The fair features around 180 galleries and other organizations putting their wares for collectors and the general to inspect and, hopefully, buy!
This year, G-Tokyo — previously an alternate art fair — has fused with Art Fair Tokyo to present a separate section within the main fair venue. In the past, the fair has used a separate venue or the upstairs floor to showcase younger contemporary galleries’ work. This year and last see just a single floor of the forum being used which, while spacious enough, does mean there isn’t the sense of demarcation between different kinds of art and art galleries as before.
You will need stamina to make it through all the booths!
Look out for the specially customize “art Mercedes-Benz” in the entrance.
A mini exhibition is also being held within the fair as part of its annual Artistic Practice series, this year highlighting Japanese modern painting from the late nineteenth century onwards.
If painting’s not your thing, how about the latest in animation and video art? The Japan Media Arts Festival is screening some of its 2013 award-winners at a special screen just outside the entrance to the fair.
There is also a “Discover Asia” section as well as cafe with cardboard furniture being painted by Aki Kondo.
The most exciting-looking part of the fair may also be its most esoteric. Aoyama Meguro gallery has accumulated a fantastic collection of photography by Mitsutoshi Hanaga that showcase the Japanese experimental art and theatre and dance scene from the 1960′s and 1970′s, as well as social movements and student protests from the era.
Whatever your tastes, there’s something for everyone.
Art Fair Tokyo runs from Friday March 7th to Sunday March 9th, 2014. Admission costs ¥2,000.
Fancy joining AKB48?
It was announced yesterday that the idol mega group is now recruiting a new member to join the ranks for a limited time only. The newbie will be over 30 years old, a stark contrast to the ever-younger girls in the group, typically in their teens or early twenties.
The Adult AKB48 Auditions campaign is looking for a female idol to join the group from April 12th to August 31st. She can be a professional or amateur, married or single — but she must be 30 or over.
She will be a central part of advertising fronted by AKB in the spring and summer, as well as participate in concerts, hand-shaking events and more. The whole thing is part of a campaign for Papico, an ice cream product by Glico.
We look forward to seeing an older AKB girl, though it remains to see how far they are prepared to take it. After all, Japanese women tend to look much younger than they are and there are plenty of famous models and actresses in their forties and fifties still regarded as beauties. But will AKB genuinely accepted a middle-aged “idol” or rather opt for a “still” cute-looking lady just into her thirties?
At present, the oldest member of AKB48 is Haruna Kojima (just under 26 years old). Mariko Shinoda graduated last year in July when she was a ripe old 27.
Applications for the new “older” AKB48 idol have already opened and close on March 28th. Ladies, what are you waiting for?!
This article by Frances Maeda first appeared on Tokyo Cheapo.
Make the most of the pleasant weather in Tokyo this March and April with Tokyo Cheapo’s guide to the best festivals and flowers. This is the first installment of a new bi-monthly events wrap where Tokyo Cheapo will be giving you the lowdown on what’s on (and cheap) in the coming months.
1. Hanami: Late March to Early April
For some, it’s the reason they come to Japan — to contemplate the transience of life while gazing at the cherry blossoms coloring the landscape pink. For others, it’s an opportunity to get drunk in a poetic setting. And yet for others, it’s a bit of both. Whatever you’re into, cherry blossom season is traditionally celebrated with chilled picnics under the trees, while the petals fall around you. The parks of Ueno and Sumida are popular spots for these hanami parties, as is the Chiyoda area (around the Imperial Palace) — you can even boat around the moat there. Rikugien, known for its “weeping” cherry trees, is worth a visit too.
When: Late March – Early April. You can check the sakura forecast (in Japanese) here.
2. Anime Japan 2014 (March 22nd and 23rd)
As the website says, “Here is everything about anime”. A dream come true for any self-respecting otaku, it’s two full days of all things Japanese animation. You’ll have a chance to see the newest anime, as well as enjoy screenings of classic titles. There will also be exhibitions, talks, music, all sorts of other stage events, seminars on the business side of things, and stuff you can buy. And did we mention the cosplay?
When: 22-23 March. Where: Tokyo Big Sight, East Exhibition Hall. Ariake, Koto-ku.
3. Mt Takao Fire-Walking Festival (March 9th)
You know those stories of monks walking barefoot across scorching coals? You can see that first-hand (and maybe try it too) at the Mt Takao Hiwatari Festival. Hotfoot it to Yakuouin Temple on Tokyo’s most popular mountain (less than an hour from Shinjuku) to experience the haunting sounds of conch shells, Buddhist prayers and fire (lots of it). When the flames have subsided, the monks cross the burning embers — said to be part of a path to an ultimately peaceful and enlightened existence.
More details here.
4. Kamakura Festival (April 13th to 20th)
The city of Kamakura (the one with the giant Buddha statue) in Kanagawa Prefecture was the political centre of Japan in the 12th century, and it’s hailed as the birthplace of samurai culture — giving it instant cool cred. Just an hour away from Tokyo, it’s a great spot to visit — especially during the Kamakura Matsuri (Festival). Held at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, there will be music, dance performances (on the first Sunday of the festival), mikoshi (portable shrines) and — the highlight — horseback archery (on the second Sunday). This style of archery dates back to medieval times and is said to have been used as a brain training technique for the samurai.
More details here.
5. Kanamara Penis Festival (April 6th)
What would the fertile season be like without a fertility festival? Except that, contrary to appearances, this festival is not exactly about that. The “Festival of the Steel Phallus” is held at Kanayama Shrine — where prostitutes apparently used to pray for protection from STIs, back in the day. The spot also came to be associated with prayers for prosperity, easy births and happy marriages. The festival is a celebration of all things penile (never thought we’d use that word in an article), with a big pink penis that gets paraded around, penis-shaped snacks and decorations, and even carved veggies. You’ll never look at pumpkin the same way again.
More details here.
Read on Tokyo Cheapo.
Scuba divers ordinarily use hand signals to communicate underwater but thanks to Casio Yamagata’s Logosease, now they can talk to each other almost as if they are walking on dry ground. All you need to do is face towards your fellow diver(s).
The Logosease modulates your voice into ultrasonic waves. You just tap once to start transmitting. Then you speak into the bone conduction microphone and tap to finish your transmission through the water. Your fellow diver then receives the ultrasonic waves and their Logosease unit will demodulate them via the speaker into an audible voice.
Typically if divers want to talk to each other they have to wear special face masks which are heavy and expensive. The Logosease, though, is affordable and easy to wear, and does not cover the whole face. Simply attach the device to your diving mask and you will be able to talk through the air regulator in your mouth.
The Logosease has a range from 50 to 100 meters (164-328 feet) and can function as far as 40 meters (131 feet) underwater. Of course, voice quality is not going to be as good as when speaking regularly on land but Casio still hails this as a world-first for an instrument of its kind.
It has also been approved recently as a distinctive specialty by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and promises to be an indispensable item for scuba divers around the world.
Pink Tokyo starts today, Japan’s first major adult expo. Despite a name which might be mistaken for a gay parade event at first glance (pinku in Japanese always implies porn, as in pinku eiga), this is a decidedly heterosexual event… and what an event it is!
Featuring showcases of adult industry products, appearances by both male and female performers from Japan’s booming porn world, as well as a host of “Gravure idol” models, we are also very excited about the “Eroticism Art Exhibition” section that promises to introduce erotic artworks.
The concept behind Pink Tokyo is “a robust adult/’sexy’ industry will invigorate adults and energize Japan”. We couldn’t agree more. Forget “cool Japan”. How about “hot Japan”? After all, this is the country that gave the world Orient Industry — sex dolls so realistic that even Lady Gaga got one made in her image — and Tenga, the most stylish sex toys we’ve ever seen.
It is often said that Japan has proportionately the largest porn industry in the world. With the 2020 Olympics approaching, there are various rumors flying around that Tokyo will try to introduce regulations to try to clean up areas like Kabukicho or the very generous selection of porn rags you can find in any convenience store.
But, as Pink Tokyo, say, there is “no need to hide. Concealing what it means to be adult leads to misunderstandings for children.” This is the adult industry fighting back against the threat of government encroachment in an extravaganza that celebrates adulthood. “By bringing a breath of fresh air to society, we aim to cultivate a free and sophisticated industry and raise the industry’s status.”
While there are many major adult expos overseas, Japan, despite the scale of its porn business (not to mention the immensely visible sex industry), has never had a fully comparable event on a regular basis. There have been large adult events before. We still have fond memories of Adult Treasure Expo AET at Makuhari Messe in 2007, where Tenga debuted its Flip Hole sex toy, which went on to be a mega hit worldwide. Tenga itself has organized many other events in the years since, including art exhibitions and even music nights at the club Womb in Shibuya.
If the promo video is anything to go by, Pink Tokyo is set to chase and kidnap slightly overweight salaryman, and rescue them from their dull lives!
Pink Tokyo starts today and runs until Sunday March 2nd and is open to the general public.
Organizers are expecting 30,000 visitors over the three days at the Differ Ariake venue in Odaiba. Tickets on the door cost ¥3,000; you can get a discounted “couples’ ticket” (i.e. a boy and a girl) for ¥5,000.
After a teaser a few weeks ago, the official trailer has been released for “Godzilla”, the new American film adaptation of Japan’s most famous monster.
Hollywood has a very bad track record when it comes to adaptations of Japanese pop culture. From “Astro Boy” to “Dragon Ball”, “Street Fighter” and “Super Mario Bros.”, the results are typically embarrassing for all concerned and more often than not, box office bombs. They seem to do better with darker video games or horror films. The “Resident Evil” series has its fans and the first “Silent Hill” film was quite a good horror flick on its own merits, while the remakes of “The Ring” and “Ju-on: The Grudge” weren’t so poorly done.
Roland Emmerich previously laid waste to the Godzilla franchise in 1998 with a notoriously cringe-worthy and stupid film adaptation. It was a literally a disaster movie.
In these post-Christopher Nolan days, though, Hollywood blockbusters are darker and grittier, so expect more handheld CGI shots. And if the tone is anything to go by in the trailer, lead actor Bryan Cranston will bring a raw emotion to the film that was utterly lacking in the comedic Emmerich film.
The studio sells its new version of Toho’s monster classic like this:
“An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.”
Here’s the official trailer.
It will be released in US theaters on May 16th (in other words, the first blockbuster of the summer season) and will be shown in 3D.
Directed by Gareth Edwards, the man who put a micro budget to very good use in his independent cult hit “Monsters”, this time he is working with $160 million, which must have been a bit of a change. With its distinguished cast of Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn and Sally Hawkins, the film is clearly aiming for serious dramatic elements on top of the special effects. Youngsters get eye candy in the shape of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen to keep them occupied, while Ken Watanabe flies the Japanese flag for the film.
In the new telling, the A-bomb “tests” in the Pacific were apparently attempts to wipe out the monster. But they failed. And now he is back to wreck havoc on mankind, specifically New York.
After failing so dismally in 1998, we hope Hollywood has learnt its lesson.
What will Japanese audiences make of the new version? Having only moderately flocked to recent Hollywood fare that offered “Japanese” settings like “47 Ronin” and “The Wolverine”, this time the film doesn’t even have that going for it since the action has been transplanted to American soil. Sure, many will be curious what the monster looks like and Ken Watanabe has plenty of local fans, but ultimately the success of the movie in Japan will depend on the quality.
It’s no secret that we hate the policy that many Japanese hotels, hot springs, pools and beaches have regarding tattoos (irezumi or shisei).
The out-dated custom bans inked visitors from either enjoying their facilities or at least displaying their tattoo(s) while doing so. Ostensibly it is to show that the facilities do not accept Yakuza (gangsters) on their premises, since Yakuza are famous for their tattoos (similarly to the Russian mafia).
However, the Yakuza do go to baths which they control — or even if they don’t own it, the staff would be far too scared to actually try to prevent a gangster from jumping into the tub. So this rule ultimately only affects and inconveniences ordinary people.
More and more Japanese people have tattoos as their stigma and criminal association has decreased over the years. And of course, many foreigners with no background in Japan will innocently believe they can enjoy the waters at a famous hot spring or deluxe hotel without the need to worry about the artistic ink on their body. This frequently leads to so-called “cultural clashes” between fussy members of staff and bemused tourists.
The rules have to change. It’s not “Japanese culture” and is not a reflection of contemporary society.
One indication that it’s not only foreigners who bang on about this problem is Tattoo Spot, a website that introduces bathing facilities and tells you where tattoos are accepted. At time of writing there are over 900 listings, all user-sourced and regularly updated.
You can search by region or by facility type. There are listings for onsen (hot springs), saunas, sento (public baths), swimming pools, tanning salons, gyms and hotels.
The rating system is neat. There is a measly one star for places that refuse customers with tattoos; two stars is where they say you cannot enter even though there are actually many tattooed guests; three stars means it’s okay with a tattoo as long as you hide it; four stars is “case-by-case”; and the full five stars are awarded to forward-thinking places that do not care if you have a tattoo or not.
While the site is only in Japanese, no doubt non-speakers can get by with a browser translator tool.
[Hat tip to Metropolis]
In this hardened digital age, promoting people to read poetry can be an unenviable task. While Twitter has brought the epigram into the modern era, we seem to have less and less patience.
It is hard to imagine a digital native penning “The Waste Land” or any of the other lengthy, opaque works of poetry that burst onto the scene around a century ago. But perhaps we need to wait for the new generation to find its feet.
One young Japanese poet has found a novel way to promote her poetry online and it also borrows heavily from a retro video game that we surely all know and love.
Shi Shooting (Poetry Shooting) is a website for the work of Tahi Saihate. Also a novelist, she has won several awards for her verses.
She came up with a brilliant way to introduce her poetry to audiences by having the words converted into the spaceships in a “Space Invaders”-style game in which you can control laser cannons to blast her poems to smithereens before their projectiles hit you or they reach the bottom. Yes, in a nutshell, rather than those waves of merciless advancing aliens you have Saihate’s lyrics to destroy — and presumably read as well.
The classic two-dimensional look is faithfully retained, though this time with just black (both the laser cannons, defense bunkers and poetry “invaders”) against a plain white background. You’ll be pleased to see the iconic pixellated design is also still there, along with the annoying habit the invaders have for speeding up as they get closer.
When it’s game over, the message on the screen even says “Thank you for reading”. We’re not sure how much actual reading most players will get when visiting the website (avoiding the projectiles and aiming for that pesky final comma that needs blasting surely is time-consuming enough!), but it is certainly a great way to get people to remember your work and interact with it in a fresh way.
Give it a try — you’ll be hooked!
Girls with guns? Sounds like a cheap porno but this is actually a minor fashion craze right now, thanks to SG-Fashion-Snap.com, which is collating images of male and female participants in Airsoft (called “survival game” in Japan), all decked out in their camouflage, gear and, of course, weaponry.
“Make yourself look neat even when you are in the combat,” says the “survival game fashion snap” website. Street snaps have been a fixture of the Japanese fashion publishing (print and digital) for years now and this is an esoteric twist on that.
As with usual street snaps, these gun-toting ladies come with information on their name age, occupation, “career” (surely as a survival gamer), team name and favorite brand.
We love how this is both tough, cute and stylish at the same time. Never have girls in tactical boots looked this good.
Not to be outdone, there are plenty of guys too. The men also like to differentiate their style of combat gear (“Arabic”, “SEALS” etc).
And for the armaments purists out there, SGFS even features very indulgent snaps just of the guns!
We wonder if the Self-Defense Force is on a recruitment drive right now?