This Week in Tokyo – 1 December 2020
Welcome to another edition of ‘This Week in Tokyo’ – 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: I heart Showa Kinen Koen; Rising Tide at the Yamatane; Ms.Curtain’s Diary; Shimekazari Success and Miso Ramen round the corner.
Featured image – I heart Showa Kinen Koen: In my opinion, Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa is most beautiful in autumn. To celebrate the changing of the leaves, the park stays open and holds a nighttime light up of their Ginkgo tree boulevard and Japanese garden. This year that took place from 3 to 29 November. This photo was taken on 26 November. The Ginkgo trees may have lost many of their leaves, but they still retain their majesty, lit up on a lovely autumn evening.
Rising Tide at the Yamatane: I was honoured to be invited to the press day for the Yamatane Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, ‘Higashiyama Kaii and Nihonga Depicting Four Seasons.’ The exhibition showcases work by Kaii and other Japanese modern and contemporary artists. It takes the four seasons and landscapes as its themes, two of the key elements in Kaii’s oeuvre.
‘Rising Tide’ (pictured above) was my favourite painting of the exhibition. It was commissioned by Yamazaki Taneji, the Yamatane Museum’s first director, after seeing the murals painted by Kaii to decorate the New Imperial Palace. Taneji wanted something similar to be accessible to the public. This dynamic composition, which fuses Japanese images of the sea with the decorative quality of Japanese painting, triumphantly marks Kaii’s return to a Japanese aesthetic. Kaii rendered the deep hues of the ocean in azurite blue and malachite green, and used gold and platinum leaf and sunago (leaf cut as finely as grains of sand) to present the breaking crests of the waves. The title of the piece derives from the Man’yoshu, the first Japanese poetry anthology. To Taneji, a businessman, a rising tide was a theme implying fullness and good fortune.
Ms.Curtain’s Diary: Part 2 of the Koganecho Bazaar 2020 ended on Sunday. Some great contemporary art, from both Japanese and foreign artists, awaited those who explored the Koganecho neighbourhood’s tiny warrens and under-the-train-track galleries. The second part of the bazaar showcased works by 9 artists who were selected through an open call and invited for a residency as part of the area’s revitalisation efforts, as Koganecho looks to move on from its past as a red light district.
This was one of my favourite installations: ‘Ms.Curtain’s Diary’ by Yoshi Fujita. Fujita was born in 1991 in Akita and now lives and works in Tokyo. She graduated from the Department of Design (Graphic Design) at Tohoku University of the Arts and Design in 2014. Her works draw on her experiences, coupled with inspiration from modern society and its varied facets of communication.
She started to paint the motif of a girl whose face is hidden by draped curtains in 2013, using ‘Ms.Curtain’ as a mechanism to question the means of communication without superficial information.
Fujita had prepared an invitation, which you received with your ticket, inviting you into the blue and red worlds of Ms.Curtain. It was a pleasure to visit!
Shimekazari Success: Toshigami, Shinto god of the rice harvest, is believed to come down from the mountains into the villages during the New Year holiday to deliver auspicious blessings. People undertake various preparations to welcome Toshigami as the New Year draws near, including the preparation of shimekazari straw-rope decorations.
I had the opportunity to make my own shimekazari last week and this is what I produced! I am pretty proud of the end result. Thank you to Etsuko for all her hard work to make this happen.
Miso Ramen round the corner: Having eaten in over 1000 ramen shops, I know a good bowl when I slurp one. During our Miso Ramen online, interactive cooking class on 6 December (JST), I will be teaching you how to make one of my favourite styles.
Miso Ramen was created in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. The miso creates a thick, hearty soup with a deep, complex flavour. Traditional miso ramen toppings include sweet corn, butter, and bean sprouts. It’s a perfect meal for a winter’s day.
One of the highlights of this class will be learning how to make the ramen noodles themselves FROM SCRATCH. We’ll also teach you have to construct your broth from the ground up PLUS how to make ajitama – the delicious ramen seasoned egg.