- On 12th January 2021
- In This Week in Tokyo
This Week in Tokyo – 12 January 2021
Welcome to ‘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. Hosted by Mac, our Founder and Lead Guide, you can check out photos from our tours and read insights into our explorations as we get under the skin of the World’s Greatest Metropolis, and beyond! This week: Giger x Sorayama x Mac; The last Hara; Coming of Age Day 2021; Yakitori Teishoku Success and Panda Bento Cooking Class.
Giger x Sorayama x Mac: On Monday I attended the final day of the H.R. Giger x Sorayama exhibition at Shibuya Parco. This fantastic display of work from two visionary and highly influential artists, the first to feature work from both Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama and Swiss artist H.R.Giger, ran for only two and half weeks. The juxtaposition of these artists was apt. At the very core of both creators’ practice lies an obsessive investigation of AI, eternal life, and the fusion of the organic and human-made, revealing an underlying tension between life, death, power, and desire.
The work of Hajime Sorayama (b. 1947) centres around a search for beauty in the human body and the machine. He is best known for his precisely detailed, hand-painted portrayals of women and androids, obtained through a wide array of techniques, most prominently airbrush painting. He also designed AIBO, the robotic pet released by Sony in 1999, which is now in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institute and MoMA.
Hans Ruedi Giger (1940–2014) was a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor, and set designer known for his biomechanical creatures, extraterrestrial landscapes, and disturbing sexual machines. In a career that spanned more than five decades, he employed a staggering variety of media, including furniture, movie props, prints, paintings, and sculptures.
Giger is best known for his iconic concept design for Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), which originated in a lithograph titled ‘Necronom IV’. The Xenomorph won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects and catapulted the artist to fame.
In case there is any confusion, I’m the one in the blue jacket.
The last Hara: 11 January 2021 was a sad day for all lovers of art in Tokyo. It marked the final day of opening of the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Hara was one of the first museums in Japan that specialized in contemporary art. Situated within a quiet residential area of Shinagawa, Tokyo, the museum typically held three or four exhibitions each year, alongside a variety of lectures, performances, and workshops.
The building which houses the museum was originally built as the private residence of the Meiji-era industrialist Kunizo Hara. It was designed by Jin Watanabe, famous for many other works including the Tokyo National Museum and Ginza Wako. It is a rare example of a Western-style Japanese residence built during the early-Showa period in the Modernist style. The building is a masterpiece with many unique features, such as the use of smoothly curving lines to delineate the museum’s courtyard garden. In addition to galleries that were once living room, dining room or bedroom, the museum’s boasts permanent installations where once were bathroom, sink and other utility spaces. Over the years, additional structures have been added, such as the glass-enclosed Cafe d’Art and The Hall, a multi-purpose venue for lectures, workshops and other events.
The final exhibition held at the Hara Museum was ‘Time Flows: Reflections by 5 Artists’, which we featured in a previous edition of ‘This Week in Tokyo.’
Picking one photo to capture my love for the Hara Museum is tough. I decided to go with a shot of the iconic entrance – the doorway to this incredible fusion of art, architecture and history.
Luckily, the Hara will live on at the Hara Museum ARC, in Gunma prefecture, which was opened in 1988. We continue…
Coming of Age Day 2021: Monday 11 January 2021 was Coming of Age Day in Japan (成人の日, seijin no hi). It is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday in January in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached or will reach 20, the age of maturity, between 1 April of the previous year and 31 March of the current year, and to mark their realisation of adulthood. 1.24 million young people celebrated becoming an adult this year.
Festivities normally include coming of age ceremonies (成人式, seijin shiki) held at city and prefectural offices, as well as shrine visits and parties with friends and family.
This year, celebrations were modified. Many large events were cancelled or moved online, and those that did take place were held in outdoor stadia, or split-up and staggered to avoid overcrowding.
Happy Coming of Age Day to everyone in Japan who is heading into their 20s from everyone at Maction Planet!
Yakitori Teishoku Success: On Sunday we ran our latest online, interactive cooking class, teaching our guests how to make a Yakitori Teishoku.
Here’s screenshot from the end of the morning class, as everyone is sitting down to enjoy their finished meal.
Panda Bento Cooking Class: Next up for Maction Planet Online Interactive Cooking Classes is Panda Bento on 21 February 2021 (JST)!
A bento (弁当) is, essentially, a Japanese lunch box! Traditional bento contain rice or noodles with meat and vegetables in a box. They are available throughout Japan, including convenience stores, railway stations, department stores and speciality shops. Lots of effort is spent to make these bento boxes extra special, and one of the ways that happens is through “kyaraben” (“character bento”), decorated to look like cute characters or animals.
Amongst our animal friends, there are not many creatures cuter than pandas! Pandas were first introduced to Japan at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. Their physique and innocent nature fits in well with the zeitgeist of cute that permeates Japan. In 2017, for the first time in 29 years, a new baby panda named Xiang Xiang was born at Ueno Zoo, sparking another boom of adoration for these creatures… and long lines to see her! Pandas are Chef Nahoko’s favourite animals, and she is really excited to teach this to everyone.
In our bento class we will make panda onigiri rice balls, ebi mayo shrimp mayonnaise and agedashi dofu – fried tofu! These, along with some vegetables, make up a delicious and visually appealing lunch!