Sep 042011
 



 
3331 Arts Chiyoda is one of the newest large galleries in Tokyo. Occupying the renovated building of the old Rensei Junior High School, it boast three stories of gallery and workshop spaces. It is located close to Akihabara in Chiyoda-ku (duh!). Many small individual galleries are housed inside 3331 Arts Chiyoda, promoting the exchange of creative ideas between the various artists and curators.

Not totally unlike the Design Festa they had a special event where many people get the opportunity to present their artwork. Unlike the DF, the Chiyoda Art Festival 2011 is more artistic in nature and not as much arts & crafts. Several hundred artists and performers presented their work to the public (admission was free) and I walked around and snapped some pictures of the things I saw this Sunday.

One of the main exhibition halls in 3331 Arts Chiyoda.
One of the main exhibition halls in 3331 Arts Chiyoda.
Hundreds of small pictures of the ''Dream Planet'' (ユメミる惑星) artwork.
Hundreds of small pictures of the ''Dream Planet'' (ユメミる惑星) artwork.
Some Japanese paintings by various artists at the Chiyoda Art Festival 2011.
Some Japanese paintings by various artists at the Chiyoda Art Festival 2011.
The style of the presented artworks was very different, here the ''Happy Adventure'' crayon triptych.
The style of the presented artworks was very different, here the ''Happy Adventure'' crayon triptych.
A weird sculpture of a man resting in a shoe.
A weird sculpture of a man resting in a shoe.
Another look around inside the 3331 Arts Chiyoda exhibition space during the Chiyoda Arts Fair.
Another look around inside the 3331 Arts Chiyoda exhibition space during the Chiyoda Arts Fair.
A large plastic dodecahedron with a doll inside.
A large plastic dodecahedron with a doll inside.
Lots of colorful paintings displayed in 3331 Chiyoda Arts.
Lots of colorful paintings displayed in 3331 Chiyoda Arts.
A Fukushima-inspired installation with a radioactive waste container at Chiyoda Arts.
A Fukushima-inspired installation with a radioactive waste container at Chiyoda Arts.
 Posted by at 19:37
Aug 282011
 



 
The Daien-ji (大円寺) temple in Meguro is quite small, but comes with a rich history. It was here that the Great Meiwa fire (明和の大火) started in 1772 which killed many thousands of old Edo’s citizens. Unfortunately, I did only a short stop here at this temple and grabbed some quick close-ups of a few stone statues.

Above you see one of the jizō figures with the wall of small atonement statues behind it. Below is a closer look at one of these statues of the 500 followers of Buddha, each with its own design and facial expression. These gohyaku-rakan stone sculptures were made to appease the souls that departed in the fire.

 Posted by at 18:44
Jul 012010
 



 
The current popularity of Blythe dolls in Japan almost makes you forget that this toy was neither invented there nor that it is actually a new doll brand. Blythe originated in the US and was first only produced in 1972, but that all changed around the year 2000 when Blythe was discovered as a fashion doll. Since then dozens of new editions of Neo Blythe dolls have been sold and and the doll has been featured in books, magazines, advertising and exhibitions. As a fashion doll it is a popular “canvas” for professional and hobbyist fashion designers, resulting in a large community of Blythe enthusiasts in Asia and internationally.

To celebrate the 9th anniversary of the introduction of the modern Blythe doll there is currently (beginning of July 2010) a special charity exhibition of designer Blythe dolls in the posh Omotesandō Hills mall in Aoyama, Tokyo. So I went to this Blythe 9th Anniversary Charity Exhibition which has the motto “Manga Girls Inspiration” to take photos of styled Blythe dolls dressed up as chic and cute characters from Japan’s pop culture of anime and manga. However, most of the dolls were wearing regular Japanese fashion brands, but there was also the 5th Annual Blythe Beauty contest of customized dolls from fans from around the world.

The Blythe charity doll "Why is she carrying roses on her back?" by the singer/performer/tarento Chiaki (千秋).
The Blythe charity doll "Why is she carrying roses on her back?" by the singer/performer/tarento Chiaki (千秋).
The "Dark Marchen Girl" Blythe doll beauty contest entry from the team L'Ange noir.
The "Dark Marchen Girl" Blythe doll beauty contest entry from the team L'Ange noir.
The Blythe dolls outfitted by the gothic lolita fashion labels Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (left) and Angelic Pretty (right).
The Blythe dolls outfitted by the gothic lolita fashion labels Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (left) and Angelic Pretty (right).
A Felix the Cat Blythe doll designed by Michiru und Over the Stripes.
A Felix the Cat Blythe doll designed by Michiru und Over the Stripes.
The Queen of Heart's Tea Time Blythe doll.
The Queen of Heart's Tea Time Blythe doll.
Yoyamart's Icicle Princess Blythe doll.
Yoyamart's Icicle Princess Blythe doll.
Fairy*Kitten messie's¹ 6%TOKIDOKI (left) and Anna Chambers Blythe dolls (right).
Fairy*Kitten messie's¹ 6%TOKIDOKI (left) and Anna Chambers Blythe dolls (right).
The Blythe doll designed by FREDDY TAN (Dollz Inc Pte Ltd).
The Blythe doll designed by FREDDY TAN (Dollz Inc Pte Ltd).
The Blythe doll beauty contest entry "Ayu's Sunday" by Atelier Nina.
The Blythe doll beauty contest entry "Ayu's Sunday" by Atelier Nina.
 Posted by at 21:22
Jun 122010
 

This Saturday I was invited to the newly-opened Tabloid studio/club/gallery in Hinode, Minato-ku, where the Art Hotel Nest Tokyo is residing. The fashion designer Yoshikazu Yamagata (山縣良和) and his writtenafterwards label presented his latest fashions designs in a show titled “Crime and Punishment”. I got a good position to photograph the runway and present you here a couple of photos from this event. By the way, the models were wearing white make-up and crude wigs — they really looked like this.

A design of Yoshikazu Yamagata's "Crime and Punishment" fashion show.
A design of Yoshikazu Yamagata's "Crime and Punishment" fashion show.
A rare exception from writtenafterwards' usually white or light-colored fashion designs.
A rare exception from writtenafterwards' usually white or light-colored fashion designs.
Most of Yoshikazu Yamagata's fashion designs were made from wool.
Most of Yoshikazu Yamagata's fashion designs were made from wool.
A plaid coat from Yoshikazu Yamagata's writtenafterwards label.
A plaid coat from Yoshikazu Yamagata's writtenafterwards label.
A design of Yoshikazu Yamagata's "Crime and Punishment" fashion show.
A design of Yoshikazu Yamagata's "Crime and Punishment" fashion show.
A model wearing a short-sleeve shirt from Yoshikazu Yamagata and a braided wig.
A model wearing a short-sleeve shirt from Yoshikazu Yamagata and a braided wig.
An off-white writtenafterwards pullover from the fashion show at Tabloid in Tokyo.
An off-white writtenafterwards pullover from the fashion show at Tabloid in Tokyo.
"Crime and Punishment" was the theme of writtenafterwards' fashion designs.
"Crime and Punishment" was the theme of writtenafterwards' fashion designs.
The fashion show lasted for only about 15 minutes, then all of Yoshikazu Yamagata's models came out for a final walk on the catwalk.
The fashion show lasted for only about 15 minutes, then all of Yoshikazu Yamagata's models came out for a final walk on the catwalk.

After the presentation I walked around and shot a little bit of the other installations from Yamagata’s students of the “coconogacco” class.

A student designer whose name I didn't get, unfortunately.
A student designer whose name I didn't get, unfortunately.
An installation with "The Big Bra" (and oversized panties) from Yoshikazu Yamagata.
An installation with "The Big Bra" (and oversized panties) from Yoshikazu Yamagata.
Yoshikazu Yamagata's actual fashion from the show was for sale at a special after-show backstage event.
Yoshikazu Yamagata's actual fashion from the show was for sale at a special after-show backstage event.
Young fashion designer Yūma Yamamoku (山杢勇馬) in the midst of his installation.
Young fashion designer Yūma Yamamoku (山杢勇馬) in the midst of his installation.
A close-up of the colorful and playful designs of Yūma Yamamoku (山杢勇馬).
A close-up of the colorful and playful designs of Yūma Yamamoku (山杢勇馬).
The new art space Tabloid, which is owned by the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun. Note the Hinode station of the Yurikamome line.
The new art space Tabloid, which is owned by the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun. Note the Hinode station of the Yurikamome line.
 Posted by at 22:09
Jun 032010
 



 
Today, when I walked from Yoyogi to Harajuku, I did not go by my usual route along the Meiiji-dōri. Instead, I turned slightly west and into the part of the Yoyogi park with the Meiji-jingū. So I went down the Kita-sandō and Minami-sandō and walked by several large torii of the Meiji shrine, the largest one I show here. It stands at the entrance to the inner precinct with the actual shrine and treasure museum. Note the Imperial Seals of Japan (the golden chrysanthemum) on the gate.

 Posted by at 16:44
May 182010
 

The Gōtoku-ji temple in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, is the temple of the original maneki neko (beckoning cat). Legend has it, that in this temple a monk was looking after a stray cat, spending his time and food to feed and care for it. His superior was annoyed by this, saying, “Why do you care so much for this stray animal? There is no use (and profit) to waste one’s time for a cat!”

While cats nowadays are considered to be very kawaii (cute) in Japan, their character is seen less favorable. Unlike dogs, cats are seen as illoyal, shifty and devious… For example, there is not one Japanese family name that has the 猫 (cat) kanji in it. So a cat would not be seen as proper company for monk. However, the monk in this legend kept the cat and the cat was always around at the temple, which was just one of many small, poor Buddhist temples at that time.

One night the mighty feudal lord Ii Naotaka was traveling close to the temple in a dark and stormy night. He and his entourage sought shelter under a tree, hoping the terrible thunderstorm would soon pass. As he spied into the night, he saw in the distance a white cat beckoning him with its paw. Curiously he went out into the storm to the cat and discovered the Gōtoku-ji temple he had not seen before. Just as he arrived at the temple, a lightning struck the tree under which he had sought shelter before. He realized that if it hadn’t been for the cat he would have been killed.

After that, he gave a large donation to the temple, making everyone around happy and turning the small
Gōtoku-ji temple into one of the most prosperous and largest places of worship in the area. Since that time, cats have been considered wise and lucky spirits (in addition to all the negative things connected to them).

When I visited the location, the main temple building was already closed. But I checked out the votive tablets with prayers and the shelf were visitors place maneki nekos that can be bought at the temple office. Having recently lost my cat to myocardiopathy, it was heartbreaking to read all the ema on which people put prayers for the health and long life of their cats.

An ema with a prayer for a healthy and long life of the two cats Mai-chan and Kuri-chan.
An ema with a prayer for a healthy and long life of the two cats Mai-chan and Kuri-chan.
The place where the prayer plaques are hung. They cost ¥500 and you can write your wish on them in any language.
The place where the prayer plaques are hung. They cost ¥500 and you can write your wish on them in any language.
Maneki Nekos in all sizes can be bought at the temple office. This is the shelf where you put them after a prayer has been answered.
Maneki Nekos in all sizes can be bought at the temple office. This is the shelf where you put them after a prayer has been answered.
The Lucky Cats come in many sizes (and the larger ones cost around ¥6000, I think).
The Lucky Cats come in many sizes (and the larger ones cost around ¥6000, I think).
The shelf with the cat statues looks so beautiful. Each one represents a donation for a real cat by its owner.
The shelf with the cat statues looks so beautiful. Each one represents a donation for a real cat by its owner.
Someone put a small non-Gōtoku-ji maneki neko on the shelf, but apparently it is being tolerated.
Someone put a small non-Gōtoku-ji maneki neko on the shelf, but apparently it is being tolerated.
Even if they are damaged the cat figurines are not removed.
Even if they are damaged the cat figurines are not removed.
Another non-Gōtoku-ji cat that is hidden behind all the regular maneki neko.
Another non-Gōtoku-ji cat that is hidden behind all the regular maneki neko.
Also on the temple grounds there is large cemetery with many old and impressive graves.
Also on the temple grounds there is large cemetery with many old and impressive graves.
 Posted by at 19:59
May 152010
 

The biannual Design Festa Event is the largest arts and design fair in Asia. Thousands of exhibitors from all over the world present their art, covering all kinds of genres, styles and techniques. Tens of thousand of visitors flock to Tokyo Big Sight for two days to look for new ideas, purchase beautiful stuff (everything from jewelery, dolls, clothing and accessories to illustrations, woodprints and postcards) and get inspired by all the creativity and excitement.

As I was a volunteer for the DF itself (doing artist interviews and visitor surveys), I had little time to enjoy the art expo myself. However, I did wander around a bit and shot whatever caught my eye. So here is a random collection of photos of amazing art I discovered at the Design Festa vol.31. Unfortunately, I did not take any notes so I cannot tell you who the respective artists were (way too little time for that). I hope you like the pictures nevertheless. My photos of the people I saw at this event can be seen here.

A huge painting of Tyrannosaurus rex skulls and skeletons.
A huge painting of Tyrannosaurus rex skulls and skeletons.
Wood carving of the Seven Lucky Gods and their Takarabune treasure ship.
Wood carving of the Seven Lucky Gods and their Takarabune treasure ship.
A stuffed albino bunny made of fine white wool.
A stuffed albino bunny made of fine white wool.
"No Music No Life" painting with a cyberpunkish theme.
"No Music No Life" painting with a cyberpunkish theme.
An alternative to the rubber chicken: A rubber cat figure.
An alternative to the rubber chicken: A rubber cat figure.
Stuffed cats with huge eyes and one wearing a kimono.
Stuffed cats with huge eyes and one wearing a kimono.
Real fishes and other small critters processed and preserved so that their bones appear colorful and suspended in some kind of fluid.
Real fishes and other small critters processed and preserved so that their bones appear colorful and suspended in some kind of fluid.
Various small paintings by Natsumi Okuda, one with a teddy bear holding a "Free Hugs" sign.
Various small paintings by Natsumi Okuda, one with a teddy bear holding a "Free Hugs" sign.
A couple of small dolls artfully arranged in a loving position.
A couple of small dolls artfully arranged in a loving position.
 Posted by at 21:21