Japanese Festival Essays

Japanese Festival Essays-41
I think a part of me didn't feel connected to or somehow "Japanese" enough to celebrate it.

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A large shrine gate, said to be the largest in Japan, towers over the main road to Izumo Taisha and welcomes visitors to the area.

Izumo Taisha is easily accessible by car, bus, or train, and the area around the shrine bustles with tourists and visitors to the shrine, especially on the weekends.

I watched with interest as an older Japanese woman layered me in sheer cotton robes, followed by my bespoke peach silk creation and green — what I was told was an emerging trend among young Japanese women — and wispy, face-framing pieces that didn't fight my natural texture.

What I've learned not only as I've gotten older is that just because I'm half-Asian doesn't mean I half-belong to my culture, or can't feel as "Japanese" as anyone else from there.

In that last image of me with the red backdrop, I'm wearing a kimono I received as a gift from my great-aunt when I turned 20.

Unlike the photos from when I was seven, I enjoyed every minute of this shoot.

It is also where, every year at the Kami-mukae-sai, all of the gods from around Japan are welcomed to Izumo Taisha, and the procession back to Izumo Taisha from the beach follows a path through town along the Kami Mukae Road.

Most people don't assume that I'm Japanese.

But it's still a surprise to people nearly every time I tell them my ethnicity.

Growing up, I struggled with feeling "pretty" compared to my white friends.

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