Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hiwatari Matsuri

Spring is finally here, and very welcome after this bitter winter. With it the plum blossoms have sprang out, the birds have returned, and the monks have come down from the mountains to walk through fire. Yes, this past weekend I went to Mount Takao for the annual Hiwatari Matsuri, Fire Walking Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to purify themselves in heat and flame and of course to watch people do crazy things like walk on burning hot coals. The festival began with a procession of monks bearing conch shell horns. Buddhists from all over Japan gathered here to cleanse their souls under the watchful guide of this mountain's Tengu, or protecting Bird/God spirit. They then showed acts of power such as the swinging of the axe and firing of the bow and then finally lit, the massive pile of pine tree boughs in the middle of the crowd. I was situated at the front for maximum photo opportunity, but as soon as the fire was lit, a heat like I have never felt before washed over me and all around men ducked and cringed against the fire's blazing power. I held my ground to take pictures of the monks hurling water onto the fire to cool it and create smoke, but was eventually forced back like all the rest. After the fire died down some, the other monks picked up the prayer stick where people have written their hopes and dreams and tossed them into the fire. The monks then raked the coals and when all the preparations had been completed, the monks walked the fire. About fifty monks in total walked the fire and when they had finished, a clear path had been made. It was then time for the crowd to join in and a line of hundreds of participants began to file up and cross the coals. With my picture taking done, I hopped in the back of the line and I too walked the fire path. All in all a truly spectacular festival and a day I will remember forever.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

New Models

Recently I have been trying to build my fashion portfolio, so I have been asking people I meet to model for me. One of the fortunate results of this was my shoot with soon to be models, Garrick and Richard, friends of my house-mate Omar. These are shot around Kichijoji area.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Photographer's Assistant

I have begun some part-time work as a photographer's assistant. His name is Ryan Bruss and he specializes in fashion photography and club/street life. We met at Glitterball, as he was the main photographer and I the backup, and now I help him when he needs an extra hand on a shoot. His photos are brilliant and I urge you to check out his website.