Tokyo Blog, Tokyo Story

The blog of Stephen David Smith, Tokyo, Japan 2018

Now Viewing: All Posts for tag "gallery"

Ryoji Ikeda

I recently discovered a sound artist I really liked called Ryoji Ikeda, who is currently based in Paris but originally from Gifu, Japan. His work caught my eye when I was browsing YouTube as the aesthetic he uses is very glitch. His visualisations of sound are in fact the product of computer programs interpreting raw sound such as sine waves, noise and signals in order to created harsh static imagery and sublime monochromatic geometric patterns. When I saw it I remembered wondering if Squarepusher may have taken inspiration from this for his recent performances. Here is a video of Ryoji’s work:

Amazing, isn’t it? He has also released albums of his music on various record labels, but it’s not easy listening by any means!


Katsuhiro Otomo / AKIRA Exhibition – Gengaten

For me this must be the exhibition of the century: a 3,000 piece gallery display of the work of Katsuhiro Otomo, creator of the legendary AKIRA manga and, of course, animated adaptation. Also on display will be Kaneda’s famous red bike, and I’ve heard they even let you sit on it! The red jacket is also available, and you can wear it too apparently. Included in the exhibition are ALL of the original pages and drawings that were used to create the whole manga series of books, some 2,300 of them. The exhibition is being held at 3331 Arts Chiyoda which is a gallery converted from a high school located not too far from Akihabara, north of Suehirocho metro station on the Ginza line. It runs until the end of May, so surely this one is not to be missed. It’s probably worth coming from overseas especially to just see this exhibition! All proceeds will go to charities supporting victims of the Tohoku disaster.


Beat Takeshi Kitano, Gosse de Peintre

Well this is like a dream come true – never thought I’d get to see the legendary paintings that featured in Takeshi Kitano’s movie masterpiece Hanabi (Fireworks), but now it looks like it’s actually going to happen. With news of his exhibition in Tokyo opening 11th March being broadcast on TV and advertised on posters on the metro, this will be a fairly high profile showcase of his paintings at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Shinjuku.

It’s going to feature paintings such as this:

I don’t know if his painting entitled ‘Jisatsu’ (Suicide) will be on show, which is unfortunate as it’s one of my favourites, but this one, also from the movie Hanabi, will be:

Anyway, it all equates to a must-see, don’t-miss exhibition which runs until 2nd September.


METABOLISM – The City Of The Future

Metabolism, Mori Art Museum

I don’t know a great deal about architecture but I know what I like, and I’ve expressed love for the Nakagin Capsule Tower on more than one occasion on this very blog, so I couldn’t believe my luck when I heard about the METABOLISM – The City Of The Future exhibition at Mori Art Museum in Roppongi, featuring my favourite building. Not only could you see design drawings and advertisements for the Capsule Tower from the 70’s, but there was also a short film detailing the design and construction of the building and featuring interviews with a dapper, younger-day Kisho Kurokawa, the man behind the building. Moreover, there were buildings, designs on cities, marine cities and enormously ambitious living configurations (most of which have never been constructed) by a group of Kisho Kurokawa’s contemporaries of the Metabolism movement I’d never heard of. The exhibition also put on display the original architectural models, now practically antiques. The exhibition is as much about post-war to present-day graphic design as it is about architecture, so I was drooling over a wall filled with the participating countries’ pamphlets for the 1970 World Expo in Osaka. As well as being beside myself with joy at seeing the making of Nakagin Capsule Tower on the big screen, I was also made aware of buildings in Japan designed in a similar vein that I had never seen before, a couple of which are located in Kyoto. So, I’ve decided to take a trip to Kyoto as soon as I can. No need to rush, but do go and see this exhibition which is open until 15th Jan 2012.


Tokyobike Gallery

Tokyo Bike Gallery

I finally made it down to Tokyo Bike Gallery in Nezu/Yanaka, Tokyo this past Tuesday and it was a really worthwhile trip. The place is pretty small and really serves as a showroom for their current line of bikes which can be found on their site here. You can also rent bikes for the day, although not their sporty range, only the town cruisers. When I entered the shop a young guy wearing a hat came out from the back and I asked him if I could take some photos and he said it was OK.

Tokyo Bike Gallery

As you can see from the photo, there are bike frames and hanging on the walls with some built bikes on display. There are wheels hanging from the ceiling and you can pick and choose what components you want on your bike, but you will pay more. The pre-built standard colourways currently in stock work out cheaper. They also sell accessories such as bike locks, pedals, clips, keychains, etc.

After I had finished snapping the interior I asked if I could rent a bike, but it wasn’t possible to rent the kind of bike I wanted to try out, so the guy let me test-ride a couple of versions for 10 mins each. It suffices to say I fell in love immediately flying down the narrow streets and downhills towards Ueno. That was until I got a wave of paranoia as I approached a stern-faced policeman outside a Koban and it was then I decided to stop and take a picture for this blog.

Tokyo Bike Gallery

When I came back to the store the guy was waiting for me with a set-up bike from the other range. This one has gears and is quite a bit more expensive. The geared version was great, but the bike itself doesn’t look as cool, and it’s expensive. The simplicity and style of the first bike appealed to me more.

Tokyo Bike Gallery

Anyway, I’m going to pick up my new bike next week from Tokyo Bike HQ. People in the UK and Australia you can get these bikes at home too. I’m still thinking about which colour to get though. Red, purple or black?


Nakagin Capsule Tower Vol.2

Nakagin Capsule Tower Vol.2

I recently put up a new series of photographs of Nakagin Capsule Tower here in Tokyo as a follow-up to my original Nakagin Capsule Tower post from way back. The original series was shot on my old compact which I’ve since upgraded to a DSLR. The difference is huge with this new camera. The camera was in fact first bought because I was invited to display the pictures in a gallery in Berlin but I needed to re-shoot them in order to get the quality and size of print necessary for the space. That later fell through anyway, so here is the series originally intended for the gallery on my Flickr.


Visit to Muji Village

Muji Village Gallery

This has actually been on the back burner since early Spring this year, and it’s only now that I came across the great brochure pictured at the bottom of this post while rummaging through my bookcase which finally reminded that I should post this information as a continuation of my previous post on Muji Village from last year.

Well, by now, some of the new tenants should be settled into their new Muji apartments on the east side of the city. The apartments went on the market at about the same time as I visited the show homes based off-site in the gallery building you can see at the top of this post, which would have been around late February this year.

I was shown around the show home by a guy from the real estate firm collaborating with Muji on this project, Mitsubishi Jisho, and he didn’t fit the role at all. Sporting a dark blue, double-breasted suit jacket with large gold buttons, he jarred with the Muji brand image and was the picture of the slimy salesman. I wonder if he had realised that I wasn’t really planning to buy an apartment and was only there as a sort of architecture tourist?

Muji Village Model
A model showing the layout of the common space

The show home was impressive though, but the Muji aesthetic seemed to have been watered down by Mitsubishi contributing to the interiors and the furniture. This said, I still would’ve taken one in an instant should I have been in the market for a new apartment – the kitchen by itself was enough to sell me.

After the gallery visit I declined the salesman’s offer of accompanying me to the actual site and took a walk there myself to see the exterior. What I saw was nothing different to any other new apartment building in Tokyo, except it had been left plain white with patches of grey (no doubt at Muji’s request). The complex was still deserted at this time but the building work was finished inside and out. Muji Village banners were draped on the fences surrounding the grounds.

Muji Village
The fairly dull facade to the complex

Muji Village Banner
A banner on the perimeter fence

As I left the Muji Village Gallery I was given a buyers’ pack containing various goodies in a typical Muji mini tote bag – the kind of canvas ones you get in their stores. Inside was my free bottle of chilled green tea, various small pamphlets, salesman Tony’s eyesore of a business card and this great brochure (pictured below). It seems like they spared no expense printing this hard-bound, thick-spined, full-colour photo book:

Muji Village Book
Muji Village Brochure

All in all, not a bad day out.


Tokyo Art Directors Club Exhibition 2008

Tokyo Art Directors Club Exhibition 2008

After welching on the ‘World in Miniature’ exhibition and regretting it, I don’t want to miss the 2008 ADC Exhibition. Looks like it will be a good way to get a broad overview of the last 12 months in Japan’s world of visual communication, and there’s bound to be some inspiring graphics to oogle. Catch it at Ginza Graphic Gallery until the end of the month. Via TAB


Another Foray into Laforet, and then Art


I came to Laforet once before and the place was filled with teenagers rifling through the racks of clothes and the place was in a frenzy. Shop employees were stood outside their respective stores on soapboxes shouting through megaphones or rolled up magazines “Irashiaimaseeeee!”, which means ‘welcome’, roughly. They wore baggy smocks over their ordinary clothes, sporting Japanese prints and emblems, kanji and patterns. The place was mostly school girls, actually, dressed in the classic sailor school uniform and doing the most damage at the tables of clothing in the womens clothes shops.

I didn’t have my camera with me last time, so I came again hoping to shoot some video of a typical afternoon at Laforet, but it was totally different this time. No shouting, no chaos, and not many shoppers, even. But I came across these paintings in the ground floor lobby (referred to as the 1st floor in Japan), by an artist called Dominique Dubien. They mostly consisted of small paintings on canvas of dogs, faces, small characters with iconography of hearts, planets and the like, all rendered in vivid colours. So, it’s sounding pretty ‘pop’ from the outset. I took some photos, one of which you can see in this post. I looked on Dominique Dubien’s website, and most of his work is pretty good, I liked the paintings.


I can’t say that I’m that keen on this series, or this piece of work (if it is supposed to stand as one piece of work in it’s own right, I couldn’t read the Japanese on the plaque next to the exhibit). Not because it’s not enjoyable to look at, it is pretty cool, but it reminds of how much bullshit creative work there is in Tokyo. Some rave about it in blogs or in articles on the city. I cannot stand the conceited behaviour of the artists or their plaudits. There’s definitely a self-satisfied cross section of the Tokyo hipster fraternity who hang out at certain spots in town, and visit all the galleries (of which there are many in Tokyo). Some of the work is good, some falls into the category of self-promotion, or a fake kind of artwork, about which everyone feels obliged to make absurd allusions about the intentions of the artist. It’s the same in countries all over the world, but right now I’m in Tokyo, so that’s all I can really report on right now, first hand.

I intend to go to galleries (especially the graphic design ones), and I expect to have to pass through many an event space or screening room in order to complete my tour, but I will always be honest about my feelings on the work there, if I happen to write them on the pages of this website.