This Week in Tokyo – 15 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: Masked Mitsukoshi Lions; Manhole Calendar; Daruma vends darumas; My Colour, My Christmas and The Ultimate Godzilla Experience.
Featured image – Masked Mitsukoshi Lions: Guarding the main entrance of Nihombashi and Ginza Mitsukoshi, the world-famous department store’s lions make for an impressive sight. The bronze lions have been at Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi’s main entrance since 1914, when they arrived from England on the order of then-manager Ousuke Hibi as he prepared for the opening of Mitsukoshi Department Store’s new annex (today’s east building). Modelled specifically after the lion statue underneath Nelson Column in London’s Trafalgar Square, the Mitsukoshi Lions were designed and cast by British sculptors Merrifield and Barton and took three years to complete. Their days were almost numbered in 1941, when the lions were seized by the Navy Ministry of Japan to be melted down. Luckily that never came to pass. In 1946, they were found abandoned at the Togo Shrine in Harajuku and returned to their place guarding Mitsukoshi.
This photo was taken at the Ginza branch of Mitsukoshi, with the lions masked up and ready for some socially-distanced action!
Manhole Calendar: I love Japanese manhole covers, and every one of my tour guests does too. We have featured some of my favourite designs in previous editions of ‘This Week in Tokyo’ – for example, this design from Okazaki, this Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics design, one featuring Tomiko, the mascot of Kawagoe and this Rugby World Cup 2019 design. What to get the manhole lover in your life for Christmas? Obviously, the answer is this 2021 Manhole Calendar. ‘Nuff said.
Daruma vends darumas: A Daruma doll is a round traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. They are associated with luck and perseverance. The daruma is purchased with eyes blank. You set a goal by colouring in the pupil of one of the eyes. When the goal is attained, the other eye is coloured in and the doll is typically then taken to a shrine and left there.
This daruma vending machine, which I spotted at Shibuya PARCO, caught my eye. The daruma is vending darumas as if participating in a post-capitalist dystopia… but then, aren’t we all.
My Colour, My Christmas: This installation on the 7F of Shibuya Scramble Square is the focal point of ‘My Colour, My Christmas’. It’s titled 元氣ツリー, Genki Tree, which means ‘Energy Tree’, or 元樹, which is pronounced Genki and is a pun on the fact that ‘ki’ can mean tree. The creative director is Quenta Takaya, and the concept aims to provide visitors with beautiful colours to help create the energy to get through these tough times.
The Ultimate Godzilla Experience: In October 2020 I checked out the Ultimate Godzilla Experience at Nijigen no Mori on Awaji Island. Dubbed ‘Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji’, it gives visitors the chance to fulfil their life’s ambition of ziplining into Godzilla’s mouth. At well as that there is a shooting game, museum, shop and themed food to enjoy.
I documented the entire experience and made a video for you to experience the… err… experience on the Maction Planet YouTube Channel. While you are there, why not give the channel a sub and click the bell icon for notifications of new content!