Art Tokyo Walking

Graffiti in Sakuragicho

From the latest edition of the “Tokyo Initiator’s Diary” at REALTOKYO:

After seeing the “Empty Garden 2” exhibition at Watari Museum I buy several books on graffiti at the “On Sundays” bookshop. From there I proceed to Sakuragicho to inspect some real graffities. There are a lot in this area, and some of them are really awesome. A visit is definitely rewarding for fans of graffiti.

Seems like I’ll have to drop by Sakuragicho for a bit of street art documentation.

Tokyo Walking

Toe in Koenji

tokyoToe (of Groovisual Diary) has a great new post with loads of pics about a recent outing in Koenji.

Tokyo Walking

Orange in Tokyo

Online magazine ORANGE takes a tour of Tokyo. Not exactly “my Tokyo,” but it might still offer some suggestions for visitors to the city.

A nice thing about ORANGE is that they also have a mobile version of their site (where I read the article).

Tokyo Walking

Dawn of the Shibuya-kei Dead

Thoughts on Shibuya, as Momus spends his last day in Tokyo.

Now, my first reference to Shibuya-kei on my website came in September 1998, when I declared Shibuya-kei dead. Well, I may have been a bit premature. I come today to tell you that Shibuya-kei is no longer dead. Perhaps it never was, or perhaps it’s walking undead. It’s back, like a Pucci Lolita, like a snapshot in a cherished copy of FRUiTS magazine. For five years the spirit of Gap and Uniqlo has banished all but beige, grey, cream, black and white from Japanese streets. But pinks, yellows, oranges and reds are back, synthetic fabrics are back, a bold sort of sensuality is evident again. Not only in this Braniff exhibition, but in the second show I saw today, an impressive display, designed by Groovisions, of Guy Peellaert’s Pravda action girl comics (last seen in a book published by Shoichi Kajino, my A&R man at Nippon Columbia at the height of Shibuya-kei and now designer of fashion magazine Ryuko Tsushin — a true dandy of vintage Shibuya-kei).

Read the full post here.

Update: There’s a very interesting discussion going on in the comments section of the Momus post.

Tokyo Walking

An Afternoon in Ginza, Yurakucho, and Marunouchi


Last Saturday I left early in the afternoon for Ginza to have a look at this month’s Ginza Graphic Gallery exhibition, “Graphic Wave 2004” (more here). After that, I slowly made my way to the Apple Store, comfortably walking in the middle of the street as it was closed off from car traffic. At the Apple Store, I was obviously drawn to the new iMacs, as everyone else there was also. I assure you, they look even better up close, and it was hard to find one that didn’t have someone playing around with it.

Following my usual route when I’m in the area, I headed towards Yurakucho to stop at the Okinawa store (taco rice set, chinsuko cookies, and A&W root beer), and then to Muji. The Yurakucho Muji superstore is currently undergoing some renovations (re-launches September 23), and most of the floorspace was closed off, including the whole 3rd floor, and the Meal Muji cafeteria. I’m definitely curious as to what it is they’ll be unveiling next week.

I then walked through the Tokyo International Forum, which is always a kick (I’ll put some pics up in the next few days to give you an idea of why it’s worth checking out), and then figured that I could easily walk to the Marunouchi Building (or Maru Biru). I sometimes forget that the different areas of Tokyo are so close by, because all these places are stops on the train/subway to me. So a short 5/10 minute walk brought me to Maru Biru, where I found an art event happening (see this moblog pic, and I’ll feature some more pics over the next few days). It’s to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the shopping/lifestyle center. I’d read in TOKYO WALKER last week that Dragonfly Cafe had opened a new branch in the area, but never ended up finding it because of a typo in the magazine (it said it was on the 36th floor, which I checked out, but it’s actually at street level in another building adjacent to Maru Biru). I tried going to another cafe called D’Cross, but the place was packed, and I didn’t feel like waiting in line.

One interesting thing about that day is that it cost me so little. I’ve been complaining a lot lately about not having a lot of money to do stuff, but what I’ve just described shows that it’s actually possible to enjoy the city with next to no money (just the transportation costs to get there and back). The exhibitions at the GGG are always free, and my stop at the nearby Apple Store included some time on the 4th floor using one of their many internet-connected iMacs (where I wrote this post). The Muji store is always fun to visit, and you usually have the Atelier Muji that you can check out (I hope they don’t lose this in the renovations). The Tokyo International Forum is a nice piece of architecture that you can appreciate, and then Maru Biru had the free art event, with works being on display throughout. And tonight I’m going to the free Takemura Nobukazu event at the Apple Store. It’s nice to know that all these things are out there.

TB.Grafico Tokyo Walking

An Afternoon in Aoyama


I leave in the middle of the afternoon, and take the subway to Aoyama, accompanying Yuko as she heads out to Todai. I decide to get off at the Gaienmae station, as there are a few things in the area I want to check out. Things don’t start off so well. I start by going to the Cibone shop, only to find it closed. My next stop is supposed to be the +81 shop, but I’m unable to find it (I checked the Superfuture map before leaving, but I should have printed it out; looking at the map now, I’m sure I walked in front of it, but still couldn’t spot it, so I’m wondering if it still exists or not). Since I’m in the area, I drop by the Watari-Um bookshop, drooling over some of the beautiful, yet expensive books.

Next up is Nadiff, and as I walk in that direction, I pass in front of Lotus (cafe/bar), which now seems to have a second floor area called Pond. At Nadiff, I’m surprised to see an exhibition by Yamaguchi Akira, whose t-shirt I recently bought. The works are really nice, showcasing his beautifully detailed illustrative style. Again, I spend a lot of time mesmerized by the beautiful books/magazines, but end up only picking up the first issue of the 3WWW guide (the content is available online, but I wanted a hardcopy for the archives). Amazingly, and with relief, I make my way out while having spent only 100 yen.

I then try to visit Gallery 360, only to find it closed. They’re currently between exhibitions, and the next one will start towards the end of the month. Next up is Spiral, where there are currently no exhibitions (the next event is the Kyupi Kyupi Grand Kayo Show Cabarotica), but I spend some time listening to CDs at Spiral Records (and am tempted by a few).

Going down a few back streets, I end up at the Bapexclusive shop. At the Bape Gallery, located on the second floor, there’s an interesting exhibition called “Autograf: New York City’s Graffiti Writers,” by Peter Sutherland. The show comprises of photos of graffiti artists (most of them hiding behind something, to keep their identity secret), with an autograph written on the picture with a marker by the artists, in their respective styles.

Continuing through the back streets, I end up at the Colette Meets Comme des Garcons collaboration shop (which is to last until December). The first floor has some nice objects, but nothing I can afford (I’m tempted by the COLETTE 6 compilation, but it’s a bit pricey at 6000 yen). The second floor currently hosts the Genevieve Gauckler exhibition, and the works are really fun. I’ve seen the images on the Colette DVD, but here they’re presented with with funny subtitles. The t-shirt for the show is already sold out. While I’m there, popular TV celebrity YOU (who my wife loves) shows up. She talks a bit with what looks like one of the organizers (he’s French, and is sitting there with a laptop).

I’ve been in the area for close to 4 hours now, and getting tired, I start making my way back to the station. I drop by the Rocket Gallery, where they are hosting an interesting exhibition called “Summer Printing Pool.” The gallery space transforms itself in a silkscreen studio, where you can get artwork (you can view the designs here) from various artists printed on any piece of clothing you bring in (or even hats and bags). At the store on the first floor I pick up the new issue of SAL. The final stop before leaving is the And A select shop, where Audrey has recently sold some fashion designs.

Back in Ikebukuro, I meet up with Yuko, to then go to Pause, and cap the evening with a delicious bowl of tonkotsu ramen at Tonchin.

TB.Grafico Tokyo Walking

An Evening in Harajuku


We head out to Harajuku to check out the Placard#7 electronic music festival taking place in Yoyogi park. I especially want to be there for Momus’ set. On my way over, I get a call from Carsten, who having seen my post about going there, figures I would be a good person to contact to find out where the event is taking place. Seems he’s in Yoyogi park, but cannot find where the performances are. As I’m not sure either, I’ll have to wait until I get there to contact him again. As we exit Harajuku station, we encounter a multitude of yukata girls. There’s a big firework display taking place in the area (near Gaienmae I believe). Approaching the park, we hear some heavy metal coming from the stage area next to the NHK building. Yuko believes this is where we should be going, but explaining to her that there is no way that this could be Momus, she counters with: “Maybe he changed his style?”

Once inside the park, after a bit of keitai tagging with Carsten, we get to the area where Placard#7 is taking place. I’m quite surprised by what I find: pure silence. Everyone is equipped with headphones, and this is the only way to listen to the performances (outside of the Internet streams, which Robert is enjoying in another part of the park). Momus is at the controls, red cloth coifed to combat the mosquitos. The air is quite nice, and I must say that the concept is quite interesting. Unfortunately, it’s not what I’m expecting, and I feel a bit uncomfortable about leaving Yuko alone while sitting down with headphones. In attendance (and waiting for his turn to perform later on in the evening) is sound/visual artist Nicholas D. Kent, who gives copies of his DVD to me and Momus. We watch bits of it on Momus’ trusty iBook.

After staying for about 2 hours, we leave the area, getting ready to head back home (Yuko’s a bit tired from having studied all day). But on our way to the station, she gets a second wind, and we decide to get some coffee somewhere. Walking down Omotesando, I bring her to Montoak, where we get a few drinks, and enjoy the scenery (mostly a yukata clad couple, drinking too much, with the girl passing out and having to be dragged out of the place).

After Montoak, we walk down a few small streets, still enjoying the nice fresh air (what a nice change from all the recent humidity), and end up going to Komen for some ramen. Now, regular readers will recall that I have forsaken Komen for close to a year because of a change they made to their shouyu soup. So shocked was I by this change, that I couldn’t possibly entertain the thought of offering them any kind of patronage anymore. Well, after a few drinks and a hungry stomach, the images of ramen near the entrance are a bit too enticing, and the promise of a delicious-looking bowl of tonkotsu ramen (which I’d never tried) is too much to resist. The verdict? Komen’s tonkotsu ramen (which they call jukusei) ends up being like a slice of paradise. It’s quite possibly the tastiest I’ve had, and means that I now call to a stop my boycott of the Ikebukuro branch also. Viva ramen!

Update: The sound of my blogging, via Click Opera.

TB.Grafico Tokyo Walking

Nakameguro Street Art


Somewhere in Nakameguro.

Tokyo Walking

An Afternoon in Nakameguro

I leave Ikebukuro early in the afternoon for an outing in Nakameguro. The first thing I do when arriving is to take out the issue of RES I brought with me, the one with the Superfuture map of Nakameguro, so I can find the Groovisions shop, GRV1788. As I slowly make my way there, I snap pics of the surrounding area, mostly taking in the street art (which I’ll feature here over the next few days). At the GRV shop, I can’t stop myself from grabbing a t-shirt and some GRV tape (a credit card purchase, that I’m still trying to justify now; moment of weakness I guess). The other shops in the GBL building, Loopwheeler and Bonzaipaint, also have some nice stuff. I then head to the Tokion shop, only to find it closed, with a small note on the door saying that the staff went out for a bit. Oh well. I also notice that Buro-Stil has recently moved to another Nakame location.

It’s now time to meet with Robert, so I take the train to Yutenji, the next station, where he awaits with a friend. We start by going to the Idee Service Station, which I now absolutely adore. Very nice funky atmosphere, and I’m definitely looking forward to a future evening visit, like the upcoming DJ night that will feature Robert, Digiki, and maybe Midori? It’s now time to head to GlitchSlapTko HQ for a bit of relaxation. Very nice pop atmosphere, with an even better selection of drinks. Some orange juice and shochu, followed by some straight shochu… I also get a hilarious reading of his upcoming articles for VICE (everyone should have him read his articles to them; it adds a certain je ne sais quoi).

Already looking forward to my next visit to the area.

Update: Robert, as usual, outdoes my report over at the TSiG blog.

Update 2: Chad, creator of the Superfuture map, points us to a Supertalk thread where you can view it.

Tokyo Walking

The Mome in TYO

Seems like Momus is quite enjoying being back in town.