Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gettin' All International Over Here!

This past weekend, I traveled to the town of Iwamizawa to help volunteer for one of the coolest events on the island of Hokkaido: the Iwamizawa Mini International Festival. Run completely by JETs, English teachers, and Japanese volunteers, and sponsored by the city and various countries' tourism boards, it was a magical place of food, fun, and a whole lotta internationalization!

The event is put on for Japanese kids and their families to come out and meet foreigners, all while having fun and learning a little about their respective countries! Each kid got their own passport in which they could collect stamps from the various countries' booths:

This year, there were 10 countries represented from around the globe! Thanks to sponsors, tourism boards, embassies, and some really creative folks, the booths turned out awesome!!

Let's take a trip around the world, beginning with my favorite and yours, the U.S.A. (*whoops and hollars!*):

Represented in style:

Next, onto Jamaica, mon:


Time to meet the cheeky lasses from England:

And down to New Zealand:

Back up to Canada:

Over to Hong Kong:

Onward to Meeeeeeeexico!

And rounding off our trip down under in Oz:

For nourishment along the way, there were tacos, pizzas, foreign beers and sodas, and other tasty treats galore:

Now, this event was pretty cool to begin with, but the fact that I was the Salsa dancing instructor for the day took the awesomeness to a whole other level! Japanese people LOVE their organized and choreographed dance moves, so I got a decent turnout:

And one of my students from Sapporo even made it out with her little sister to learn some of my sweet moves!

For those less inclined to want to shake their hips, Hawaiian Hula was also taught. You HAVE to cover your dancing/music basics when there's an international festival involved:

Little Japanese kids with bookbags and there anything cuter (or more inspirational)?

It was indeed a beautiful day to take a trip around the world. We had between 250 and 300 people turn out for the event, and for many (especially the kids), it was their first time meeting and interacting with foreigners. It's so amazing to think that one little grassroots event such as this will instill a lifetime of international/intercultural interest for many of those little passport-holders that came out! Truly one of my most memorable (and, ahem, sweatiest!) times here in Japan!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hokkaido Hair Design Competition

A few weeks ago I was asked to be the photographer for my hair dresser, Rie, as she was entering the Hokkaido Hair Design Competition here in Sapporo. Her model was my Aussie friend, Samantha, who got a gorgeous head of vibrant red hair for the occasion!

We took over Earth Hair Salon in downtown Sapporo, transforming it into our own studio! The shoot lasted 6 hours (until 4:00 in the morning), but we got some fabulous shots! A few examples:

To kick off the competition, there was a fabulous lounge party held at the Cross Hotel here in town, complete with food, drinks, music, entertainment, a make-up martini bar, and Hokkaido's best hair stylists. I felt more like I was in a hip club in New York, rather than here in Sapps:

Sometimes you just gotta get away from everything for some sweet bathroom self-portrait shots! Love that mixed-lighting:

The Dream Team:

Finally, all of the entrants' photos (including our own) were on display at the tres urban CAI02 Art Gallery downtown. I guess this can technically be my first gallery showing here in Japan, so that's pretty cool:

So, there's nothing like a bit of fashion photography to keep me in gear in between festivals, parties, and a little traveling! It's a world I've yet to completely delve into, but this little sampling was quite fun. Yet another one of those crazy experiences to check off from my time here in Japan!