The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'tokyo'
Yesterday, Your Humble Correspondent went to the south bank of the Thames and took part in an unreliable tour of
London Tokyo, given by the performance artist/writer/musician Momus and his partner Hisae.
I only saw part of it, joining the tour in the afternoon. Momus and Hisae were attired in what looked like Japanese or Korean uniforms (which, Momus stressed, were not trendy-minimalist Muji products) and carrying 1950s-vintage megaphones through which they talked to a small crowd which had assembled around them, describing to them which part of Tokyo they are in. Well, Momus did most of the talking, with Hisae adding a native Japanese perspective; some of the time (particularly towards the end, when things got a bit more absurd), their act seemed like a traditional comic/straight-man music-hall duo.
The actual content was fairly interesting; we were informed that the National Theatre was actually a trendy shopping centre whose top floor was an art gallery/museum, where yesterday's unsold fashions ended up, and that the mayor of Tokyo makes his way up the river by speedboat at 6pm every day. Other than that, Momus expounded on his theories on Japanese culture and its similarities/differences with British and European cultures (European individualism vs. Asian collectivism/"superlegitimacy", the British stiff upper lip and the Japanese bushidō (which is apparently making a resurgence), the falsehood of the assumption that modernism is Westernism, and the rising Gini index in Japan and declining originality of Japanese street fashion (apparently it's all Uniqlo and The Gap in Tokyo nowadays)).
The latest must-have accessory on the Tokyo subway is a portable subway strap. Such a strap, of course, doesn't provide support, but it does keep one's hands occupied, and provides proof that one is not using them to grope women in the crush (something which happens a lot).
According to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, Tokyo is still the world's most expensive city; in second place is Oslo; Reykjavík is at #4, London is down from #6 to #8, and New York has slipped to #35 (behind Wellington, New Zealand). The cheapest city surveyed was Tehran.
In Tokyo, where space is at a premium, they now have underground farms under the city:
Perhaps, if/when the oil crash causes the collapse of transport-based economies, such farms beneath farmland-deprived cities may help keep them somewhat viable.
Via bOING bOING, a gonzo guide to weird stuff to see in Tokyo; from prog-rock cafés to rockabilly shopping malls, from places to people-watch to shops selling all sorts of bizarre fetish materials, there's a lot here for the connoisseur of the extreme and the strange.
The Tokyo area of Akihabara started out as a mecca of electronics shops (think something like Tottenham Court Road, only bigger); gradually, as a subculture of otaku evolved around the area, its focus has mutated from being just about electronics and computers to anime costume shops and venues catering for the bizarre, quasi-sexual fetishes of the truly hardcore:
Psychologists say these "otaku" or geeks are regressive, have poor social ability, and have never fully matured as adults. "Therefore, they are not good at communicating with others, cannot date real human beings, and instead adore an imaginary character," said one.
Self-confessed "super otaku" Tetsuto Fujiyama says, "There are five different kinds of geeks in Akihabara. The oldest denizens are the electric appliance geeks, who come to purchase electronic parts and other equipment. Next are the PC geeks, who like to build their own original computers that run as fast as possible. Third are TV animation geeks whose brains can't distinguish between reality and the animation. The fourth group are the magazine geeks who have made original animation fantasy stories influenced from TV and game animation and publish them in small magazines circulated among themselves. The last group are those geeks who love to play video games in which erotic animation is used."
"They are not ImeCla girls (Image Clubs in which you can act out your fantasy in a situational setting as nurse-patient, teacher-student, commuters in packed train and so on). Nor is it a a 'no-pan' cafe (where mini-skirted waitresses with no panties serve customers). These shops at Akihabara are not in the sex business because for geeks, fantasizing is much more important than actually doing anything with girls."
(via bOING bOING)
Japanese journalist buys a vintage map of Tokyo, and notices inconsistencies between the locations of subway lines. Digging a little deeper, he comes to the conclusion that there is a secret network of tunnels beneath Tokyo, dating back decades, whose existence is still being actively covered up by governmental authorities. So he publishes a book about this, only to find himself virtually blacklisted by the media. Is Shun Akiba a paranoid crackpot of some sort (like the ones you hear complaining that the establishment is "suppressing" their revolutionary new theory of physics), or is there really a conspiracy of silence about the tunnels under Tokyo? (I recall that Japan doesn't have a strong tradition of transparency in government.)