Red light AKB
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<updated with a few pictures below>
I haven’t had internet for quite awhile since my excursions to Hakone and Kyoto. It seems Tokyo’s standard is not for all of Japan. Currently I am in Kyoto, staying at a capsule inn that was featured in Monocle quite awhile ago, called 9hours. It is so not Kyoto, and you feel like this would be placed much better in Tokyo, but anyhow.
Traveling back about a week ago, where I was still in Tokyo
I rented a bike from the Tokyo Bike store in Ueno, it is a very small, lightweight, speedy little bike that is perfect for Tokyo’s hilly landscape. I was travelling from Ueno to Akihabara, to Asakusa and then down South to Asakusabashi. In smaller streets I would tend to ride on the footpath, but there’s a big road that connects Akihabara to Asakusa, where I would just ride next to the cars.
Compared to Melbourne’s non bike friendly traffic, the cars here feels pretty docile and much secure. This is also due to the unwritten traffic law that in case of a traffic accident, the bigger vehicle would be at fault (which also applies in Indonesia). At first it does sound unfair and would attract to unruly behaviours from the lesser vehicles. Though unlike Indonesians, the group mentality of the Japanese seems to outdo any excuses to be unruly. Hence, bicycles claim a safe haven.
Big red temple, food stalls, lots of people and photo poses
Bought a bag by 6shiki here. Apparently made from vintage kuroshiki canvas. No good for rainy weather.
Then went to a little building filled with galleries and coffeshops. Not too dissimilar to say, Melbourne’s cookie/moonlight cinema building. But everything made even smaller and shorter
Saw an interesting exhibition by Taiji Matsue called ‘Survey of Time’, where there were several hi-def video installations within the space, and at first I thought they were photo stills of distant towns / landscapes. As I look into it, they are in fact videos done in real time of distant towns / landscapes, where after awhile you could see tiny dots of cars moving every now and then. Other videos include looking at alpacas munching grass or a cat crouching still in an alley (with its ears rotating around every now and again). It makes you feel as though time runs differently in each scenarios, especially if you step out into a city like Tokyo.
Rode back via Ueno park and lotus filled lake / pond, and went to an izakaya for late sake drink. A westerner and a Japanese sat next to me, and started talking about marijuana and LSD and how their lives seemed to just revolve around it. I couldn’t not listen because they’re right next to me, and it is just getting a bit too weird for me, so I quickly finished sake and edamame and went back to the inn.
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Moved to Ueno, a weird feeling of familiarity, the place doesn’t seem to change much after 2 years.. Except for the inn’s family bird pet being turned into a taxidermy!
Has got a store very near to the inn, went there to check it out. Apparently they also do bike rentals! Which is something different from your default mamachari bike you would get if you go to normal bike rentals…
They’ve got a bag range called ‘Ketch’, minimal messenger bag design, very cool and beautifully made. It is quite expensive, I’m still thinking whether to get it or not…
Electronic super shops! Maids on streets! Old school arcade games! 18+ anime galleries! Pachinko animes! Total geek wonderland!!
After wiping off my drool I went back to arts and design land and wander off to hirocoledge’s store and Chiyoda 3331 gallery.
Hirocoledge’s store was hard to find as it is unpredictably under the train tracks. Very cool though. She’s a fabric designer that does impressive visual patterns with old dyeing / printing techniques — and recreated kimonos with these as well.
Chiyoda 3331 Gallery was hard to find because I was expecting a small little gallery tucked in a rickety building in between houses, only to find that I’ve been walking past this big building with front yard and such — which looks more like a school than a galery
Went to a paid exhibition of someone I didn’t know, the exhibition was entitled ‘Why people draw pictures?’. Interesting series of honest, freehand illustrations. Very simple, at times quite tribal but I don’t know how it would work if you only see one piece at a time
Near the lobby there was this human size dinosaur that was made out of cheap little plastic toys that were all pink! Poppy Japanese culture collage!
(fyi INAX is one of the biggest bathroom/toilet suppliers in Japan) They’ve got a gallery space in Ginza, so I went in to find the whole lobby decked out in white bathroom ceramic tiles. I was almost hoping to find a gigantic toiled bowl in the middle of the room or something.
The gallery was forgettable, I think I was too distracted by the ceramic tiles
Wonderwall Archives at POLA Annex
I actually went into 100% Chocolate cafe in Ginza before going to the exhibition, as a tribute to Wonderwall. I thought that this cafe is the one where they have the famous chocolate dripping ceiling and walls… but alas I got it mixed up with another chocolate shop that Wonderwall did which was actually Godiva’s (to outdo 100% Chocolate cafe I suppose?). I had caramel chocolate mousse served with frothy hot milk. Plus a complimentary white chocolate apple flavoured… weird but free so ok for me
The exhibition itself would probably make me like Wonderwall less. The exhibition shows off 7-8 models of some of their projects, all elaborately made and finished but topped with yucky 50s American plastic figures (muscly men with Marlboro style buttoned shirts, and generously bosomed women with flowy dresses). Why???
The whole thing, like their work is very slick (except for the human figures) they even have Cornelius commisioned to do the background spatial music. The models are all made from the exterior for you to look inside the space. Intricate details, colourful sneakers / ties, door frame details, nice lighting, etc.
By that time it was just all too wanky for me, sorry.
(I think my view on this exhibition was made into a complete circle after seeing Sou Fujimoto’s exhibition ‘Forest, Mountains and Clouds’ the next day.. which is the complete opposite of Wonderwall’s…)
I thought Omotesando was scarily expensive, but this area is even scarier. I’ve never seen so many taxi ranks in one spot
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