Work hard. Play hard. A field trip to the airport – with schoolbags visible from space. My Japanese kindergarten doesn’t do things by halves. Right now the nen-chos are getting ready for their happyokai or ‘performance festival’: an all-day affair that will see each class perform a 30-minute play – in English. These kids are five and six years old. Some might say it’s a lot of pressure, and I guess it is – but moreso on all the teachers who […]
Like the little stream Making its way Through the mossy crevices I, too, quietly Turn clear and transparent. – Ryōkan Colorful leaves (koyo) are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring. This is a time to seek out silent gardens: to sit motionless among the lonely reds and yellows of nature.
Introducing OMEILAND, the extreme noise crew destroying Tokyo one scream at a time… Omeiland [ 汚名ランド ] is an extreme noise crew based in Tokyo. Their chaotic public appearances are visually and sonically violent, regularly shut down by the cops when things get too extreme. I randomly saw Omeiland ‘perform’ last night as I was walking to Shinjuku station. The look on some of the unsuspecting pensioners’ faces was priceless. Japan is no stranger to the harsh, dark world of noise and […]
“Bring them ramen until they can’t eat any more.” A surreal evening at Tokyo’s annual noodle extravaganza. “Bring them ramen until they can’t eat any more.” Surely these words are every noodle-lover’s fantasy: especially when they come straight from the mouth of Shigemi Kawahara, the CEO and founder of Ippudo, one of the most famous ramen chains in the world. I’m just back from this year’s Tokyo Ramen Show and to say it was a bit of a surreal experience would […]
Dust, blood, heat, humidity. Village life doesn’t get much purer than a local Burmese market. One thing has always puzzled me whilst travelling around SE Asia: how the hell local people don’t get sick all the time. All over the continent, meat and produce is prepared in such a way that goes against everything our little western minds have been taught from a young age. There are no rubber gloves or hygiene certificates here. Meat is hacked up on wooden […]
A while back I wrote a narrative piece about Takuhiro: a fictional character based upon the real life rockabilly dancers of Harajuku in Tokyo. The story was picked up by the BBC and narrated for a Radio 4 programme about identity. You can listen to it below.
It must be November as the vending machines have started to serve hot drinks again. I put my hand in my pocket and pull out a solitary 100 yen coin. It’s scuffed and has been well used; a small piece of metallic history on a neverending journey. Where has it been? What has it seen, this little coin? I turn it over in my hands, wondering if it is happy. This coin has seen many things, stolen moments lost in […]
Trans Arts is back. The format may have changed – but it still packs a punch. Centering around the site of the former Tokyo Denki University, Trans Arts Tokyo is a unique project which last year saw the participation of 300 artists and attracted over 10,000 visitors. It’s the most chaotic and creative arts event in the city – and this year I was kindly asked by Tokyo Art Beat to snoop about and give my opinion. You can read my full […]
Tsugi wa doko. Where to next? It’s a question that’s always on my mind. I can’t get rid of it, and come to think of it, it’s always been there. While other kids were sticking posters of tits and footballers to their bedroom walls, I was down the local library photocopying pages from an atlas to stick to mine. Granted, I had tits and footballers too, but I also had a rather odd life-sized poster of a famous Swiss skiier […]