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The final item in this History of my Archive in 10 Objects found in my father's loft are two sketchbooks from my earliest days in Japan in 1987.
Just after I arrived in Tokyo in January 1987 I bought a number sketchbooks of various sizes and spent a lot of the first year in particular being the sketching tourist, drawing, painting and photographing downtown Tokyo, the people around me, the whole experience of being in Japan. I didn't think any sketchbooks from early days in Japan had survived, I had a series of major purges for one reason or another over the 21 years I was there, the biggest down-size being at the very end when I left most of my belongings behind and threw away much of my commercial illustration artwork.
These two sketchbooks survived because I brought them back from Japan in the early '90's after buying a house in London, they stayed there until I later gave up the house, then found their way with a few other items to my dad's loft.
Iidabashi, 6th May 1987. This old building stood near the West exit of the station (the Kagurazaka side), and was I believe demolished in the early '90's development of the area. pen & ink.
Street vendor's cart, Yotsuya, 6th May 1987. pen & ink
There are so many memories wrapped up in these pages, that first year in Tokyo was a roller-coaster of experiences - I had a sponsor when I first arrived in the country, they had no real work for me but nevertheless required me to sit in their dingy downtown office every day, doing literally nothing except breathe in the permament fog of tobacco smoke (I was a non-smoker) and hope the editor would come back to the office and give me permission to go out. Initial joy at being in Tokyo was soon replaced by deep unhappiness, after six frustrating months of this our relationship finally unravelled, and I was out on my own in Shitamachi, free but penniless, fraught with fear over the future. These two sketchbooks cover that period.
The office, waiting for permission to leave, 17th June 1987. ballpen
Because I was under-employed (and yet tightly under the watchful eye of the sponsor), I leaped on any opportunity to slip out of the nicotine stained office in Iidabashi and study Japanese in the quiet of the British Council building, or go walk-about in downtown Tokyo. When I eventually found my own place to rent in Yanaka and parted company with the sponsor these sketchbooks were both a comfort and way to come to terms with Tokyo, it's architecture, atmosphere, details, all things that would serve me well later on.
Roppongi, 18th April 1987, ballpen
On the Hibiya Line, 8th October 1987. ballpen
So these drawings were at a point of change for me, initially a creative escape from my sponsor's office, they then became a comfort when I was on my own in Yanaka, it was a time just before things started to move for me, so looking back at them now brings a mixture of nostalgia and vivid memories of the turmoil I was in then.
Mishima village near Sendai, painted during a volunteer weekend with UNICEF, Summer 1987. watercolour
With these drawings I come to the end of the 10 pieces from my archives. Discovering all of these things in my late father's loft has made me very contemplative about my current position in life, especially after his passing. If there's any lesson looking through these old archive things has taught me, it's that change is generally good, and provided you keep moving forward, things will most definitely get better!
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In the Preface to their new book A Guide to The SIAC Arbitration Rules, authors Mark Mangan, Lucy Reed and John Choong observe that:
“the [Singapore International Arbitration] Centre is now well-established as a regional leader and the SIAC Rules are among the most popular globally…the authors are all leaders in Asia, including Lin Hoe, Nathaniel Khng, Zara Shafruddin, and Darius Chan in Singapore; Yong Wei Chan and Judy Fu in Hong Kong;…and Nicholas Lingard in Tokyo”
Their observation highlights the importance of Asia both as a centre for international arbitration, and generally for commerce and the practice of commercial law in the 21st century. This underlines the relevance of the 2014 annual meeting of the International Bar Association in Tokyo which, as Michael J Reynolds in his programme to the conference states:
“We will be celebrating the importance of lawyers in Asia and the role they are playing in building the relationships between Asia and the rest of the world. Tokyo will also be a delight to discover, from the finest foods to compelling history, and will provide a rich cultural experience for everyone.”
The first annual meeting held in Asia for seven years, IBA 2014 presents a unique opportunity for colleagues, practitioners and law specialists to meet each other and make personal contact, face to face, many for the first time. Below, we aim to provide some useful information for both new attendees and seasoned delegates to the IBA Annual Meeting.
Over 5,000 delegates from more than 100 jurisdictions over the globe will convene at the Tokyo International Forum from 19-24 October at the International Bar Association’s Annual Meeting. The conference will feature six days of over 180 working sessions and over 60 official IBA social functions. The programme naturally features a special focus on Asian legal practice, including sessions on corporate social responsibility in Asia, Corporate and M&A Law in Asia: inbound and outbound challenges and a Master class on using courtroom litigation to support arbitration in Asia
Tokyo is an excellent gateway to Asia. Often thought of as a city, Tokyo is officially governed as a “metropolitan prefecture”, which combines elements of both a city and a prefecture; a characteristic which is unique to Tokyo. Located in the Kantō region, and placed on the southeastern side of the main island Honshu Tokyo also includes the Izu and Ogasawara Islands. Ranked fourth among global cities by A.T. Kearney’s 2012 Global Cities Index, Tokyo is an attractive destination for this year’s Annual Meeting.
If you would like to know what’s available to fill your time outside your sessions, take a look at the following conference-related events:
Sunday 19 October: Opening ceremony. 6pm – 7.30pm, Welcome party 7.30pm-10.30pm, Auditorium, Tokyo International Forum
This year’s welcome party takes place in the iconic Glass Building which represents the very modern side of Japan and rated 3* by the Michelin Green Guide to Japan. The building reflects Japan’s mix of modern and traditional, offering delegates the opportunity to experience an energetic festival with traditional food, drink and entertainment.
Tuesday 21th October: 2pm-3pm, Meet Oxford author John Choong, author of A Guide to The SIAC Arbitration Rules
From 2pm – 3pm you can meet John Choong, at the Oxford University Press booths #16 and 17, who will be signing copies of his new title A Guide to The SIAC Arbitration Rules.
Wednesday 22 October Afternoon – IBA football match
The IBA ‘World Cup’ football match is a key part of the conference programme. 12 years after Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, it now hosts the annual IBA match. Transport and other arrangements will be confirmed nearer the time and emailed to delegates who register an interest. All spectators are welcome.
Friday 24 October 7.30pm – 10.30pm, – Closing party, Happo-en
Happo-en is ‘garden of eight views’ and the closing party will be held in the grounds and buildings of this classic and beautiful Japanese garden. Constructed to be perfect from all angles, within this hidden gem of Tokyo you can wander at will and encounter some of the classical and historic art of Japan, including ancient Bonsai trees and stone lanterns together with live music and traditional performances.
Also, here are a few tips on what to expect when you get to Tokyo:
The weather in Tokyo in October will be mild. Expect temperatures to reach between 21-22 degrees Celsius, 69-71 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are eight restaurants at the Tokyo International Forum, including Takara which serves local and regional cuisine, including Sukiyaki (Japanese Beef Hot Pot) and Kaisendon (Sushi Rice Bowl), and Kurobuta-gekijo Hibiki, which specializes in local specialty foods of Kawagoe city, featuring dishes such as pork shabu-shabu and Yakiton (grilled pork skewers).
You find can find details of the layout of the Tokyo International Forum here.
If you are lucky enough to be joining us in Tokyo, don’t forget to visit Oxford University Press at booth numbers 16 and 17 where you can browse our award-winning books, pick up a sample copy of one of our professional law journals, or get a free demonstration of one of our online services including Oxford Legal Research Library: International Commercial Arbitration and International Commercial Law.
The greatest hamburger-themed stickers Disney has ever produced.
Delicious izakaya in Tokyo with Merrick, Leo & KB. My favorite dishes were the kimchi udon pasta & the tofu cheesecake. YUM.
Gion Kitana, as recommended by Tara (formerly) of Sweet Breams. Make sure you get the dekitate, their fresh ice cream. So good.
Yakisoba at Mizuno, Osaka. Their okonomiyaki is out of this world. I discovered the restaurant by following two people in Osaka who seemed to be on a mission to eat. I do that when I travel. Not creepy.
Sushidai in Tokyo.
Matcha green tea paste at Ippodo Tea, recommended by Yoko of Homako.
Kaboucha fried goodness.
Thanks to the lovely friends who sent suggestions and made our trip that much more delicious and delightful. Special shout to Merrick for housing KB & me, and teaching us some key Japanese words. Good host. Arigatou gozaimasu.
I've just returned from five heady weeks in Tokyo, soaking up life back in the old metropolis, the place I lived for nearly half my life. Every year daughter and I go back to Japan, usually in the summer, every year we return with new and unique experiences, the only constant being the humidity and the constant murmur of cicadas, though this year there were several unseasonably cool spells amidst the swelter.
It's wonderful to explore familiar locations, see old friends and family, but I also had a very busy schedule of preparation, culminating in a ten day solo exhibition at Space Yui in Aoyama, followed by another seven day show (currently still running as I write) at Yui Garden in Yokohama.
The front porch of Space Yui
No matter how many years go by my fascination with Tokyo remains undiminished, I try to be as busy as I can when we go back, it's a city that demands purpose and direction. As I no longer live in Japan I find that without such direction and with daughter mostly staying with her grandparents I start to feel an emptiness, ponder too deeply on the past and other topics best left alone. No, move on, on, always onwards! Like the city itself, my relationship with Tokyo is constantly evolving, the journey continues.
Hanging day at Space Yui with gallery owner Hideyo Kimura
It's been busy, inspiring and very encouraging. The exhibition, still on at Yui Garden, centres around original artwork from my recent picture book Stone Giant (Ishi no Kyojin in Japanese), from which visitors can order Neograph prints (giclée art prints overprinted with a fine silkscreen to prevent oxidation and deterioration ofcolour, rendering prints that are virtually indistinguishable from artwork). I also created several smaller pieces of original art specifically for the show.
Book of prints, and artwork from Stone Giant
Some of the smaller images created especially for the show
Wolves in the Forest
The gallery staff have been supportive beyond measure, Space Yui is a key part of my platform in Japan, the care and encouragement I receive there is inspiriting and progressive, all credit due to Kimura-san and her team.
Opening party, with guests including Komine Shoten editor Tsuyoshi Yamagishi (left) and picture book creator Satoshi Kitamura (right)
Opening party - with Togo Kasahara, designer Hiroyasu Murofushi (I & I Inc) and Takeshi Fujisaki
Opening party, with illustrator Satoshi Kitamura (background), curator Taiko Nakazawa, Tomoe Furuhashi and DJ Young Richard
The show at Space Yui began with a busy opening followed by a regular stream of visitors, I was quite overwhelmed by the large number of attendees. Signed copies of the Japanese edition of Stone Giant (Ishi no Kyojin) sold out within the first few days and had to be re-stocked by publisher Komine Shoten.
Signed copies of the Japanese edition Ishi no Kyojin
There were several highlight successes, the biggest being news of several competing offers for the Japanese rights to my next US book Crinkle, Crackle, Crack!. Written by Marion Dane Bauer (who also wrote the 2012 released Halloween Forest), the US edition is due for publication through Holiday House next year. I'll post more about the Japanese edition when details have been confirmed.
With art director Susumu Yamada (Tokyo Planet Design)
With members of SCBWI Japan
With Emi Noguchi
With my daughter and photographer Hitoshi Iwakiri
The exhibition is now on at the fabulous new gallery Yui Garden in Nakamachidai, Yokohama. In a building created by and for an architect's design office that overlooks Seseragi Park, the setting, interior and atmosphere is simply exquisite. If you're in the area before it closes on the 8th please do drop by.
Entrance to Yui Garden
The show at Yui Garden
It's been a wonderful summer. Many thanks to all the gallery staff and visitors to the exhibition!
Over the summer in Tokyo I filled a sketchbook with pen drawings. I always sketch a lot when I'm in Japan, but it was particularly so on this trip, perhaps I was driven by the shear joy of being back in the city, it was as if something had been unlocked.
Some of these drawings were the kind of fantasy ideas and escapist shenanigans I regularly doodle. One or two were observed sketches inside restaurants...
Gonpachi Soba-ya, Azamino, Yokohama. 3rd Aug
But a very large number were observed drawings of people on trains, especially the Denentoshi line, which runs from Chuo-Rinkan through the northern Yokohama suburbs, across the Tama river into Shibuya, from where it continues through the middle of Tokyo as the Hanzomon line.
It's a long, snaking line and very busy, on the evening trains out of Tokyo to the suburbs its very difficult to find a seat nowadays, even outside the peak times. Compared to a few years ago the passenger dip between the rush hour and the late trains has become much shallower, there's very little difference between 7pm and 9pm. Waiting for a later train might be fractionally less crowded, but it still doesn't mean you'll be able to sit down.
Thus, many of my sketching chances were on journeys into town at midday, often on the slower local trains.
Whenever opportunity allowed, I'd commandeer a seat and discretely draw those around me in my small pocket sketchbook. Curiously, despite standing out like a sore thumb as the only non-Japanese on the carriage, few people ever noticed that I was drawing, and I'm pretty certain none of the subjects were ever aware.
I think this is because many commuters simply shut off when they're on the train, they close their eyes in either real or feigned sleep, or fix their gaze on smart phones.
People effectively wrap themselves in their own worlds, oblivious to the rest of what goes on in the carriage. It's a gift of the Japanese commuter to be able to do this, perhaps due to the nature of Tokyo itself - in the neon drenched street of the urban centres so much is going on around, the noise, the flashing kanban, most people develop a selective awareness of the environment around them - they filter out the unwanted "noise" of the city, and thus preserve their sanity.
There is an art to survival in the metropolis - people concern themselves with details that interest them and are able to largely ignore the rest, train journeys can be meditative affairs, and if you want to escape entirely technology provides you with music, game apps or a read.
So I'm able to blithely sketch away on Tokyo trains undisturbed in a way I'd find difficult in the UK, not least because my train journeys in the UK are much rarer, with seat layouts that make it difficult to draw other passengers. Tokyo trains, with seats facing opposite, are the perfect life drawing class.
Another thing I noticed during this trip though, compared to former years - the poses are largely the same. In the past people would read books, talk, or whatever. Now, almost everyone who gets a seat on Tokyo trains does exactly the same thing - they sit, bag on knee, smart phone in hand, headphones in ears, and close their eyes.
My task is to unlock their thoughts and character through a lightning sketch, before they move or are blocked from view. It's one of the exciting things about sketching people on trains, the knowledge that you might only have a few fleeting minutes of opportunity.
I'm back from Tokyo!!! It was an absolutely amazing trip...I don't even know where to start. I will concentrate on the wonderful art and design graphics that I saw-which is everywhere and absolute eye candy. One of the reasons for the visit was to attend Design Festa, which is a twice-a-year art event that is held in Tokyo. Many artists, illustrators, and designers get together in a huge space to show off their work. I originally found out about this show through Spadazzle- an artist I met online a few years ago that now lives in Japan. And we finally got to meet in person! (Thank you, Sarah!)
I wish I took more pics from the event. Here is a few that I got:
Amazing cut paper and pop-ups:www.atelier-coco.com This booth was super crowded, I wanted to go back to buy something, but I didn't end up getting a chance.
Storm Machine Graphics- Wow. I saw them at Design Festa and their table was absolutely amazing. My first thought was- "this is branding at its finest!" (My business side comes out!) They had so many merchandise but all the colors went together and I was just trying to absorb and learn from it. The ABC book is only about 3.75" x 3.75" with a cloth cover. They are probably my favorite find out of my whole trip. Check out their website!
Donut guy cup and "saucer"-those of you who may come to know my tastes probably know why I went nuts over this little guy, and only for 1000 yen! Another purchase from Design Festa but unfortunately I don't have information on the artist, I believe she was from Korea. (Lesson learned- put your name on EVERYTHING that you do!)
Cute creature in "Terrarium"-I believe the artist was there in part of a collective; there was a slight panic when they realized I didn't speak Japanese and they were trying to find someone who spoke English..it was actually quite endearing! There were a bunch of different creatures in bottles all together and it was very striking, so I had to adopt one.
Happy Birthday Pop-Up book from Sanrio Greetings- This mini book came with an envelope so you can send it out. I bought it at Itoya, a stationery store that is all over the place.
7 Comments on Inspiration from Tokyo- Part 2, last added: 6/2/2010
One of the reasons why I love Japan is that there are illustrations everywhere. I mean, EVERYWHERE. It is not afraid of cute. It is a country where grown men have cute charms on their cell phones and its not a big deal.
Some fun graphics from the streets:
Even on drinks:
These toy packaging caught my eye- I love the design and illustrations on these:
and last but not least...
This is the ryokan (Japanese style inn) we stayed at in Tokyo (in Ueno.) I can not rave more about this place. We didn't want to stay in a generic western style hotel in the middle of a touristy area..so if you are a bit more adventurous, I highly recommend staying at Sawanoya Ryokan. It is family run and foreigner friendly...and possibly on the quaintest little street ever. We slept on futons and took baths in the gorgeous onsen (Japanese style bath) over looking a garden. It was inexpensive and Sawa-san and his family are great hosts.
I'm back in Tokyo for the summer, catching up with things here, seeing family, friends and colleagues etc. It's been a strange experience. 18 months have passed since my last visit to these shores, the longest I've ever been away from Japan, so it took a while to get back in the swing of things. At first everything felt completely surreal, it's a city I know so well yet somehow felt detached from. Memories haunted me for days, the sense of loss, not only of my darling wife (whose grave we visited last week), but my whole 21 year existence here. I missed a sense of purpose for being here, alone, re-kindling old memories, searching for something always slightly beyond my grasp.
These feelings eventually subsided after several days marching around the streets of Tokyo under the humid heat, chasing summer bargains (though with the £=¥ exchange rate now there are no real bargains!), visiting old places etc, bemoaning the disappearance of various favorite shops and restaurants. The heat has been a great equaliser - it takes all your mental energy just to get through the day. Oh yes, tis a corker of a summer here, midday can be completely debilitating, but evenings are wonderfully fresh.
Call me mad, but I must be one of the few people who actually like the Japanese summer. The buzz of the cicadas, the matsuri's, the fireworks, these are some of the key elements to Japan for me, I wouldn't miss them for the world. I carry a sensu around with me all day like a badge to show I'm here, in Tokyo, and proud, for the duration of the sauna weeks.
All in all I am enjoying myself immensely, its very very good to be back.
Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara has targeted manga comic books with a new ordinance, creating stricter regulations for both live action and manga products. Other regional governments in Japan are considering similar policies.
The New York Times reports: “One particularly big target is manga comic books that depict pubescent girls in sexual acts. It a lucrative segment of the $5.5 billion industry for manga … The new Tokyo law, which applies to anyone under 18, bans the sale of comics and other works — including novels, DVDs and video games — that depict sexual or violent acts that would violate Japan’s national penal code, as well as sex involving anyone under age 18. ”
Japanese publishers, lawyers, and manga artists will fight the ordinance. Ten publishers, including Japan’s largest publishing company Kodansha, intend to boycott the Tokyo International Anime Fair in protest–arguing that the law hinders free speech. What do you think?
Last week we received a message from Miki Matoba, Director of Global Academic Business at OUP Tokyo, confirming that her staff is safe and well. This was a relief to hear, and also a reminder that although many of us are tied to the people of Japan in some way, our perspective of the human impact is relatively small. So I asked Miki if she wouldn’t mind sharing some of her experiences, and she kindly agreed. When she responded to my questions she wrote: “Hope my answers reflect a part of how we view the incidents as Japanese.”
1.) Where were you, and what were your thoughts as the earthquake hit?
I was in a meeting room with a visitor from OUP Oxford and my staff having a meeting when the earthquake started. You may find this weird but we all are very much living with earthquakes from a young age. So little shakes here and there are just a part of our lives. But not the one we had last Friday as that was the biggest one in some hundreds of years. What I normally think when earthquakes start is when shall I get up to secure the exit and go under the desk. Most of the time, you do not have to do either as it does not last long. But not this time. As the building started to shake for a while I opened the door of the meeting room thinking that this is a big one but should stop soon. But it did not. So we put ourselves under the table hoping for the shaking to cease. When it did not, I thought then that this is a serious one and something really severe will happen as a result.
Then we saw some white stuff coming down in the office (it was not fire – just some dust coming down from the ceiling) and someone shouted that we should leave NOW. So we did. I did not take anything. Just myself and those who were meeting with me, running down from 8th floor to the ground. Even when we were running down the stairs, it was still shaking. After a while, we went back to the office to get things as the decision was made very quickly to close the office for that day. Almost everything on my desk had either fallen over or was on the floor, and it was still shaking.
2.) Was anyone prepared?
Yes and no. As Japanese, we all are prepared for earthquakes but not for something of this size and the aftermath of it.
3.) How do you continue to manage your group at such a difficult time? Is it possible to work?
Try to communicate well. We email and also have set up an internal Twitter account that we tweet to, including who will go into the office and what they are doing as we are still mainly working from home. The situation is still very unsettling making it difficult to concentrate on work (power rationing, aftershocks and the nuclear power plant situation) but we try to process day-to-day things as usual.
4.) How would you describe the city right now (the business activity, the state of mind)?
Interesting question. I think Tokyo is normally one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Now the city is very quiet compared to normal. The weather has been clear and nice after Friday so it feels odd to be in this peaceful, quiet Tokyo under the sun after all that.
5.) I’ve heard radiation levels are higher than normal – is everyone staying inside?
We have lots of information going around including rumors. We live almost as normal – just listening to TV and radio all the time, watching the progress of the nuclear plant situation. I do not go out if that can be avoided.
As some may know, I'm back in Tokyo all through the summer, to organise an exhibition (more on that shortly), run a workshop for SCBWI Tokyo on the 19th, see as many old friendly faces as possible, and basically to just re-connect with my former home of 21 years.
It's very good to be back, even though school holidays dictate daughter and I are here at the hottest time of year. Most people here can't understand why I would want to come back to Japan while the Olympics are on in London, and in this heat. Fortunately I love the Japanese summer. There's a unique ambience to the city at this time of year, things slow down, less bustle, more time for contemplation.
Last night I dreamed that Tokyo was like an ice cream slowly melting in the heat. In reality it's not exactly as cool as ice cream, and it's the people who feel melted, not the city.
I always have a lot to contemplate when I come back here, most of it connected to the sudden death of my wife in 2007 and subsequent decision to return to the UK. Maki's presence is always with me, but never more so than when I tread the familiar streets of Tokyo. The comfort of intimate knowledge here pulls me back. This still feels like home, it's like an old familiar musical instrument that you can just lose yourself in, make beautiful sounds with. I don't feel the same connection with anywhere in the UK, even after 5 years back there. It's definitely time to move on from the past and become more enthusiastic with life in England.
It's been 2 years since I was in Tokyo last, this has been the longest time away from Japan since I lived here. Some things have changed, superficially the shops in Shibuya and other places, but still it's the same old city. One thing that has surprised me is the invisibility of the Tsunami and Fukushima in Tokyo. Outside the under-reported demos, Tokyo just carries on as it always has, last years' disaster is almost completely invisible. Such stoicism and willingness to "stay calm and carry on " is both reassuring and worrying. People are willing enough to relate their memories of the earthquake, but no-one generally talks about the ongoing problem of Fukushima. There's a sense of resignment, of helpless resentment in the face of challenges. The government has never listened much to the wishes of the people in the past, so the mechanism for effective dissent is underdeveloped, there are plenty of opinions, but most people stay on the wings. There is much talk of the nuclear issue of course, yesterday was the anniversary of Hiroshima, there was much on the TV, some comparisons with Nuclear energy in Japan today. The media is covering the issues to a point.
But generally, life just carries on as it always has. Hot, sultry, vibrant and determined. If Tokyo melts it won't be due to sunshine. Despite the mixed emotions and loneliness coming back here I'm enjoying Tokyo immensely, though I am missing the euphoria of the London Olympics a bit. Unless you watch things live (late at night) Japanese TV only shows the progress of Japanese athletes, so I've only seen snippets of the Olympics. Oh well, can't have everything.
I'm finally back home after a successful show at Space Yui in Tokyo.
Japan was wonderful for both daughter and myself, though it was very much a 'working holiday' for me. For the first month I was largely focused on meeting deadlines, producing work for the show and other such business, so not so many opportunities for socialising and enjoying the summer break. However the hard work was all worthwhile in the end, the exhibition at Space Yui was a tremendous success. My deepest thanks to Kimura-san and all the other staff at the gallery.
Setting up the show in the gallery (photo courtesy of Space Yui)
In addition to the artwork from 'Jack to Mame no Ki', limited edition prints and the original images drawn for the show, Space Yui also produced some T-Shirts from the unfinished artwork to my next book The Stone Giant. Although the artwork is yet to be painted in colour I had some scans of the ink drawings in black and white stage, which were perfect for the T-Shirt and made a very big impact on the show attendees.
In Space Yui Gallery modelling the t-shirts produced for the show
One of the numerous drawings developed from sketchbook images sold during the show
Legendary zoologist, TV personality and author Mutsugoro (Masanori Hata)
I didn't take many photos, but I've posted a very few snapshots of the attendees and more of the displayed work on my Facebook feed
Finally the exhibition was over and daughter and I were able to finally relax. Straight after the exhibition we were invited by my editors at Fukuinkan to the Nagano mountains to stay in a Besso (country cottage) and research our next book. It was a wonderful tonic after the stifling heat of Tokyo!
Seren in Kobuchizawa with Roa and Yuriko
Finally back in Tokyo I was just in time to enjoy the release of Jack to Mame no Ki on 10th September!
Fukuinkan section in the Tama Plaza branch of Yurindo Bookshop. Jack gets centre stage!
Nakagin Capsule Tower (AKA The BC25 Capsule) designed by Kisho Kurokawa
The 60s and 70s were an exciting period for Japanese architecture. In particular, the Metabolist Movement which was founded by a group of futuristic visionaries, including late architect Kisho Kurokawa, puts forth ideas of “large scale, flexible and extensible structures that facilitate an organic growth process”. Perhaps the most exemplary metabolist building is the Nakagin Capsule Tower built to accommodate bachelor salarymen in downtown Tokyo.
Completed in 1972, Kisho Kurokawa designed the 14-story tower which consists of 140 pre-assembled individual capsules hoisted by a crane and bolted to the concrete core shaft. Functioning as apartments and business offices, each capsule unit comes complete with appliances and furniture for a single dweller, and by connecting additional units, can accommodate a single family. The Nakagin tower is designed to be adaptable and sustainable, with the capsules’ ability to be removed and replaced for upgrades, and thus minimizing construction waste in the process.
The Nakagin Capsule Tower has been short-listed for the World Heritage by the International Committee of Docomomo International since 1996. However it is currently at the mercy of the wrecking ball, and efforts are still being made to preserve this masterpiece.
I'm back from Tokyo and back from a dream. I have been walking around with a big smile the whole entire trip. It was all i hoped for and more. We had such a great time in the city and the people were so kind and good to us, they really made it unforgettable. Don't even know where to start telling about all the adventures. I think i have enough for multiple (think a lot!) blogposts! So get ready for a bit less vintage and a bit more Tokyo and cuteness the next couple of days.
This was the gorgeous view from the hotel room, no, it's not the Eiffeltower, but the Tokyo Tower. All though i am a big city girl, i like the quieter parts of a city. To stay in, that is, i venture out in the busy places and like to find my home where it is more calm. The tokyo tower is not in the most happening place of town, or your passion is for business finances. But i liked going back each evening to where i could rest. For those who know about my recent accident, my hip was holding up fine throughout the trip. By day 3 i had a blister which hurt me more than my fractures were. But i must admit my hip started to protest around day 5. I kinda overdid it on the walking. But nothing one Japanese aspirin couldn't take care of. I was in Tokyo. The sun was shining. What was i to do then? Stay in the hotel room all day? You're kidding right? I went out. Explore. Adventures awaited.
Had to make a start somewhere. Buying cute Kawaii items. Why not on the first morning out getting breakfast at the convenience store? It was cute, it was small, it was inexpensive. But i didn't know what it was! lol. I thought maybe a salt dispenser since it was located next to the hard boiled eggs. Later when i opened the package i found out there are some kind of tea leaves inside.
After breakfast me and my hubby ventured out to Harajuku. I had a feeling it would be one of my favorite places in the city and it was! We walked the Takeshita Dori were all the cute fashions are (i spotted some adorable shiny purple and aqua Nike's) and a huge Daiso branch! We spend a lot of time in there. So many cute items for only 100 yen each!
We also found this shop filled with all things cute called World Connection. If you ever get there, do also take the stairs down. If you think you've seen it all, there is a basement with even more goodies! I advise that when you're in a shop you like or even kinda like, always take stairs up or down if you see them. It will always be a suprise what you'll find, but my experience is that almost every time it is a good suprise. I couldn't help myself and picked up a couple of cute notebooks and stationery and this sweet clip.
After some more shopping we went back to the hotel so i could figure out where i was going to spend my afternoon when my Love had a meeting with Ken his producer. Let me tell you this, if you're into all things cute and crafty the one travelguide you want to take with you is Marcelines Tokyo Shopping Guide. You can read up on it online too on her Asking for Trouble blog, but when going to Tokyo you really want to have the little booklet in your purse. Even with a Time Out Tokyo Guide, the Shopping Guide was my bible! All the great stores are in there plus directions. Thank you Marceline. That and a print out of the circle route of the Yamanote Line was all i really needed.
I decided to venture out to Ikebukuro and see if i could find the Tokyo Hands store. Yes, with directions from the Tokyo Shopping Guide. Found it easily. And Ikebukuro was a great place to. Like many areas in Tokyo, lots of people, lots of lights, colors and sounds. Funny that everything is so loud and the people are so quiet. (i kinda liked that no cell phone conversations are allowed in the subways) So i got to Tokyo Hands and it was a great store, but i thought it would be more of a craftstore than it turned out to be. More household than crafts. But i did find some great needlefelting kits that were too sweet to pass up on.
Oh yeah, and a Happy Matryoshka Bath Fizz.
And who doesn't want to bathe in a bathtub with Cheesecake bubbles? Or sweet cherry blossom yogurt? They had any desert flavor possible! The other one, with the sweating character, i got somewhere else in a drugstore and seems to turn your bath into a heat bath. Haven't tried any of them yet. Just like to look at the packages for now.
On the very top floor of Tokyo Hands i found Nekobukuro or Cat's House. A
A friend of mine saw all the pictures i took and called Tokyo very photogenic. And it is. There is so much to see. So much beauty. So many color compositions. So many compositions in general. There are old temples next to brand new highrise shopping malls. You'll see Harajuku girls walking with women in traditional kimono. Beautiful.
And to proof i didn't only take pictures of all things cute, i'm sharing some shots of beautiful tokyo.
The Zojoji Temple was right next to our hotel and a very pretty and soothing place to start each day.
There were rows of little statues with bonnets and windmills. These are statues of jizobosatusu, the protector of the souls of stillborn children and the Buddhist equivalent of an angel. Mothers who have lost an unborn child can dedicate a statue and decorate it with baby clothes and toys.
It's so easy to feel like a great photographer when you're in Tokyo. The city is just that beautiful.
On my last Tokyo post, Marilyn asked me about language barriers. If you have seen the movie Lost in Translation, don't believe it all! The day before i left i started to worry about language. I ran to the Barnes and Nobles and bought a pocket dictionary. Well, i didn't use it at all! I basically got around with 3 words: Kawaii (for Cute), Arigato (for Thank You) and Konnichiwa (for Good Afternoon). Plus a bit of English and using my hands in attempt of signing what i meant. I must say that we've spent a lot of time with Japanese people during our trip of whom most could speak at least a little bit of English. So going out to dinner was easy, we let them know what we liked and they picked something and did all the ordering. I'm not sure how smooth that would have went if i had to pick and order myself! Then again, with them we went to restaurants with no English menus and there are restaurants that do have those. Just ask. And a lot of them have fake plastic examples of their dishes outside, so you can just point at what you want to eat. Or you go to the convenience store and pick up some sushi. And as any big city, there are also McDonald's and KFC's. Subways were easy too. Everything is marked in both Japanese and English. The announcements are in both languages too. So no worries! Our friends did try and teach us some Japanese here and there, and my hubby was very good at remembering. Maybe because he's a musician and memorizing sounds comes easier to him. I stuck to Kawaii, Arigato and Konnichiwa!
You find vending machines all over the streets of Tokyo. They are so colorful! And filled with surprise drinks. In Japan you never really know what taste to expect. You can get something that looks like a sweet and then find out it tastes sour. Or something that looks salty can turn out to be super sweet. With drinks the same. I had drinks that i can't even describe since they tasted like nothing i tasted before. Some were great and delicious. Some were strange and not for a second try.
Outside at Shinjuku station. Pretty packaging, nice and sweet hot coffee with milk!
Also at Shinjuku station. Maybe one of the prettiest bottles i found, but really the most gross coffee i have ever had! It was bitter and with bubbles! Like a hot bitter coffee soda. Yuk. (Note: Yoko just let me know that this 'coffee' was actually a chai with ginger. That explains the taste!)
I'm a big fan of capsule toys in any country, but especially in Japan! Like with the grabbing machines, there are many and all are filled with cute prizes!
You can find them everywhere, randomly in the streets, at major attractions, inside shops.
I made sure i always had enough 100 yen coins in my pocket for these unexpected treasures. They go for about 100 - 300 yen per prize.
I was very lucky too, almost every machine gave me exactly the prize i hoped for! Like this one, i got the Rilakkuma face on the top left. Kawaii! It's big and very soft. Really kinda looks like a bun, like you could eat it.
Again i was lucky with this Tama Depa machine. I got the cute pink one you see on the top right!
For this one i didn't need luck, all the prizes were adorable!
Like you see in the first photo, i got many more, but i think you get the idea of these great gashapons!
Day 6 was the most important day of the trip, the day that was the reason for my hubby and me to be in Tokyo. While my Love went to rehearsal with the band, i had the morning to myself. I planned to go to Shinjuku and go to the Okadaya craftstore. But, i couldn't find the store! But i did find a lot of 100-yen shops in the area so i spend some more yens on cute housewares and stationary and such.
What i also found were the grabbing machines with the adorable Fafa bears. Ever since i was a little little girl i wanted one of these bears. Yes, from the washing detergent, its called Robijn in the Netherlands, in Tokyo the brand is called Fafa. As a little girl i even told my mom to, if she ever saw one somewhere, ask where the people got it and if she could buy it from them. But back then these bears weren't made. So my heart skipped a couple of beats when i saw a whole bunch of them in these grabbing machines! There were many, big and small. And yes, i did try to grab one. Against better judgement because these machines never let me have what i want. So it didn't work. After the initial rush and a number of tries, i told myself i would look around in the stores to find one i could just buy, but no such luck. Maybe next time.
Then it was time for me to head to the radio studio to meet up with my hubby who had an hour on Shibuya FM radio station. It was a pleasure and the show was a hit. You can see a part of the show on youtube (including a dedication song to my mother!)
Even back in the office of the radio station you can find a cute character!
After a quick dinner it was off to club Loop for the release party of Life. The evening was like a dream. We met so many wonderful people and made new friends. We had lots of laughs and the show was a big success. I was soooo proud of my Love! I taped the whole show, it's on youtube in 4 parts. I'll give part I here and the links to the rest below.
I thought this was such a great idea, lockers inside the club!
This whole day was one to never forget. And early in the morning we rolled into a cap and found our way back to the hotel. Only one more day of Tokyo before it's back to NY. (and only one more official Tokyo blogpost before it's back to all things vintage)
On our last full day in Tokyo we made another quick stop in Harajuku for my man to pick up a jacket he had seen before. As you can see, we had a little bit of rain. Love said the reason was so i could get this photo of all the umbrellas up in the air. That's one way to look at it. After the busy (and late night) day before, we could use some relaxation, so we walked into Yoyogi Park and visited the Meiji Shrine.
Wash your hands and mouth before entering!
It was such a good idea to go here after the high energy adventure of the day before. And to end our Tokyo trip with, it was so peaceful. There were so many breathtaking spots, it looked unreal at times. I can only imagine how it will be here when the cherry blossoms are in bloom!
And thanks to the Tokyo Shopping Guide i knew to look out for stampers at big locations. If i wasn't told about this i surely would have missed them. And it became some sort of sport to spot them! Yes, they are very well hidden. In the end i found one at the temple next to our hotel, at the zoo and in the shrine at Harajuku park.
We were more tired than we wanted to admit, so we made it a short day and went back to the hotel. I had to try and pack all my new goodies (i have bought way more than i've shown here on the blog). Hubby went out in the evening to hang out with our friend, his producer one last night, while i packed and chilled. I was in luck, the all night long Tokyo Real Fashion Event was on tv, which was wonderful to watch! I taped some pieces and maybe if i find some time, edit those together and put that up on youtube somewhere.
The next morning our friend came to pick us up and bring us to the airport. It was raining a bit again. Fitted our mood. Sad to leave.
My man and i were on a mission to spend all our remaining yens at the airport. Where i realized i didn't even bought myself a real Kokeshi! (number 7 is now standing happily beside my computer)
So this was my last official Tokyo post, hope you liked reading them. I appreciate all the comments, emails and tweets i got about these posts. I have already booked my next trip: Amsterdam! Next month!
hhahahahahaha the most intense photo session I've ever had in my life! The music was loud & bumpin'. You can pick different themes and dress up in costumes. I wanted to be a sailor but they're not allowed to lend them out after 11pm (????). I'd never seen so many different background options & if that wasn't enough... after the pictures are taken you can draw on them!! Hahaha enjoy! I know I did :)
I was mia from the computron this weekend. I spent it with Kristen & her family in Las Pinas touring around malls and all of metro Manila. It was fun! We even crafted while watching Glee :). We watched Shutter which made me soo snervous but I enjoyed it because it took place in Tokyo. Oh genki-ness, I miss that city...