Halloween in Shibuya Tokyo, photo essay by Ken Kavanagh
The Japanese embrace of the Halloween holiday is a recent and now hugely popular phenomena, The famous Shibuya station crossing is rumored to be the busiest pedestrian intersection on earth and the informal street party in and around its shopping streets attracted approximately 100,000 costumed revelers in 2015.
Japanese traditions often incorporate costumes and elaborate makeup (art of kimono), as does contemporary youth and popular culture (cosplay cafes); Halloween is therefore a natural extension of this interest in costume and fantasy and manifests itself in a unique and feverishly enthusiastic manner.
The Japanese concept of harmony or ‘wa’ is a strong social element typically involving conforming to a social group which in the case of Halloween is demonstrated by groups of friends choosing to dress in identical costumes, (typically from entertainment and popular culture). In a testament to the well mannered public face of Japanese society the intensely crowded and chaotic event passes almost completely without conflict or incident. (Ken kavanagh)
Q&A with Ken Kavanagh
The world is saturated in images and stories many of which are efforts to sell, convince and sometimes mislead. Photography is an opportunity for me to engage and observe the world with a clarity I lack when actually ‘participating’ in life. I am mostly interested in people and their celebrations, simple moments that might otherwise be overlooked.
Photography and writing…
Are perhaps interchangeable, we read and conjure images, we look and conjure words, both deceive or illuminate depending on the motivation of the artist, the censor and the audience.
Who has left the biggest impression on you?
W. Eugene Smith was the first photographer I discovered; Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath immortalized so much humanity and suffering in a single image that it somehow awakened me.
Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Dublin, Ireland and studied communications there, after graduating from college I relocated to the U.S where I have worked as a graphic designer in many areas and media. For the past few years I have lived more or less nomadically, traveling extensively, working remotely and occasionally taking pictures along the way.