Tokyo Blog, Tokyo Story

The blog of Stephen David Smith, Tokyo, Japan 2018

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Enter The Void – Opening Credits

Although the actual film itself is horribly acted, farcical and depicts Tokyo in such a way as to miss the point entirely, the opening credits of Gaspar Noe’s new movie Enter The Void are worth the price of entry by themselves.


iPhone Castlevania Encore of the Night

iPhone Castlevania Encore of the Night

If you’ve played the original PS1 version of this game, you have to get this iPhone version! It’s based on the cult Konami classic Castlevania – Symphony of the Night, famous for its musical score (hence the title). This new iPhone version is actually a puzzle-based RPG, unlike the original which was an action RPG platform game, but it still retains the original music! I was going to play this game whilst travelling on the Tokyo Metro, but I ended up playing it at every opportunity, as should you.
Download Castlevania Encore of the Night from the App Store


‘The Queen’ Doll by BEAMS

BEAMS The Queen Doll

Look what a friend came across when she was reading the new BEAMS catalogue. Yes, in other fashion/retail news, BEAMS have released a vinyl toy of The Queen, strangely entitled Gimmick Doll. It can’t be found online as of yet, but if you drop into a store, you can pick up a Spring/Summer 2010 catalogue free of charge. What I think is awesome is you can even get it in various colourways!


Uniqlo x Domino Records T-Shirts: Four Tet

Uniqlo Four Tet T-Shirt

I was in the Ginza Uniqlo store, recently expanded with a dedicated building for men, this is now one of the best Uniqlo stores in the city (the others being Shinjuku, and the newly opened Shibuya Dougenzaka store). Whilst browsing I saw the new Uniqlo x Domino Records collab featuring T-shirts of The Kills and Four Tet. I love Uniqlo and I love Four Tet, so this is a win-win situation for me this spring. Plus, they only cost ¥1500 (£11 / $16)! Perfect wear for Hanami season. Visit the Domino Records website.

UPDATE: If you head to the Ginza store and are wondering where the +J range has got to, you can find it on the 5th floor of the women’s building next door.


Karigurashi no Arrietty

Karigurashi no Arrietty

There’s a new Studio Ghibli movie coming out and it looks to be loosely based on the classic, British children’s book The Borrowers. This isn’t the first time a Ghibli movie has been based on children’s books written in the UK either; Howl’s Moving Castle was based on a book written by Diana Wynne Jones.

The title of the movie is going to be 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (Karigurashi no Arrietty) which translates as Arrietty the Borrower – the official website is here, for what it’s worth. It will be directed by Hiroaki Yonebayashi, and not by the great Hayao Miyazaki, although Miyazaki will be responsible for writing the script. Apparently, the idea for the movie has been discussed before a long time ago by Miyazaki and his team, but only now is it being put into production. Miyazaki stepping back from the directing duties is interesting, as he has already retired once before and looked to be trying to appoint individuals capable of carrying his legacy forward, most famous of which being his son, Goro Miyazaki who took directorial duties on the movie Gedo Senki – Tales from Earthsea (which was also loosely based on a series of books by American author, Ursula K. Le Guin). As he relinquishes control on Karigurashi no Arietty it will be interesting to see if he will be able to keep his hands off the drawings and animation all the way through production, without seizing control of at least one of these aspects as he has been alledged to have done on past features (where he was supposedly not going to be involved in either).

Finally, the story (in a nutshell) is going to be about a boy living in a house in Koganei, Tokyo (the real-life location of Studio Ghibli) who has a tiny girl called Arrietty living under the floorboards of his house, and presumably she ‘borrows’ stuff.


Naoto Fukasawa at 21_21 Design Sight

Naoto Fukasawa at 21_21 Design Sight

Naoto Fukasawa is one of the most well renowned industrial designers in Japan. Most people will know his work through MUJI (Mujirushi Ryohin Keikaku), the Japanese lifestyle goods retailer, having been responsible for their famous wall-mounted CD player along with a raft of other products. Anyone wanting to get an overview of his output to date should get down to 21_21 Design Sight at Tokyo Midtown between October 16 and January 31 for an exhibition called The Outline, featuring approximately 100 of Naoto Fukasawa’s product designs in photographs taken by Tamotsu Fujii.


The Journey

This is another musical interlude. No footage to speak of here, just Aphex Twin’s sublime remix of The Gentle People’s track ‘The Journey’. This track can be found on the 26 Mixes for Cash compilation by Aphex Twin on WARP.


Asahi – The Master

Asahi - The Master

Oh boy, what an awesome name! This beer has come out, possibly to coincide with the Tokyo Oktoberfest in Hibiya Park, which I’ve already been to twice since it opened a week ago. On the TV commercial they sing the classic German beer drinking song, and then toast using the german ‘Prost!’. Of course, I was straight down the shop as soon as I saw the commercial, to try out this all malt pilsner from Asahi Breweries. I have to admit, it’s very, very good, but it still lacks the sweetness of the german beer, in fact it’s very dry. This seems to be a pattern that’s emerging, and relates to the Japanese aversion to sweet things in general. The strapline is not very interesting this time, also, unfortunately:

“A full-flavored 100% malt draft beer based on traditional German brewing techniques.”


Introducing The Blue Hearts

The Blue Hearts bursting out of the Shinjuku live houses and onto prime time TV in the 1980’s. I especially like the VHS tape glitches before they play.


Paul Stamets: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

Paul Stamets is a man on a mission. He’s extremely intelligent, extremely engaging, a lover of nature, and a great humanist, so it’s hard not to like him. In this video from the TED conference he’s championing the mushroom, and it’s application in saving the world. It’s interesting because he draws a parallel between the behaviour of fungus in the substrata and the internet! He also mentions an interesting fact that explains why, in sci-fi movies and animations, you always see giant mushrooms in radioactive, post-apocalyptic landscapes! You can also watch it in the extremely elegant surroundings of the TED website.

Thanks to Rebecca and Andy for this.


New T-shirts From The Wonderful! Design Works

New T-shirts From The Wonderful! Design Works

Personally, I like The Wonderful! Design Works – I own a couple of their T-shirts from previous collections. This lot and more besides are available in Beams-T and selected Beams stores now!


Nobody Sleeps Like the Japanese Do

Nobody Sleeps Like the Japanese Do

If you are on facebook, allow me to direct you to the group Nobody Sleeps Like the Japanese Do. For foreigners in Tokyo, it’s common knowledge the Japanese people can and do sleep anywhere and everywhere. Here is photographic proof of just how awesome the Japanese ability to kip actually is. I was amazed when I first arrived here. I came to the conclusion that they don’t get enough sleep during the night due to work or staying up late after work, and so they supplement their sleep with power-naps throughout the day. It should be noted that in some cases, the people in these photos are just drunk.