For those who have been following my Instagram, these pictures might ring a bell. In the meantime it's almost been a month since I went to Dussedorf (Germany) to visit "Japan Tag". While juggling with uni work and procrastination, I figured it should be time to ramble and shutterspam you guys again.
Every time I look a the above collage, it draws a smile on my face, because these people remind me of a creative and daring part of humanity which I admire. Whether it's behind a mask or beneath layers of make-up, all of these people decided to shed their faces from their every-day lives and be frivolous once again. It's a mentality that's hard to come by these days despite of hipster culture invading our social media feeds.
What sets these people apart is their dedication and passion to turn the pavements into their theater. I can imagine some must've taken weeks to only make or gather their costumes. Also, Dusseldorf was scorching hot and crowded that day, yet these people walked around for a whole day in sweaty costumes and heavy weapons, smiling at clueless wanderers that kept snapping photos of them:
When I came to Germany, I really didn't expect much of my day: I mostly hoped for typical street vendors with Japanese goodies that would tickle my tastebuds. No Japan day without onigiri or octopus balls, of course. Some origami and cute fluffiness would do too, just to finish the stereotype.
I found myself pleasantly surprised by enthusiasm of the people there: insane queues to try out kimonos, or a whole German crowd clapping for a Japanese band. It's something I still can't quite imagine in the Netherlands. After all, alternative culture has quite a history in Germany, sometimes with influences from the Japanese, but also with its own unique style. Compare the amount of well-known alternative bands in Germany to those in the Netherlands and you'll know.
In the end, I must say that the immense crowd did take away from the overall atmosphere at the festival. Especially with the heat, it was hard to be enthusiastic about standing in a long line for some mocha. Again, kudos to those wearing costumes. They certainly made the day worth-while, not only for their aesthetic value but also the vibe that they created: free hugs, smiles and a healthy amount of lunacy. At one point people stood in a line that must've spanned at least 50 meters, ready to give free hugs. I'm not sure what it is about this trend and I personally still feel no need to hug strangers, but it's always a beautiful thing to see these kind of interactions going on in real life.
People aside, of course I found myself enjoying the scenery as well. That day, the center of Dusseldorf consisted of lush greens, pretty blues and classical browns... like a typical European city most overseas foreigners must have derived from cinematic impressions. Of course, industrialism has had its influences that might give Dusseldorf the impression of being less cosy and small-scaled than cities such as Delft, but that's almost inevitable nowadays.
Overall, it was a tiring and sweaty day, but it also made me feel accomplished in a way. Not only did I manage to experiment more with my photography; but by allowing myself to go abroad in between project work I also managed to take things easy and be frivolous again. I might not have gone in costume but if there's one thing I learnt during my graduation project it is that we all need to stop cycling in our minds and enjoy the scenery sometimes.
We all have our own way of compartmentalizing our self-defined lunacy; there's always a struggle between responsibilities and desires, or social acceptation and individualism. I am not sure if it's healthy to keep our inner anti-poles apart, or whether it's possible to merge them, but it's always too easy to let the socially responsible overrule our minds. Of course most occasions in life require seriousness, I have found myself guilty of being called a "cool-cat" due to my silence or seriousness. To each their growth zones: to me it's allowing myself to lazy in the sun, to others it's making themselves more notable through their appearance, or perhaps it could be something as simple (or difficult) as being more easy on ourselves.
Speaking of the latter, it's a Monday, and due to my graduation project I find myself dreading each new week more and more as the deadlines force me to be more critical towards myself. Let's beat Monday blues and start this week with a blast (fireworks from Japan day, to be exact).