This Week in Tokyo – 29 September 2020
Welcome to another edition of ‘This Week in Tokyo’! ‘This Week in Tokyo’ is a review of the Maction Planet week that was and a look ahead to what’s coming up in the city. Check out photos from our adventures and read insights into our explorations as we get under the skin of the World’s Greatest Metropolis, and beyond. This week’s edition is hosted by Mac, our Founder and Lead Guide. This week: #391045428; Goodbye Sony Square Shibuya Project; Important Cultural Cat; Art for COVID times and “Portrait of a Tour Guide during a Pandemic”.
Featured image – #391045428: The Tokyu Toyoko Department Store at Shibuya Station, whose predecessor opened in 1934, has closed. The West and South Buildings of the department store will be dismantled and the area redeveloped. How best to use a space that is about to be demolished? Host one of the country’s largest legal graffiti projects, of course! Artworks drawn overnight on 23 September were on display for 3 days. The hashtag #391045428 was everywhere. What does it mean? Well, in Japanese linguistic numerology, 39 means Thank you, 1045 means Toyoko and 428 stands for Shibuya… which is what the dog, Hachiko, in the photo is saying. The 20-year Shibuya redevelopment project continues apace, scheduled for completion in 2027.
Goodbye Sony Square Shibuya Project: Speaking of goodbyes, and dogs, the Sony Square Shibuya Project in MODI shut down on Sunday 27 September, which means we won’t be seeing Shibumaru again. Here’s a photo to remember him by, taken on 24 September. Thank you to the staff at SSSP for the fun times they helped me create for my tour guests.
Important Cultural Cat: On a trip to Numazu, artist Takeuchi Seiho came across a speckled cat and was so taken with it that he acquired it from its owner. He brought the cat home to Kyoto, where he did a succession of photographs and sketches before completing this work. There is something very lifelike about the posted and the expression of the cat that clearly differentiates this work from earlier representations of animals in Nihonga. Even though Seiho still used traditional pictorial expressions, for example, the technique of applying gold paint to the pupil and the fur, he is also pioneering a new style of animal painting. ‘Tabby Cat’ dates from 1924 and is an Important Cultural Property. It is on display at the Yamatane Museum of Art from 19 September to 15 November 2020 as part of their special exhibition ‘Takeuchi Seiho’s Tabby Cat and an Animal Paradise’. I was honoured to be invited to the press day this week and I highly encourage any Tokyo residents reading this to go.
Art for COVID times: This year is the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Nerima Art Museum. To celebrate, they held an exhibition, ‘Re Construction’, that reinterpreted its collection in a new light.
Four artists – Satoru Aoyama, Maki Ohkojima, Motohiro Tomii, and Manika Nagare – were asked to create works that were reconstructed from the works in the museum.
Artist Satoru Aoyama was born in 1973 in Tokyo. He graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London with a BA in textiles in 1998. In 2001 he attained an MFA in fibre and material study form the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He lives and works in Tokyo, employing industrial-use sewing machines and making his characteristic embroidery works. His pieces were influences by Kwak Duck-jun’s “Presidential Series”.
Upon entering Aoyama’s room, the museum attendant gets up and leaves this cap and tape measure on the chair they have been sitting on. You’re immediately drawn to it, and on closer inspection you realise it is very much art in the time of COVID-19!
“Portrait of a Tour Guide during a Pandemic”: Chef Koji Kawaguchi snapped this candid shot of me in between the second and third sessions of our online cooking masterclass on Sunday 27 September. He caught me working on this week’s ‘This Week in Tokyo’. In a wonderful circular reference, this photo has ended up in it. The photo is taken at Hinokicho Lab, this latest private dining venture. Chef Koji knows how to make me happy, which is why this industrial-sized bowl of cucumbers is on my right. Out of shot is the delicious Niigata miso I was dipping them in. On the counter are some Maction Planet leather goods which the multi-talented Michelin-honoured chef has made alongside a Maction Planet-branded box of his patented ‘Lotus Sweets’ original deserts, which were given to Maction Planet guests who went to his former restaurant Yotaro. The black marble counter is new and has been installed to provide continuity with Yotaro.
The smile I have is one of a job done right. I’d just received feedback from some of the participants that joined that they loved the first and second sessions of the cooking class. I was very much looking forward to the third session about to start in 2.5 hours at time of typing!
Fast forward to Sunday evening and here’s Chef Koji and I toasting our amazing guests from all over the world who joined our three sessions. Thank you so much for your support.
Kawaguchi-san and I have some ideas for our next masterclass we shared with our masterclass guests. The reception was very enthusiastic, so you shall be hearing about these soon!
Between now and then, we have our online interactive Katsu Curry cooking class on 11 October. Spots are filling up fast for that one!
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