Thursday, 30 August 2012

A rogue manner poster

Regulars of this blog will know that I document the monthly manner posters that adorn the walls of the Tokyo Metro, warning passengers of potential dangers or social no-nos. They are always done in the same style and are very recognisable, but there seems to be a rogue poster designer in our midst who is doing his own version and they're actually quite funny!

This one warns of the potential hazards that could lead to falling off the platform ie - being slapped by your girlfriend, breaking a heel on your stiletto, carrying a giant teddy bear (?), and the best one, getting knocked over by a humungous quiff!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Azabu Juban festival

After the Oktoberfest experience, we decided to wander back past Tokyo Tower (stunning in the evening light) and through the Azabu Juban festival to see what it was all about. Many people rave about it and we were intrigued to see what the fuss was about. Well it was so busy, that we couldn't get to any of the food stalls (that all smelt amazing, by the way) and after about 15 mins of fighting through the crowds, I'm afraid to say we decided to call it a day and headed home. I managed to get a few blurry shots of the food vendors cooking up a storm.


Only in Japan would you celebrate Oktoberfest in August! The celebrations have been going on for the past two weeks in Shiba koen, but we decided to head over there yesterday and see what it was all about. I'm not sure why they don't have it in October as it's a beautiful month in Tokyo and perfect for sitting outside. Sunday was sweltering but there was a massive crowd that turned out to sample the array of beers on offer and there was even a German band (fully kitted out in lederhosen) playing well known German songs such as the 'Birdie Song'! We sampled some nice beers and a spicy sausage.....

Samba saturday

This weekend seemed to be the weekend when all the festivals were happening and on saturday there were two Latin American ones going on around the city - a Samba festival and an Argentinean festival. We wanted to make it to both of them, but the heat got to us and we only made it to the Samba one, which was held in the streets around Asakusa. It was quite an extravaganza, with much glitter, feathers and 'cheeks', and there was a wonderful atmosphere.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Sukita Masayoshi

I often pop into the Ebisu Photography Museum to check out an exhibition and am nearly always impressed by the selection on offer. The other day I went to see the retrospective of Sukita Masayoshi, a Japanese photographer who has captured the image of many famous icons of the music and film world, as well as documenting life in Japan and New York. Sukita first met David Bowie in London in 1972 and from there they built a relationship where Sukita documented Bowie's rise to fame as well as his changing looks. A large section of the exhibition showed Bowie in his early years as the androgynous Ziggy Stardust. It was great to see shots of Bowie as his alter ego, but there were also some beautiful studio shots of him 'au naturel', in leather jacket and messy hair where he almost looked more androgynous than in his stage gear.

As well as the shots of famous people, there were also some beautiful black and white photographs of everyday life in Japan and New York, ranging from the punk scene in Manhattan, to an ethereal moment in Grand Central station.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Summer Sonic 2012

On sunday we ventured out to the QVC Marine Field to the annual Summer Sonic festival. A music festival usually conjures up images of large fields and open spaces, but most of this is held in a conference centre where trade shows usually happen. We saw an amazing selection of bands, both old and new, and many different genres, as well as many bands I wouldn't normally see. We saw some new I hadn't heard of before (UK rock band Tribes,  and Canadian earthy band Walk off the Earth), we saw some oldies (The Cardigans, Garbage, Tears for Fears and New Order) who were all very good. We also nipped in briefly to see a rap artist Azealia Banks who whipped the crowd up into a frenzy, as did the crazy Japanese band Polysics. They were intriguing to watch, with their Devo-inspired outfits and heavy rock-inspired music, but ten minutes was enough for me! My favourite band were Foster the People who did an amazing set.

Artists are encouraged to express their vision of the Summer Sonic experience.

After doing a bit of crowd-surfing,  Canadian band Walk off the Earth did a version of Gotye's 'Somebody I used to know'. Five of them were playing one guitar.

The Cardigans did a good set and were very popular.

Japanese band Polysics wore Devo-inspired outfits involving boiler suits and silver space age glasses.

Foster the People were fab, with a heavy percussion influence. The crowd loved them!

Tears for Fears did all the classics. This was their first time back to Japan in 27 years!

New Order were the grand finale and also did a great set.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Tokusatsu - Special Effects Museum

On saturday, I also went to see the exhibition 'Tokusatsu-Special Effects Museum' at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Tokusatsu is the word used to describe films such as 'Godzilla' where an oversized creature looms over a city, destroying everything in its path. Every year, Studio Ghibli (a famous Japanese animation studio) and MOT collaborate and create a show that exhibits miniatures used in popular sci-fi films from the '50s and '60s, as well as art work, technical drawings and even a miniature Tokyo cityscape that you could walk around.

Future Beauty

On saturday I went to see the Future Beauty exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was an exhibition focusing on Japanese fashion, its creativity and the cultural background of its design. There were some beautiful pieces there, from Comme Des Garcons, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, as well as many others. It was great to see their creations up close and to see how differently Japanese designers approach fashion.

Nice! Chicken rice!

On friday I went to a tiny 50s-inspired Singaporean restaurant down one of the back streets in Naka Meguro. It is called Five Star Cafe and was recommended by a Singaporean friend of mine. A group of us trotted along there to sample their lunch menu and there was a nice selection of set lunches, including chicken and rice. We ate our meal serenaded by music from the 1950s. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the poster in their window.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Sunday in the park

On sunday we decided to head out to Showa Kinen park, about 30 mins out of Shinjuku on the Chuo line. It's a pretty place and there is lots to see and do. We were able to rent bikes and it was a lovely way to get around the park and soak up the atmosphere. We took a picnic lunch and ate it looking over the picturesque pond in the Japanese garden section. You can also rent barbeques there, so I think next time we'll try that.

Saturday fireworks

August is the season for fireworks here and every weekend there is a fireworks bonanza going on somewhere around Tokyo. On saturday night it was Tokyo Bay's turn, and it did not disappoint. We managed to get a good view (without having to pay!) between a tree and lamp post! Needless to say, many people were out celebrating in their yukatas (cotton kimonos) and there was a great atmosphere as the fireworks bloomed over the bay.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Cheeky chappies

I couldn't resist taking this photo the other day when I was in a combini (convenience store) and greeted by a vision of neatly lined up salary men in their regulation white shirt and black trousers. They were politely reading the "girlie" mags or manga comics. It's a scene you see all over Tokyo, in any combini, where there will inevitably be at least three men neatly lined up, quite brazenly getting their daily dose.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Summer evening

Even though it's been rather toasty outdoors recently, it's still really nice to sit out on the balcony in the evening with a glass of wine and soak up the summer sounds. I love the noise the cicadas make and August is their month, where their chirruping builds to a crescendo. I have tried to capture the sound in the film footage below, but it really doesn't do it justice.

Bob and Tom love us being out there with them and love to lie up against the side of the balcony where it's cooler, or sniff around for bugs.

A small film.

Bob and Tom chasing bugs.

Tom's favourite spot - not such a gentlemanly pose!

Monday, 6 August 2012

A walk near Shin Zushi

The weather has been pretty hot and humid here in Tokyo, so on sunday we decided to head out of the city and go for a small hike near Shin Zushi on the coast. The walk actually took us up into the local hills and we were surrounded by trees and ferns, which kept us cooler. But by the time we reached the top, we were dripping! The view was quite impressive, looking over the surrounding land and then on to the ocean. We had lunch at the top and then worked our way down, past flower fields, streams and bamboo forests. It was a welcome break from the intensity of the city heat.

Naka Meguro matsuri

We love living in Daikanyama and feel very lucky to live there, but we also love the fact that Naka Meguro is just down the hill from us and has a wonderful selection of bars, restaurants and shops, as well as being next to the Meguro river, a fab place to be in blossom season.

We love the neighbourhood feel of Naka Meguro and the whole neighbourhood came out over the weekend to celebrate its annual festival. We think it is related to the Bon Odori festival which is officially celebrated on 13th-15th August. It is a festival that remembers the dead and many people return to their family homes to celebrate it. There are celebrations all over Japan, and this weekend was Naka Meguro's turn. The streets were full of people and all the restaurants had opened their doors and were selling food and drink on the streets. The festival involved many "troupes" of dancers who would perform a lively routine to live music and this would be done as a procession down the main street. It was a lively, colourful evening and quite moving too.