Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Coming out to play on cosplay street

We didn’t just eat, eat, and eat in Tokyo and Kyoto, you know. There was much to see, and anyway, there were always going to be a few hours in between meals, yeah? ☺

Some of those were spent in Harajuku, gawking at the youngsters dressed in their best cosplay outfits strolling down Takeshita Dori… well, not quite strolling, since the street was sardine packed that Sunday. The costumes ranged from the weird to the predictable – predictable only because so much had been written about them – like the Little Bo Peep costume, and the Maid.

On the Harajuku bridge leading to the Meiji Shrine, another favourite spot to catch cosplay, quite a number of those in funky outfits seemed a little shy, preferring to stand by the side and let their audience gawk as they walked by. One Miss, though, was not going to be a wallflower (no, that’s not a costume) that day.

The Maid With The Lollipop was standing smack in the centre of human traffic, drawing a huge crowd of admirers. The moment anyone whips out a camera, Miss MWTL bends a knee and strikes a pose, and there were many with cameras! Not content with just taking a picture, most of the tourists wanted to have a picture taken, too, with our young star.

Way to get into a lot of folks’ holiday pictures!!

If you weren’t the touristy type, and were feeling a bit down walking pass the madhouse scramble, do not worry. Help was at hand, for just a little to the left of this Maid, were another group of idealistic young ones who believed tha a little TLC would go a long way to solving the world’s problems.

Yes, folks, free hugs for everyone…

I should have waylaid the two ‘customers’ (with backpacks) and asked if they felt better after the hugs. After all, these weren’t the ‘Oh hello, how are you, haven’t seen you in a while’ wrap around the shoulders with a quick release type of hugs. These were the full bodied type that people who have just broken up/quarrelled with the boss/lost a pet need; ones that usually end up in someone having a good cry, type of hug. (By the way, what’s with the black and white stripped socks? They feel prison-y.)

Anyway, our favourite guy on the bridge was The Portrait Artist (can I call him Portart, like, you know, cosplay is from costume play, and Pokemon is from Pocket Monster?).

Mr. Portart draws these small kawaii caricatures that look something like this…

(You’ll have to turn your computer screen upside down, or stand on your head, to get the right orientation.)

One subject was a young and very attractive couple, who took their place like the others, kneeling in front of Mr. Portart.

Mr. Portart picks up a brown marker, grabs a tube and squishes a bit of paint on the marker, mixing colours. He then wipes of whatever excess colour on his right thigh (talk about well-worn jeans!), all the while rocking back and forth to a funky beat bellowing out of his yellow boombox.

I love the contrast between the brown face and the girl’s blonde hair and green eyes, rendered large and innocent.

He then takes out a few more tubes of paint…

… and sprinkles a bit of blue and green sky on his canvas …

… before adding a touch of orangey, yellowy rays of the sun, peeking through. Like fairy dust. Kinda neat, huh?

Anyway, the Sunday we were there was also St. Patrick’s Day, and Omotesando was awash in green.

I think they look more ridiculous than the cosplay girls, no?

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