little irish jackhammer
- cherry blossom
- Kyoto Girls High School
- Wacky Japan
At the weekend I went to the National Museum of Art in Osaka to see an exhibition by Hiroshi Sugimoto entitled “The History of History“. If you’re interested this is what the museum looks like (I don’t know why it has rabbit ears):
But anyway, back to the exhibition – wonderful! The artist has displayed his artwork alongside his collection of fossils and historical artifacts, forming all kinds of thought provoking juxtapositions between the worlds of history and art of course. But also following his concerns with religion, architecture, science, medicine, the exploration of space… in a nut-shell: life, humanity and the world! Anyway, I’d recommend visiting this exhibition, it’s on until June 7th, but give yourself a few hours to see everything because there is a lot and everything is just too fascinating! After that we strolled back along the river towards Yodoyabashi Station and Mewby noticed this lovely old building sandwiched in between all the modern high rises. One word caught our attention on the signage: Organic.
Turns out it was a Solviva Organic Cafe and whole grain rice restaurant. So naturally we stopped and had a bite to eat. I had a cream croquette and Mewby had a tofu stew:
Very nice! Here’s a glimpse of the interior:
Satoyama No Shokutaku by Solviva is located here: MAP. Tel: 06-6241-5757 Open: 10:30 – 20:00. We recommend it!
There’s a fresh post up on Deep Kyoto tonight of tasty cafe & bakery Le Petit Mec. I’ll be posting something else French a little further down too, but for now here’s a picture of a Japanese otaku as drawn by one of my 1st year girls last week:
I guess お宅 (otaku) is usually translated as geek, nerd or even freak and this can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. For example, if I like comics and describe myself as a comics fanatic or manga otaku then I obviously feel this is a good thing. The girls who explained this particular drawing to me however obviously have less sympathetic feelings towards our otaku bretheren. He is an Akihabara Otaku they told me. “Look,” they said, “his pants are too short and too tight.” “He has hairs growing out of a mole on his nose.” “He has an unnatural love for the figure in his hand – more than he feels for any living human being.” (Yes, she really said that. Only in Japanese of course.) Let’s take a closer look at the figure in his left hand, shall we? They’ve written a helpful note for us, it’s a 涼宮ハルヒフィギュア – a Suzumiya Haruhi figure. Don’t know what that is? Take a look at these images, and then this song, and then this wiki. Like the fellow holding her in his hand, she lives in a parallel universe and has little interest in normal humans. She’s a heck of a lot cuter than he is though.
These kind of toy figures are big business in Japan, but there are some who are taking this mania and exploiting it for more artistic ends. Like this fellow Tei Ryosuke a creative designer and (toy figure maker) who has said (and remember he’s not speaking in his native tongue):
I don’t think that this is toy – only toy. …Now we have a new mania, it’s toy you know. So, we use toy design… and er change the media and send to world… and so many people show this, make happy, yeah? Link to (Dutch?) feature on urban toys.
Here are some figures he has designed himself (I especially like “mummy the rabbit”): LINK
So, you see, otaku can be artists too.
Tei Ryosuke is also an animator and here is a wicked animation he did for DJ Missill’s “Forward” which features (as all French electronica videos should) a giant guitar-playing robo-rabbit. Great tune too. LINK (via Pink Tentacle)
I just spent the day traipsing round town looking for a new sofa bed, failing to find one, getting frustrated by the dawdling crowds (why does everyone but me dawdle?) and upon going home ordering this little beauty from amazon.co.jp instead. Praise be the interwebs! Now I have to wait a week or so until I can test it out. Hope it’s comfortable. If you’re wondering why I need a new sofa bed, my old sofa is falling to pieces and my old futon – well, a dog peed on my futon. Don’t ask why or how. These things simply happen.
Last Sunday I went to see the Tale of Genji Millenium exhibition at the Museum of Kyoto; a very impressive collection of priceless manuscripts, emaki, beautiful folding screens and other precious knick-knacks to celebrate 1000 years since this tale of nobility and nookie first made a big splash in the Heian court. What really impressed me was just how popular and important this story has been to Japanese people down the centuries and still is today – the place was packed. Actually, it was a little too packed, and with quite a few ladies of a certain age with vicious elbows. I’d recommend going to see it, but not on a weekend. Anyway, I’ve been inspired to dig the two-volume copy out of the school library and have another crack at it. Or I could read it here I suppose but I prefer a paper copy.
Later, the same day I went to see Atonement at the Cocon Karasuma cinema. Wow. Great movie. It started off so slow I was thinking “This is going to be a very pretty but dull couple of hours…“, but then it started to build and build, and the story had me totally in its clutches until the devastating ending. I heartily recommend it. The sort of movie that makes you very very thankful for whatever happiness you’ve got. Here’s a trailer.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/-ntAx0vrOjo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Mikey Lambe’s Liver is Saved
My very favoritest bar in the whole wide world, Small Town Talk, is closing down this Saturday. Devastated. However, on a brighter note it does perhaps mean that we won’t be afflicted with sights like this anymore:
I actually have a short video of Masuda dancing and shaking his meat and two veg about, but trust me you don’t want to see that.
Yasunari Kawabata and Kaii Higashiyama
On a more cultural note: there’s a really nice exhibition celebrating the friendship between novelist Kawabata and artist Higashiyama at the “Museum of Kyoto” (京都文化博物館） on Sanjo (between the post office and the Duce Mix building) . It’s only on until the 24th so check it out if you have the chance. Kaii Higashiyama’s paintings are really beautiful.
There’s a fresh review up on Deep Kyoto tonight of my very very 一番好きな favoritest bar in the whole wide world: Small Town Talk. There’s a very high possibility that it will close before the end of the year so enjoy it while you can.
Here’s a short reminder from Mario Alfonso about next week’s event in Tokyo:
Just a reminder that there’s less than a week left until the charity event at What the Dickens next Tuesday the 13th of November! If it’s not on your schedule already, don’t forget to include it!
Everyone who goes will be helping out more than they can imagine. For just the 2000 yen entry fee, a person will be able to feed 40 children for a whole day. Forty people for the price of two Tokyo lunches!
And don’t forget the chance to win an i-pod and some other cool prizes in the raffle. Factor in three great bands, one over from England on a promotional tour, and it all adds up to a great night for a great cause.
And don’t forget to tell your friends, family and co-workers about it too. We’re expecting numbers in the hundreds from all over Tokyo!
See you there!!
And here’s a really interesting (and funtertaining) speech I found on BoingBoing the other night by Larry Lessig on how our culture’s creativity (and recreativity) is being shackled by current copyright laws and how the internet shall set us free! Watch out for the video remixes towards the end. Pretty damn funny stuff.
Ack! I tried embedding it and it messed up the page. Click on this instead: LINK.
Waiting for my friend last night, and having nothing better to do, I rooted through my bag and pulled out this little pocket sized book of words and pictures 嘘をつけばよかった by local artist Ashida Mellow and the poet Esu Toyohara.
I picked this up in Neutron Cafe last weekend on the same friend’s recommendation. Now I find reading long articles in Japanese somewhat overwhelming, but these little thought-provoking poems are ideal for quiet study when you have a few moments to kill. Here’s one that I particularly liked, because I think we’ve all experienced this kind of pointless relationship:
Winning and losing conversations
We are not really friends at all are we?
I picked up a little book of postcards in Neutron Cafe last Sunday. They are by local artist Mellow Ashida and wordsmith Esu Toyohara and this one in particular took my fancy:
馬鹿とピュアは – 違う
Stupidity and innocence – are not the same thing
I popped by Florent Maussion‘s exhibition at the Yamaso Art Gallery in Higashiyama today. Wow! He’s really good. I’m not sure what impressed me more, the paintings or the prices! Florent is an artist who spends half his time in France and half in Kyoto. I’d like to say he’s a friend but we don’t really have a common language. However, if drinking with mutual friends and grinning stupidly at each other makes you friends then that’s what we are. Anyway, his art is fantastic. It really captures the spirit of this place. Unfortunately, the exhibition only lasts till tomorrow and as Florent wasn’t there today, I wasn’t able to ask his permission to take pictures… HOWEVER!!! If you click here: Exhibition – you can see them on his site. Not quite the same as seeing his huge canvasses up front but it gives you an idea. Just click on the little Union Jack in the top left and you get English.
There’s a cafe/art gallery called りほう not two minutes walk from my house, that does very good coffee and we went there today and had a look at the latest exhibition: 植物と硝子と – “With Greenery, With Glass”. Here are some pictures. I like how these pieces work with the lighting and shadows and how the wandering, reaching branches are all somehow bound up in recurring circles…
Also, let me just say, I really want to see this! I really want to see this! STARDUST
These are a couple of photos I took today, which I’m not entirely satisfied with, but I think you can see what I’m stretching for…
Lovely day today. Perfect weather for a picnic in a park and kicking a ball around. So we went to an art exhibition. But we had good reason. It was the graduation exhibition for students of Kyoto University of Art & Design so our friend He Jun had an exhibit there too. The theme and title is “Ten Symbols of Longevity” or 十長生. I like the way she has combined Hangul (Korean) lettering with the Chinese characters and the pictorial representations. Very pretty. Here it is:
Just double click on the pictures for a better look.