Flower trolleys

Hana-densha (花電車, "flower [=lavishly decorated] trains/trolleys") are what happens when you let engineers and modernity loose on traditional Japanese matsuri pageantry. Tracks and electricity replace shoulders and sweat, but the aesthetics are as lurid and exuberant as ever. Here are three hana-densha postcards I picked up recently in Kamakura.

This hana-densha, entitled 慶祝 ("Joy and celebration") was created to celebrate the new National Diet Building in 1936. When all the light bulbs were shining, it was visible from space.

Something completely different stylistically: 麒麟の苑 ("Garden of the Kirin"). Why kirin? Because kirin herald the coming of a great ruler, and this hana-densha was put on rails to celebrate an Emperor's accession to the throne (大礼). I think it was probably the Shōwa emperor, but I can't say for sure. Note that there are two beasts on the float.

My third and final example is a garish return to form: 御国の榮 ("Glory of the nation"). This is Disney's Small World ride turned inside-out: you stand still while the children ride past, and instead of promoting global harmony they trumpet their own nation's dominance. Both boys are uniformed.

(Note for Googlers: This page has no information about the Boredoms' bass player's other band or the burlesque terminology [sub-note: don't believe everything WaiWai says about sex or words].)

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Matt--those things are the epitome of taste compared to the (wonderfully) gaudy things in Taiwan called dianzi huache 電子花車, which often do have strip shows and stuff on them. You know, at, um, funerals and stuff. Send the spirits off with a bang!
An awesome page of pictures here:


OK, seriously, strippers? At funerals? I definitely chose the wrong country to live in.

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