Posts tagged with “ueno”

Ueno / Sunlight / Defunct escalator

I just edited my navigation (again) so I can have bigger images.. hmm. 

<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

Tokyo Bike

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

people inhaling secondhand incense stick smoke for goodluck

Tokyo Wheels
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.

Monday 1.11.2010
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!

Tokyo Bike
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

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!

INAX Gallery
(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

I’m not whingy, but this pillow that they gave me are just the wrong kind as I woke up constantly with a slight back pain that normally grows to a headache. I know it’s Japanese so it must be made from something that is supposed to be right and good for you, like little bits of stones that massages your head or something. Anyway tonight I will try a seat pillow instead.

— My trip 2 years ago was spent mostly staying at Ueno area which I loved dearly. It doesn’t even feel like Tokyo at times, the people seem to be nicer even! There was this anonymous old lady that gave us an umbrella when it was raining, which was a beautiful surprise
— From where I stay currently it is about an hour to go to Ueno (well 30 or 40 minutes supposedly, if I didn’t muck up my train choices)
— I went past Ueno park, and a few museums where there were lots of local/foreign tourists + groups of school kids doing their field trip
— it’s cute how each of them bring their own picnic canvas, and lay it on the ground and form a bigger picnic circle with their friends
— I still like this area, much more than where I stay currently
— Went to SCAI the bathhouse, a gallery that used to be a bathhouse
— The exhibition that was on was Kohei Nawa’s Synthesis
— (I tried explaining it here, but it’s a bit hard — it’s kind of like this organic sculptural glass pieces, that grows off a deer trophy head…)

— was at nearby Kayobo Coffee
— another one of those modern/contemporary/quaint little Japanese coffeeshops that serves tight lunch sets and good coffee — which is totally cool
— And of course it houses only 10 people, had to wait outside for awhile (yes outside)
— Ordered Lunch set A with hottoo koohii, hayashi rice + salad. I’m not sure what the difference between hayashi rice and kare rice is, but they are both worth it

— From leafy ueno to ginza bling bling
— to see Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition at Gallery Koyanagi
— I’m not sure what it is about Japanese maps or gallery spaces or me, but I would always have to get lost before finding a designated art/design space
— After asking a sales person, and going around the block I finally found the space, which looks more like a collins street office building than a building that houses cool galleries, but seems to be the pattern here in tokyo
— (the good thing about getting lost is that, i found out wonderwall is having an exhibition at another building a few blocks down, opens in friday)
— The exhibition itself was overrated, Olafur (or Eliasson) only installed a bunch of coloured lights in one room, and a bunch of white lights on the other — to do his well-known trick to create a bunch of overlaying shadows, either multicoloured or just monotone

— Went to Otoya whilst waiting for the rain to die down
— It is stationery heaven, I should not go in there ever again
— Went around and saw a few smaller galleries here and there
— Got into H&M, saw this amazing coat on sale for about $40, but how do I even pack a coat in my little luggage?? A thought of posting them came across, but that would not be a cheap coat anymore

— was at a small udon place that has a stand around table
— ordered udon + rice for Y500 it was awesomely simple meal that made me somewhat happy

Running on The Default Network
by Boyce