This Month on Maction Planet – May 2024

May 2024 was a month of vibrant energy and exciting discoveries here at Maction Planet. As the city came alive with the lush greenery of early summer, our adventures ranged from Shibuya’s bustling streets to Kyoto’s tranquil temples, and everywhere in between. I had the honour of guiding both returning guests and first-time visitors, each bringing their unique perspectives and enthusiasm. It was another incredible month filled with unforgettable memories, inspiring encounters, and fantastic feedback. Let’s look back at all the highlights and memorable moments from this past month.

Featured image: While guiding Duncan and Inga around the World’s Greatest Metropolis on 22 May, I bumped into Chris Broad, one of Japan’s biggest YouTubers. ‘Nuff said.

The month kicked off with a visit to a Maid Cafe with the Molenaar family from Holland!

1 May 2024 also marked the return of Mac on Tokyo! In this edition, I interviewed Jamie Ryder, author of Japanese Fighting Heroes: Warriors, Samurai and Ronins. Amidst Shogun fever, I chatted to Jamie about what it took to produce this innovative tome.

The Tamagawa Sengen Shrine appears in Shin-Godzilla as Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers prepare for an attack on Godzilla. This shrine, over 800 years old, is a few minutes walk from Tamagawa Station. They sell Godzilla Ema (votive tablets) which very much impressed my Godzilla-loving guests on 4 May! SKREEONK!

Speaking of the big guy – it’s always fun when a new Godzilla Movie comes out, as the Godzilla at the Hotel Gracery in Kabukicho gets some company. Now we have a double meta-reference as Kong is joined by one of the stars from ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’!

In February 2024, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku began hosting a stunning projection mapping show, now certified by Guinness World Records as the largest permanent display of its kind. Covering 13,905 sqm, this nightly event features a variety of mappings inspired by Tokyo’s rich history and the lunar cycle. A recent addition, ‘Godzilla: Attack on Tokyo!’, launched on 27 April, celebrates the iconic monster franchise. The truly is no better time to be a Godzilla fan!

The Shinjuku East Exit 3D Calico Cat never gets old!

The vast majority of Maction Planet business now comes through word-of-mouth recommendations. Case in point – Debi and Harris and I got connected exactly that way, and we spent a fantastic evening together in Shibuya and beyond on 7 May.

On 11 May, I had the honour of guiding Casey and Julie around the World’s Greatest Metropolis (another word-of-mouth recommendation). We had a fantastic drink-filled day, and I was also able to get them same-day tickets to a Tokyo Yakult Swallows game at Jingu Stadium, which they tell me they thoroughly enjoyed!

Don’t want to line up at the Hachiko statue in Shibuya? Neither did Linda and family! Well, Maction Planet finds a way! It was an honour to spend a wonderful evening with this incredible crew on 16 May! Dare I say it, another recommendation for former guests! Thank YOU all for your continuous support of Maction Planet.

A new retrospective of American artist Theaster Gates opened on 24 April at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills. Titled “Afro-Mingei,” it is touted as the largest solo exhibition of a Black artist in Japan. The exhibit is expansive in scale, varied in genre, and educational in nature, offering much for viewers to contemplate.

Gates, originally trained as a ceramist, has become renowned for his transformative urban revitalization projects on Chicago’s South Side, where he converts derelict buildings into art and community spaces. His work also involves preserving Black American culture through extensive collections of art, music, and literature. Since 2004, Gates has had a personal connection to Japan, having studied pottery in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, during an international artist residency.

The term Mingei, meaning “arts of the people,” refers to a movement that elevated folk art by unnamed craftspeople. Gates’ term “Afro-Mingei” suggests a new art school, but it’s more of a personal concept and speculative proposal than a definitive promise. The exhibit shines when it doesn’t overexplain itself. Though linking Aichi and Chicago might seem unconventional, the exhibit earnestly attempts this connection.

In the final gallery, a thousand binbō tokkuri (refillable sake bottles) line the wall behind a bar, alongside a nearly 20,000-object collection from Tokoname potter Yoshihiro Koide, acquired by Gates after Koide’s passing in 2022. Also on display are custom carrying bags for Gates’ pots by Prada, a banner designed with 336-year-old textile company Hosoo, and a custom sake co-created with Sawada Shuzo, a 176-year-old Tokoname brewery, showcasing Gates’ ability to make the most unlikely of connections.

It was an honour to meet Yuta Okuda on 17 May at ROPPONGI HILLS A/D GALLERY. Okuda’s artwork is composed of stunningly vivid paints, depicting an unfolding world that weaves the chance occurrences created by the mixing of paints together with the precise inevitability of the pen. This exhibition features Okuda’s “With Gratitude” series, which has become synonymous with his work, along with new works from his “Children Watching You” series.

Born in Aichi, Japan in 1987, Okuda studied fashion design in Japan and England and worked as a designer for a fashion brand, Okuda became an artist in 2016 and has been actively participating in solo and group exhibitions in Japan. He has created miniature paintings composed only of calculated lines. In the past few years, he has focused on “flower” paintings with an emphasis on “coincidence.”

I have a lot of two tour days – an 8 to 10 hour during the day followed by a 3 or 4 hour tour in the evening. 19 May was one such day. During the day, I took Amy and family to the Sanja Matsuri. Most people would post a photo of the mikoshi (portable shrines) being paraded around the neighbourhood, but I am sure we can all agree these dogs, dressed for the festivities in traditional style, stole the show!

On 19 May, I had the honour of spending an evening with Leslie and Nick, who were on their honeymoon in Japan. Soon after this parting shot, they messaged me to tell me they were safely back in their hotel room watching Kanpai Planet! So sweet!

I was able to get hard-to-get Sumo tickets for Amy and her family so we could all watch this incredible spectacle on 20 May. A great day of bouts with many upsets.

In sumo wrestling, salt purification is a traditional ritual performed before each bout. Wrestlers scatter handfuls of salt onto the ring to cleanse it and ward off evil spirits, symbolizing purification and good fortune. This Shinto practice underscores the sport’s deep-rooted cultural and spiritual significance. I’m quite proud of this shot I took of this ritual in action!

We – the Tokyo Yakult Swallows – truly have the most spectacular sunsets at Meiji Jingu Stadium… like this one Duncan, Inga and I witnessed along with well-positioned members of the Tsubamegun on 23 May.

On 24 May, I had the pleasure of leading a tour for 16 enthusiastic Australians to the Shizuoka Distillery. Nestled in the picturesque mountains of Shizuoka Prefecture, the distillery is renowned for its artisanal whisky production which I’ve extensively reviewed on Kanpai Planet. Our group enjoyed an immersive experience, learning about the production process and tasting exceptional whiskies. It was a delightful blend of education and entertainment… the Kanpai Planet and Maction Planet signature entertainment.

On 25 May, I had the pleasure of accompanying Duncan and Inga to the Greenroom Festival in Yokohama. We enjoyed a fantastic day filled with vibrant music, art, and surf culture. My highlight of the festival was the electrifying performance by Punpee. It was a memorable day of great music and wonderful company.

After consulting on their trip it was an honour to finally meet David, Nancy, Ethan and Jack for two action-packed days in Tokyo which culminated in a sake tasting followed by an evening at Jingu Stadium! So much fun to show these legends the Tokyo I love!

Every so often, I get to try something very special. In this month’s video on Kanpai Planet, we delve into the legendary Karuizawa Distillery as I review Karuizawa Noh Series #7576—one of the most coveted Japanese whiskies in the world. Join us as we explore the rich history and flavour profile of this rare gem.

Maction Planet runs bespoke Private Tours and Experiences in Tokyo, and beyond. To book yours, or to purchase a gift card, contact us at info@mactionplanet.com

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