Kagura: a form of music and dance dedicated to Shinto gods.
Tokyo is a huge city - I’m the daughter of a Tokyo local so the first time I visited here I was just 6 months old. Between now and then if we add up the days, months and years it has been over 15 years in total that I have been in Japan. And yet despite the decade and a half under my belt the sprawling city has many cultural gems I have yet to explore.
When J Club TV personality Gigi suggested using Kagurazaka as the backdrop to the DJ Mo Beatz ‘Day in Japan’ episode for his ‘Beatz Blog’ Vlog series I was excited to have the opportunity to explore the area.
Smushed in between Iidabashi and Ichigaya the ‘Tokyo French quarter’ is one of the few areas where geisha sightings are fairly common place in the nation's capital.
A few KAGURAZAKA historical facts via Ms. Gigi :)
Edo period (1603 - 1868)
- Town for the Samurai class.- Kagurazaka was located just outside the outer moat of the Edo Castle and it was a prominent entertainment district, with lots of geisha houses and restaurants.
Meiji period (1868 - 1912)
- Kagurazaka developed as a commercial town and became one of the busiest towns in tokyo
- Kagurazaka is famous for its specialty stores, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, izakaya (Japanese style bars) and great French food.
I originally met DJ Mo Beatz via mutual twitter friends in 2010, since then I have had the opportunity to interview and collaborate with him for dope North American blogs such as iLuvLola.com , illroots.com and DJCity.com (Japanese version).
So when the Detroit native/LA transplant approached me about shooting for his January 2015 Tokyo tour I was really glad to have time in my schedule to experiment new visual concepts with him. We created some fantastic photos and I learned a lot about ‘catching light’ in dark alleys and never-ending hallways. You can see a few of my favorite photos on the PHOTOGRAPHY section of my website.
To avoid wasting time during his brief 3 day Tokyo stay we skyped and whatsapp-ed ahead of the trip to storyboard his Japan episode of BEATZ BLOG. This led to the decision to use a Japanese host to add local flavour to the program.
I already knew Gigi from our work together on J Club TV and felt she’d be a great fit. Turns out she’s not just a great on-camera talent but a fantastic producer as well. I am so used to ‘one man band-ing’ it - shooting, editing, producing, directing, transcribing - but with her onboard my workload was significantly lightened.
PHOTO of me and Gigi below - I am the one that is dressed very suggestively with jeans and sweatshirt. Notice all the skin I am showing at the neckline - are you looking at me in the photo? Probably not...
Not only did Gigi location hunt, research and check on closing times for our shooting spots, she even confirmed the exact time of sunset to make sure we didn’t lose valuable daylight AND she had on a fantastic outfit too!
Gigi, Mo Beatz and I met on a chilly January afternoon for a power two and half hour shoot of 5 locations:
a Shinto shine-AKAGI JINJA, a Japanese sweets shop specializing in manju - MUGIMARU2, a Buddhist temple - BISHAMONTEN ZENKOKU-JI, a tea shop - RAKUYAMA and there was even time to wander about the maze of backstreets called - HIDE AND SEEK ALLEY (かくれんぼ横丁)
Gigi did her best to teach Mo some Japanese but some place names were definitely lost in translation - 'Bishamonten' turned into 'B**ch I'm on 10!' - no disrespect intended, you have to admit it does sound that way once you check the pronunciation again. LOL
You can catch a great Behind the Scenes video of the Japanese language lesson on DJ Mo Beatz's Facebook fan page here.
The two worked great together and I am super grateful to them for braving the winter cold to complete the shoot successfully.
Check out the video on DJ Mo Beatz YouTube Page. Coming soon!
Make sure you keep up with the action of DJ Mo Beatz and Gigi via their social media links below!
DJ Mo Beatz