Omotesando renewed

Today I walked my old ‘hood, Omotesando. In some ways Tokyo seems exactly the same as when I left it. Then there are the jarring reminders that time has past, such as substantial additions and deletions to the landscape.

In Japan buildings are fashion items: built just to be torn down in a few years and replaced with something new. My local Kinokuniya international supermarket has been replaced with a parking lot and moved to a new location down Aoyama dori. There is the new, very cool Tod’s flagship store on Omotesando (see some great photos of the Tod’s store from Jean Snow on MOCO Tokyo).

At Kiddyland, a children’s toy store, manga “girl’s briefs.”

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Roppongi Hills

Last week, a friend from home was in town and we visited Roppongi Hills, the complex I have watched construction of from my window for the last two years. As we walked through the “zen garden” my visitor remarked, “the highway is only 5 feet away, it’s loud, how relaxing is that?” Which, I think, pretty much sums up all of Japan. Recently I joked with a friend about searching for that single spot in Japan that not one power line, car, slab of concrete, or shack of rusting, corrugated steel is visible from any direction.

Jean Snow has some interesting dialog on Roppongi Hills here and here as well as some interesting photos.

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Old house

A beautiful old house in my neighborhood. I won’t, however, show you the building next to it, which is a monstrosity, nor the one next to that, nor the next one, nor the one after that…

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Finding the beauty in Tokyo

Someone told me the difference between New York City and Tokyo is that in New York beauty is found at the macro level, but just don’t look too closely at the grubby corners; in Tokyo beauty is found at the micro level, up close, but you have to ignore everything around it. (In my opinion, this fits nicely with the Japanese approach to industrial design: each tiny little part of a product seems well designed, but the composite is often weak, e.g. cars.)

One oasis of beauty in Tokyo is the Nezu Museum. The museum itself is small and only occasionally has an exhibition really worth seeing, however, the grounds are a sea of tranquility with a pond, small tea house, and meandering footpaths.

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Hanami season

It’s official. Hanami (blossom viewing) season, an age old tradition, is in full force. In perfect pack animal form the Japanese ascend on parks to “view and contemplate the cherry blossom” which really is just another excuse to drink copious amounts of sake. The main blossom viewing site happens to be Aoyama Cemetery which is just steps from my apartment.

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