Bluesman of Inokashira Koen, Tokyo

Around an hour west of Tokyo is the must-see Ghibli Museum that displays the life and anime works of the great Hayao Miyazaki. Think Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away. Think colour and movement. Think tiny and gigantic.

The Ghibli is a magnificent place, for adults and children alike. While the Museum plan is the only material translated in to English, there is universal delight in looking at the tools and techniques that makes anime magical.

Another good thing? Your entry ticket is actually 3 frames from one of the Ghibli Studio’s films. Pure delight!

Instead of back-tracking to JR Mitake from the Ghibli, continue through Inokashira linear park for a few kilometres to the Inokashirakoen station where you can get on a local train through western suburbs back to Shibuya.

By doing this you will see a local legend:  the Inokashira Koen bluesman  who has been belting out tunes on a daily basis for atleast 10 years that I can find on Google.

A fantastic amplified sound drifted along the canal’s edge as I end my way from the Ghibli towards Inokashirakoen station on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon. Getting closer, was this just another band – common in the numerous parks across Tokyo on weekends?

Across the artificial lake, the strains of Creams’ Crossroads were clearly identifiable through the steel guitar, not so identifiable if you are relying on the occasional english word sung in the chorus. This sound delightfully mixed with  giggles of young couples rowing under boughs, seeking shade from the stinging sun.

And then I saw him. What a delight. Singlet and shorts as if he was from Australia. Small, lithe, and not young. Picking the age of older Japanese is always difficult – might he be 75 years old?

I felt rather awkward wanting to take a photo, as if I would interfere with his performance. So for a song or two I sat on a lakeside bench and just absorbed the atmosphere. Young children walked up to him, smiling with delight and looking back at willing parents. Nearby, a pavilion sat some 50 or so older Japanese, having tea and licking ice-creams, but keeping an eye of the performance in front of them, with the odd jab of their neighbour and pointed finger at the bluesman.

I took some video of the bluesman. I have not yet found his real name, although I have found that he has been doing his work here at Inokashira Koen for well over a decade. Maybe you know more about him.

Have a look at him on this short video. Now, my video techniques are crap. Do not judge me on the fact I actually turned the camera. You have been warned! I was overcome with the moment.

Inokashira Bluesman on You Tube

Saturday 30th July, 2011


About TonyJ2

Taking regular visitors routes but more often just where the trains or buses go. Japan leads the way.
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