Steam Garden vol. 2 Transports Tokyo with Wa-Steampunk Fusion
On July 28steampunk fans took a time trip back to Meiji era Japan circa 1897 organized by the Tokyo Steampunk Society and captained by Kenny Creation. The second Steam Garden event was held in Shibuya’s Trump Room, a multi-floor venue that solved the previous event’s crowding problem and allowed space for vendors, performers, and the elaborately dressed patrons.
The event contained a blend of Japanese style and turn-of-the-century sensibility, with music that included ethnic-infused dubstep and rock shamisen. Japanese snacks were laid out and the absinthe flowed freely as attendees indulged in drinks and hookah courtesy of Tokyo establishments. There were enough gadgets and gears to furnish a factory as everyone showed off their own take on Meiji-steampunk with alternate-history military officers, sword-toting samurai, and mad scientists aplenty.
The shows were a mix of music and performance with the first act of the night beign dancing clockwork marionettes accompanied by DJ Chaos. Parading out in butterfly and rose patterned robes like Japanese courtesans, the dancers snapped their hips and swirled in unison in an impressive belly dancing display. Later, the dolls returned in bustle-skirted belly dance costumes to give the audience a taste of burlesque and Victorian sex appeal with a little shimmy and can-can.
The fashion show displayed some of Kenny Creation’s Japanese steampunk designs including a student in hakama with googles and cannisters strapped to his back and a kimono in white and peach with a clockwork pattern paired with a wide-brimmed had that was a perfect fusion of east and west. A mysterious warrior in a leather cape and a lady-samurai in a bandage top and bare shoulders drew their swords to square off, showing off the clothing in motion.
The sword action continued with a show featuring members of the sword performance group Karitasu Ideal. Cool and groovy shamisen and guitar set the rhythm as the performers skillfully twirled with swords, parasols, and scarves, even donning unsettling fox-spirit masks for a routine that ended in dramatic suicide. It wasn’t only the performers who were dramatic, however and awards were given for the best steampunk coordinate and the best Meiji coordinate. The former was won by a girl dressed as a cavalry officer in an impressive hand-made leather uniform and the later by a girl in hakama with a backpack made from a real wooden clock. The final performer, Japanese calligrapher Miho, brought with her a touch of culture. Writing first in small, delicate characters on a paper larger than she was then painting over it in broad strokes, she wrote a message of love that she finished by lightly blowing gold dust onto the artwork.
By combining Japanese history with the steampunk aesthetic, the second Steam Garden was a creative and visually impressive event with more variety and class than your typical subculture gathering. In the morning, everyone was safely returned to the year 2012 though bubbling with anticipation to ride the Tokyo Steampunk Society’s airship again and take another trip to a steam-powered past.
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