Blogger Lisa Katayama took Kurt to Tokyo’s girl haven: the sticker picture booth.
You can download the video here.
More great design solutions that I wish we could bring back with us to the US:
Say you’re shopping in a department store with your toddler and you need to go to the bathroom… where do you stick the kid? TOTO, maker of the world’s most amazing (and complex) toilets offers another great product, attached to the corner of the stall.
The Japanese are known for being extremely considerate — but sometimes, even they need reminding. Or perhaps they’d like to politely remind their visitors? This public courtesy campaign is in train cars and stations. This is not your brain on drugs — rather, it’s a gentle, rational reminder not to be stupid:
We’ve enjoyed staying 20 stories above Shibuya, one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Tokyo. So busy, in fact, that they’ve done away with crosswalks: at the signal, hundreds of people cross every which way, then clear out completely to make way for the cars. The wash of people — like four dark waves, crashing into each other and then receding back onto the sidewalk — takes my breath away every time. Especially since I know we’d never be capable of sharing the street so efficiently and gracefully in Times Square.
- Jenny Lawton
(Shibuya on a relatively light day)
The wood is dark. The lights are dim. The tobacco fog is thick. The menu consists mainly of coffee and tea. The chairs are red velvet, each with its own white linen antimacassar. And nearly all the seats are turned to face loudspeakers contained in elaborate wooden cabinetry, over which Shostakovich is playing — Shostakovich from an audibly vinyl recording punctuated by heartbreaking pops and hiss. Although Lion’s two floors could easily seat 100 people, the arrival of the four of us at 5:30 yesterday increased the patron count by a third. People read, people write, one man sleeps, but no one (except the loud Americans from New York) speaks.
- Kurt Andersen
On the streets of Shibuya today: drum circles, drumming lessons, and breakdancing. We met a young radio reporter (Pejk spotted his DAT recorder) and he told us it’s the third annual Shibuya music festival, called Shibu-on.
Some video highlights: first, breakdancing unplugged – to hand drums, pan flute and didgeridoo. (No patchouli or hacky-sacks sighted.) These guys were actually pretty cool. The female dancer is probably the least girly girl I’ve seen in Shibuya so far.
And here’s a sampling of the drumming:
- Leital Molad
The motto of a fictional character of mine was All Cliches Are True. As I was reminded twice, spectacularly, during my first full day in Tokyo.
While Pejk and Jenny wandered the peaceful Yoyogi park, I hit the streets of Shibuya with our our freelance reporter Lisa Katayama. Lisa is working on a piece about a new generation of Japanese female artists who are playing with female archetypes – like the schoolgirl – in all kinds of fun and twisted ways. (More on that later.) Shibuya is a place where throngs of teenage girls flock after school, so we hit some hot spots with the girl culture expert Daisuke Okabe.
He took us to a “purikura” arcade – a storefront filled with photo booths. But this ain’t your grandma’s photo booth – each one has a special theme, like “princess” or “glitter.” You pose in front of a green screen, then go to a computer where you can pimp out your pictures with all kinds of graphics and colors. After spending 5 minutes touching them up, you get a printout. They are microscopic! You’d think after all that effort you’d want a poster or a t-shirt, or at least a 5×7. But apparently, you aren’t cool unless you do this with your best friends at least once a week. We managed to get ours done without too many stares.
- Leital Molad
For Tokyo’s size, density, and sprawl (those last 2 things might sound contradictory, but here they’re not), it has tons of parks — big parks, that are astounding both in how carefully they’re kept, and in their ability to block out the bustling city around them. Take Yoyogi Park in Shibuya. It’s vast, manicured, and serene — on the weekends, it’s apparently hopping with cos-players and street musicians. But today, the other people visiting (besides Pejk and me) were an odd assortment of homeless folks and teams of young people doing fashion photo shoots. The landscape pulsed with the caw of crows and other noisy birds — and one other sound… a haunting sort of moan that reverberated off the ginko trees.
We followed the sound into a corner of the park — there, we found a man methodically pacing in circles, breathing deeply and blowing into a giant conch shell. He turned out to be a self-described mountain monk who spends most of his time in the city, but plays the conch as a means of focusing and liberating his spirit… (more details to come)
Later, we made our way to Meiji-Jingu, which some consider to be Japan’s most important Shinto shrine. There we ran into 2 wedding processions — and dozens of tots celebrating (we think) the holiday of Shichi-go-san (7-5-3), which marks the occasion of these age milestones. Although the kids were carefully dressed in beautiful kimono (the girls’ hairstyles alone were astounding), the normally quiet complex was punctuated by the click clack of their traditional sandals: like kids everywhere, when they saw the big open space, they couldn’t help but take off running through it. (See our flickr page for a big dose of adorableness.)
Kurt just got in to the city today — more from him soon.
- Jenny Lawton
After 14 hours on the plane (and nearly 2 hours on the “Limo Bus”), 360 Team Japan is officially in Tokyo. We’re staying in the heart of Shibuya, the hip and happening “ground zero for youth culture.” (so says LP, and we’re happy to confirm!) Neon, crowds, aesthetic delights overwhelm (think “Lost in Translation”), especially culinary delights: as our fixers David and Shizu explained, while New York City has about 9,000 licensed restaurants, Tokyo has somewhere around 65,000. Tonight, we picked a traditional restaurant (tatame mats, woodwork, rock garden) 11 floors above the throng. (Check out our flickr page to see our absolutely heavenly first meal.)
But the combination of jet-lag and culture shock is sending this gaijin to bed early (not bad after being up for 24 hours) — after riding our hotel’s elevators up and down a couple more times.
- Jenny Lawton