, depictions of popular stories, etc).

This exhibit focused on prints of “Handsome Boys and Beautiful Men of Edo” and it’s rare to see an exhibit narrowly focused on images of men. My favorite showed a young couple trying to feed sake to a rooster, so that the bird would sleep in and they could have a longer night together. Another image depicted the conflict between Japanese yakuza, partially identified by their tattoos and weapons.

An amazing day–showing two eras of fashionable folks. Except me, I was sweaty and hot and treated myself to vending machine snacks and drinks every couple hours to keep cool.