“Schoolgirl Animals” is an exhibition currently running at BAMI Gallery in Kyoto until May 31st, featuring an array of beguiling images of female school students in their uniforms and other schoolgirl paraphernalia, but with incongruous animal heads.
The solo exhibition showcases the work of Takumi Kama. His stunning portraits include schoolgirls combined with a zebra, cheetah, monkeys, giraffe, deer, and more.
Schoolgirls are a continual obsession for artists and designers in Japan, especially their uniform as a motif.
Photographers like Yuki Aoyama have made whole careers out of series of schoolgirl images and the results aren’t necessarily sleazy (though that taint does also, unmistakably, linger).
The recent Design Festa featured an “interchangeable schoolgirl uniform” by Maori Iguchi.
“Schoolgirl Animals” also taps into the culture in Japan for moe anthropomorphism, specifically kemonomimi. This is most famously expressed in the form of catgirl characters, where anime or illustrated figures have cat tails and cat ears (nekomimi) — something even clothes for pet-owners like to indulge in!
Get ready for “Kiss Day”.
Yes, this Saturday, May 23rd, is apparently the day of smooching, at least in Japan at any rate.
And Edition, a club in Akasaka, central Tokyo, is celebrating by asking couples to kiss, though not in the way you’d think.
May 23rd is “Kiss Day” because it’s the day that saw the release in 1946 of the first Japanese film with a kissing scene, Hatachi no seishun (20-Year-Old Youth). Not surprisingly, the scene was a decorous one by the standards of today but at the time it was a big deal.
Directed by Yasushi Sasaki and starring Kaoru Aikawa and Michiko Ikuno, the actors actually kissed each other through a gauze to protect their modesty.
Borrowing this concept, Edition’s plan is to get several hundred couples to kiss through acrylic plastic panels of see-through plastic.
The party event is expected to attract around 250 people, though you have to be aged between 20 and 35 to join in. Oh, and it costs guys ¥5,500 ($45) and girls ¥3,000 ($25). That’s an expensive kiss and we’re not even sure if this counts as getting to first base.
Who says romance is dead?
In 2011 there was also this “kiss transmission” device. While the “acrylic kiss” is certainly more low-fi, we’re not sure if it’s any less weird.
Japan actually seems obsessed with anniversaries of late, from “Condom Day” (May 6th) to “Ninja Day” (February 22nd). Every month seems to bring another oddity, though the possibilities they present for promotional events are interesting enough.
Last weekend Roppongi Art Night 2015 took over the Roppongi area for a night of art and
The events, performances and installations stretched out from sundown on April 25 to sunrise on 26th.
This year’s theme was “shining, connecting, joining in”.
Here are a few highlights.
A wall of “light boxes” made at workshops at Suntory Museum of Art.
The “Lungplant” by Tim van Cromvoirt was a street installation that “depicts a landscape with living, luminous organisms and explores the influence this landscape has on its spectators.”
The “Comic Foreground Gods Clock” transformed a regular clock tower landmark into a succession of spring deities.
The Dance Truck featured performances by Tsuyoshi Shirai, MOKK, Yukio Suzuki, JON THE DOG, Kumotaro Mukai, Mirai.Co, AEROBIX, Ippei Shintaku, Yo Nakamura x TOYOFUKU Akifumi, and Wataru Kitao.
“Emaki/Wave” by Takashi Ishida gave the usual industrial look of a car park a more interesting edge.
“TME – Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway” by Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani was a projection of footage from the Tarkovsky sci-fi classic Solaris (1972) that features a car trip on the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway, plus a parallel second screen with a contemporary “remake” of the ride.
Images via official RAN Twitter
On April 4th, Mori no Tosho Shitsu (Mori’s Library) in Shibuya will be transformed into a club for a silent disco event.
Remember Mori no Tosho Shitsu? It was the crowdfunded “book and beer” library opened by a book worm in Shibuya last year. Not only can you go there for a drink and a bite to eat, if you become a member you can borrow the books, just like a library.
While there are plenty of public libraries in Tokyo (there’s even one right in the same building as the Cosmo Planetarium), places like Mori no Tosho Shitsu attract interest because their book curation is special. You don’t go there just to see any books; you go there to see THE books the owner has selected. This is similar to the appeal of places like B&B in Shimokitazawa, Village Vanguard, and Shibuya Publishing Booksellers.
Silent discos are nothing new, not even in Japan.
But this is a silent disco inside a “library” in the heart of noisy Shibuya. How cool is that?
Audiences to the silent disco event will get to enjoy the music through wireless headphones, in the unique bibliographical surroundings of Mori no Tosho Shitsu.
If you like your drink too, you’ll be pleased to know the event is being supplied by Tokyo Craft Beer Mania. Craft beer will be available from ¥500 a glass.
Music is by DE DE MOUSE and others.
It’s also being billed as a club event, since it starts at 11pm and carries on until 5am.
Tickets cost ¥3,500.
Media Ambition Tokyo returns for another year, transforming Tokyo into a media art bonanza.
In the grandiose words of the organizers, Media Ambition Tokyo “takes an experimental approach to urban implementation.”
This is the third time Media Ambition Tokyo has been held, showcasing cutting-edge technology and art crossovers. The previous two festivals had a combined audience of 120,000 people.
The eight venues across Roppongi, Aoyama, Odaiba, Iidabashi and Shibuya include Midtown and Intersect by Lexus.
Ever worker-bee media art unit Rhizomatiks have partnered up with Lexus to create a video and sound installation inspired by the LFA supercar.
The title for the “1,220” installation might sound cryptic at first but it’s a reference to the height of the car. Visitors will lie down in a space with the same height and experience a series of landscapes passing right above them on a huge LED screen.
When we watch a screen, we first detect what we see as nothing more than light before it gradually takes form inside our brains. Light captured by our retinas travels to the visual cortex at the back of our brains, and this is where light is first recognized as an image. We are not normally aware of this process, but our emotional reactions to the images we see are triggered by the conversion that takes place in that short span. “1,200” is an attempt to have visitors experience that journey of light attaining meaning across a distance that represents the height of the Lexus LFA.
The winter is nearly over but if you feel like ice-skating artistically, you should check out “Skate Drawing” at Midtown, an interactive art piece where the paths traced by skaters on the ice are displayed on a video screen. Once again it is by Rhizomatiks.
In Shibuya, Tokyo Anarchitecture sounds like the kind of thing to get Tumblr bloggers excited:
Tokyo Anarchitecture is a photography series which evolves around space representations and experience of the reality. Breaking up then reconstructing pictures of huge urban plants shot in various spots in the world, Olivier Ratsi plays with the perception of our daily urban environment in aim to question its references.
The award for most-scary-sounding installation likely goes to “The Fifth Sleep”:
At the crossroads between video game and cinema, The Fifth Sleep is an immersive installation offering a unique experience : Giving a spectator the chance literally to travel into the interior of the most mysterious of organs, the brain. Using an HMD (head-mounted display), the spectator navigates in a 3D environment generated in real-time, and can interact in a story in which he gradually becomes the main character. The spectator thus participates in a team of scientists’ experimental project aiming to test the Proteus, a nanorobot camera that can be injected inside the human body… An unusual journey through landscapes never before observed, in the heart of a labyrinth where each of your choices will determine the patient’s fate.
Other participants include sculptor Kohei Nawa and teamLab.
The period varies per exhibition and installation event, but most start on February 11th and run until later in the month, though some events continue into March.
Want to give a special something to that special someone? But it’s not just what you give. It’s how you give.
And in Japan, the wrapping and packaging of a gift item is traditionally viewed almost as important as the content of the gift itself.
And so we get great services like this I WRAP Heart, now available at Plaza Ginza until December 25th. It allows you to gift wrap an item with your own portrait. In other words, that box or otherwise dull package will be transformed with a picture of you on the wrapping paper.
You stand in front of the camera in the store and then the staff will snap a shot of you however you want to pose. This is then printed onto special wrapping paper, which is then used to wrap up your item.
There is a small charge for the service. Small or medium size costs ¥200, while large is ¥500. Still, not much for a fast and truly personalized wrapping service (and a neat way to encourage people to give gifts at Christmas, not a tradition in Japan).
Here’s a video of a preview event they did with 400 participants.
Every year in Japan there are illumination and light displays at malls and other venues around the country. Many are elaborate. Most are expensive. But some are just out of this world.
The Abeno Tennoji Illuminage in Tennoji Park in Osaka promises to be a popular attraction for the boys — illuminations are stereotypically spots for young couples on dates — because it promises to take you back in time to the Warring States Period, when Osaka was at the fulcrum of Japanese history.
You can see Japanese warrior hero Yukimura Sanada in light, as well as a breathtaking castle entrance and blazing arch of flames. There is even a depiction of a Atakebune warship, ninjas, and a battle scene all rendered in lights. For less martial tastes, there are white cranes too.
Now running until February 1st next year, tickets cost ¥1,000.
Tennoji Park has previously hosted light spectacles but not one themed around history like this. Last year the show featured a rainbow promenade and other seasonal light attractions. Osaka Castle, the actual site of so much important stuff during the Warring States Period, itself has hosted illuminations in the past from the same organizers.
Images: Guide Travel
Japan’s biggest design showcase Tokyo Designers Week (TDW) landed again for the year in the Gaienmae Aoyama area.
We went along to check out the exhibits. Here are our highlights.
Real estate company Chintai are a regular face at TDW. Here they created a “Tokyo Merry-Go-Round” with artist Asami Kiyokawa.
At the Robot Exhibition we liked this “clapping robot”, a kind of large version of the Pachi Pachi Clappy. Maywa Denki also participated in this part of TDW, showing off their latest instrument toy, Mr Knocky.
This was more mysterious. Artist and digital sculptor Noriko Yamaguchi created the “Keitai Girl Suit Chi”, whose entire body is covered in cellphone (keitai) keypads. It was a contemplation on how touch is still important to communication.
Here we entered the Uncanny Valley. The android Asuna was a “receptionist” created by A-Lab.
This booth was very popular, a manga sticker world presented by Toyo Ink and manga-ka Shintaro Kago.
DNP and Kengo Kuma teamed up with technology that allows you to print directly onto a tree, fusing the texture of metal with wood and promising a “new materiality”.
The outdoor schools section featured this “Tanjo no Katachi” by Nihon University, a primitive representation of form itself.
Staying outside, these kids seemed to love this container installation designed by Sebastian Masuda (an art director for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).
It wasn’t all “new” stuff, though. A special pavilion was devoted to the work of Edo-era ukiyoe print artist Hokusai.
Here the Hokusai prints came into digital life. Using a special interactive app, holding up your phone brought the flat images into colorful life on your mobile screen.
Shiori Yano’s “MOTHERS MOUNTAIN” bottled up motifs of street culture.
Finally, Sato Sugamoto’s “Non-Verbal Communication” shows two “hats of thought” of two people meeting and trying to communicate.
This article by Frances Maeda first appeared on Tokyo Cheapo.
There are so many fantastic free events happening in Tokyo in November and December that it was tough choosing just five for this bimonthly events wrap. But we had to (because the editor said so). After much discount coffee-fueled deliberation, here is our pick of pure cheapo awesomeness to take you through to the new year.
1. Tokyo Chrysanthemum Exhibition: November 1st-23rd
Now in its 100th year, the Tokyo Metropolitan Tourism Chrysanthemum Exhibition is regarded as Japan’s prime event when it comes to kiku, as the delicate flowers are known in Japanese. Chrysanthemums are held in high regard in the country — the bloom is featured on Japan’s Imperial Seal and pops up on Japanese passports and in other places (including the controversial Yasukuni Shrine).
At the show you can expect top-notch blooms, and a dizzying variety of them too. There will be 2,000 displays featuring cut chrysanthemums, bonsai versions, ultra fancy bonsai versions, decoration versions, and more. You can also snag some seedlings and learn how to grow them properly (classy folk would say “cultivate” them).
More info here.
2. Asakusa Tori-no-ichi Fair: November 10th and 22nd
The Tori-no-ichi Fair is a fun traditional festival that is held at shrines and temples countrywide on Rooster (“tori”) days (following the Chinese calendar) every year. The Asakusa version has been going strong since the Edo period, when it was all about celebrating the new year. These days it’s focused on wishing for good luck and prosperity in business.
You have two chances to go this year (some years have three Rooster days in November, but those ones have a bit of an unlucky association with fires), so pick one, get yourself one of the glitzily decorated bamboo rakes, and soak up the experience. You can sample some tasty festival fare too.
Part 1 info here.
Part 2 info here.
3. Golden Ginkgo Trees: Mid-November – Mid-December
Photo by Haris Bahrudin
While some people associate them with rather unpleasant smells (yeah, just wait and see), ginkgo trees (ichou in Japanese) are undeniably beautiful and demand to be walked under in late autumn. Turning gorgeous yellows and gold, gingko leaves line paths in parks and even some of the city’s streets (some strategic planting there), making for incredible photo opportunities.
The Hachioji Ginkgo Festival is one way to enjoy the autumn colors. The Jingugaien Itcho Festival in the outer gardens of Meiji Shrine is another. Of course, you can always just roll down to your local park — these trees can be found virtually anywhere. Look out for grilled ginkgo nuts (ginnan) on the menus of Japanese pubs too — they’re a tasty and potent supposed superfood.
4. Odaiba Rainbow Fireworks: December 6th-27th
Most of Tokyo’s fireworks shows take place in the sweltering heat of summer, but Odaiba insists on being different — and we aren’t complaining. You can wrap up nice and warm and enjoy small-scale displays every Saturday evening in December. The fireworks will be going up between Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge — making for some colorful scenery.
The shows start at 7pm and last for about ten minutes. Around 1,800 shots will be fired in each one. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s sufficient to sate any Japanese fireworks show cravings you might be having.
More info and tips for the best viewing spot here.
5. Winter Comiket: December 28th-30th
Photo by Hikaru Kazushime
Comiket, the short form of “Comic Market”, is a festival of all things comic-related, drawing crowds of close to 600 000. It’s held twice a year in Tokyo — once in summer and again in the cooler season. Tens of thousands of manga artists flog their self-published dojinsha (independent) works at the event, with a huge variety of genres and styles on offer.
Entrance is free unless you want to dress up — cosplaying will set you back ¥800 (and much more on materials). You can expect a fair few wacky outfits in addition to incredibly detailed (as well as incredibly revealing) representations of characters from games, manga and anime.
More info here.
Bonus Event #1: Winter Illuminations
If you’re a fan of shiny pretty things, you’re in luck. On winter evenings, Tokyo lights up with spectacular illumination displays all over the city. Noteworthy spots to suss out include Tokyo Midtown, the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station, Shiodome and Tokyo Dome City. The colorful illumination at Rikugien Gardens is also worth seeing.
Bonus Event #2: Boroichi Market
Need to buy some cheap Christmas presents? You can’t go wrong at this gigantic flea market in Setagaya.