with kobachan and tarokun in tokyo


The day after Tomo’s wedding I checked out of the Shinagawa Prince and down to Shinegawa Station where I met Kobachan and Tarokun, both former members of the Osaka Daigaku photo club. They live in Tokyo now where Kobachan works as an X-ray technician and Tarokun works as a network administrator. More importantly, they are totally cool and totally nice people and we had a really good time together while they showed me around parts of Tokyo that I hadn’t seen yet.

First we went to Aoyama, where there are lots of boutiques, as well as many flagship stores such as Aoyama’s famous Prada outlet. In fact, the skin of this store is really amazing (it’s the kind of building that makes you feel different when you look at it), though of course inside it’s still just Prada.

After that we walked along Omote-sando for awhile, and briefly checked out Tadao Ando’s Omote-sando Hills project, which was simply jam-packed with people. Near Omote-sando Hills is Nadiff, a small arts bookstore and gallery where we were able to see “In My Room,” an exhibit of photographs by Ryudai Takano. We were also able to see Takano himself, who was giving a talk, but of course my Japanese is not really good enough to follow along. Takano takes photographs of ‘women’ who slowly remove their clothes to unveil a male body beneath. But the process of watching this unveiling leads to an interesting effect — the qualities of ‘maleness’ that are aligned with the ‘male’ body have been transformed so that the ‘unveiling’ isn’t a revelation of the ‘true’ form underneath, but rather a de-layering of surface that reveals yet another layer that is never final. My favorite part of the show was the stack of flip books that were available for sale and I’ll probably always regret not having picked one up.

After going to Nadiff, we walked along Killer-dori (yes, there really is a street called Killer-dori) until we reached the Watarium (a.k.a. Watari Museum of Contemporary Art), which was holding a show that concentrated on photography. Unfortunately I wasn’t taking good notes, and the museum website is all in Japanese, but there was an excellent series of photographs by Allen Ginsberg in addition to a million other fantastic works on display as well. Perhaps our favorite piece, however, was a series of animations by Ryoko Aoki and Ito Zon. These were incredible, like watching rooms emerging from rooms. It was kind of like watching a new thing growing out of an old thing, but the new thing just wasn’t quite what you expected it to be.

After the museum it was time for me to grab the train back to Osaka. It was raining and the rain was knocking all the blossoms off of the trees. In Japanese, the falling blossoms in the wind are called “hanafubuki,” or ‘blossom blizzard.’

As I rode the train back to Osaka I thought about how lucky I was to have Kobachan and Tarokun show me a Tokyo art blizzard.

It’s Shinegawa station where I met Kobachan and Tarokun. It kind of reminds me of THX1138.

It’s the Prada building.


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