The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Burning dolls

Sounds like a rock song doesn`t it? And today had a music connection. I went to Ueno in central Tokyo to the Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple to photograph a small matsuri called Ningyo Kuyo. Basically it is a doll burning festival when old dolls are blessed and then ceremonally burnt.  Not that ceremonally as it turned out; the bonfire of kimono clad dolls was not at all photogenic being basically a rusted metal incinerator temporarily placed on the tarmac of the temple grounds. It did attract a couple of TV crews though, one from England`s ITV who had as a presenter the one and only Kelly Osbourne.
They had the sort of access that photographers dream of. At one point after shooting images all over the places I was not allowed to go the cameraman was informed by their fixer that the ceremony of the blessing was about to start. He replied “Tell them to wait, I need some water.”  I can`t decide if that is massively culturally insensitive or a true reflection of the power of television.

Miss Osbourne was, contrary to her on-screen persona, quiet, respectful and professional throughout; she even made an offering of a doll to be burnt. I was quite impressed that she didn`t put on any airs and graces. Having seen British TV presenters  being really quite useless in other places around the world and thinking themselves much more important than they are Miss Osbourne seemed, in the 30 minutes or so she was around, to very down to earth. At one point she was stood next to one of Ueno Park`s many homeless men watching the matsuri, she neither moved away or showed any inpolite reaction to his raggedness and possibly smell. It would have made a good picture but I thought perhaps that wouldn`t be polite.



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  1. Pingback: You`re fired! «

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