No matter how long I live in Tokyo I still can’t pass through Marunouchi and the Tokyo Station area without going up to the fifth floor balcony on Marubiru and taking a photo of one of my favorite Tokyo views! The work on the station building is coming along nicely, I really love this fantastic piece of architecture! While up there I also got a few snaps of close ups of the surrounding. The taxi area was pretty crowded as usual, but I am sure, this being Japan, that they have some sort of fair system in place. If you’re in the area, I really recommend catching this view!
As a kid one of my earliest memories of there being a place like Japan was watching a documentary on the legendary Takarazuka Revue, an all-female musical troupe from the western city of Takarazuka in Hyogo prefecture. Founded in 1913 as a way to attract customers to a new train line and to cash in on the popularity of western style music the troupe still operates with a sort of by-gone era grandeur that takes the western musical concept to a whole new level. Members are admitted in fierce competition as young girls and train for years to train for the role of either male or female. If you’re new to the Japanese music scene and wondering about the success of girl bands like AKB48 and similar groups, remember that it all started in with the Takarazuka Revue. During the weeks leading up to Christmas there was an exhibition and performance in both of the Marunouchi Buildings in central Tokyo. I didn’t catch any performances but I got to see the exhibition of genuine Takarazuka stage clothes. If you are seriously into musicals and ever visit Japan, a trip to the Takarazuka theater in Takarazuka City or here in Tokyo, is a must!
During the recent event of Tokyo University of Arts at Marunouchi Building I also had time to check out some more work of a few of their graduate students. Here is my absolute favorite, a series of statues, each with an individual expression and lovely head piece of strawberries and cream、by the artist Tamayo Konishi (小西珠代), called “女の子、であること”, which I would loosely translate as “Being a girl”. I don’t know anything about the artist besides her being mentioned in this PDF from her university (page 8), with a photo of her graduation piece. There is also a photo of the artist and the reasoning behind her work in this PDF. Interesting, and definitely an opinion about being female in Japan that I have heard many times before. I’d love to see more of her work!
A few days ago I passed this shop window – slash – gallery inside Tokyo’s Marunouchi Building (丸ビル). The shop, H.P. France runs this mini gallery as part of their shop promotions, giving all their brands a chance to shine. This time it was GEM Kingdom‘s turn and they created a rather spooky but wonderfully wicked mash up using their accessories and the cult-mayonnaise figure of the Kewpie doll.
This character might not be very famous in rest of the world but in Japan it is an icon, as it should since it is generally regarded as the first example of character driven product marketing in the world. And as we all know, character driven product marketing is something that the Japanese do very well. I think we can also assume that this kind of mash up is the defining art form of the 21st century so far. Enjoy!