A few days ago I posted about the Jimbcho used book and bookstore paradise, but I wanted to save this one for a special post – the Komiyama Book Store (小宮山書店). This is a used book store that specializes in modern art, culture, photography, subculture, philosophy and recent history, with a heavy emphasis on art and photography. I have visited hundreds of used bookstores on three continents in my life so far but nothing comes even close to this place. They have the most random, most obscure and most well curated stock of any similar store I have ever come across. For a japanophile like me this store is pretty close to paradise on Earth. Anyone who was ever something in recent Japanese art and performance history and ever published, wrote or shot anything, is bound to be represented in this store. The collections are all incredibly jumbled, and you will find an autographed biography of an obscure 1970s political figure next to a signed poster sized silver print of a portrait of Mishima Yukio, in heaps and heaps. Even if you are not particularly interested in Japan they have plenty of foreign books and related items. For the sheer variety just have a look at their list of new arrivals. It is also a great place to sell your rare art book collection, which I sometimes do and regret shortly afterwards.
The other day I made a new visit to the grand (and fairly new) Toranomon Hills in Tokyo’s Toranomon district and the streets and buildings around it. You can read about my first visit over here, in a blog post from October last year. It seems like a cool place to live and work but I haven’t yet met anyone who does that personally. Maybe some day! Apart from offices the tower itself also has a few shops and more than a handful of restaurants and cafes, most of which I haven’t yet checked out. The trick for people on a budget is to visit the fancier restaurants for lunch rather than evening dinner, as the prices are usually about half as much as dinner time. Despite being named Toranomon Hills it is actually a bit of a walk from Toranomon station, but not so far as to be daunting.
One of the most interesting high schools I have come across in Japan is the Kayo Highschool (or its full name of Ibaraki Kenritsu Kaiyo Koto Gakko, 茨城県立海洋高等学校), founded in 1934 and located just by the harbor of old Nakaminato City in Ibaraki Prefecture. Originally the school was a Fishing Experiment Station training center, and is now Japan’s only high school specialized in deep sea science and fishing. It is most well known for having a pool that is 10m deep, much deeper than most and therefore a preferred training pool for everything from marine civil engineering to rescue divers. As I didn’t actually visit the school all I did was sneak a few photos from the edge of the baseball field, but I would love to someday see the famous pool! The school also has a state of the art fishing vessel at their disposal and a training ship placed well out of the water. It reminds me of the tsunami when such sights were common place but this ship was put here by no accident.
The school is open to both male and female students, but not surprisingly all female students focus on the seafood products or marine science programs rather than the technical programs.
I think that if I could go back in time and be a high school student in Japan I would pick this school!
This year (as every year) I attended the annual Godai Art University Graduation show at the National Art Center in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. It was full of good stuff as usual and a real treat: nowhere can you get so much contemporary Japanese art as in this exhibition, for such little cost (it is free). I particularly enjoyed one sculpture, “Inisible” by Hifumi Sugata of Joshibi, a sinister looking metal sculpture. This year’s exhibition is over but there is a new on in February – early March next year! Be sure to see it!