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    my eventful past two weeks...

    John Tubles Jun 24 '10 1

    Looking out in my balcony and wondering who the hell turned the “crap-weather” switch on in here Japan? Because in the past two weeks or so the weather here is gradually turning to shits, it has been humid, sticky, damped, hot with the occasional light rain that last for hours… man I wish its spring time all year round!!!

    Anyways other than the weather, everything is great! In this post I will share my travel experiences… Oh and I also had an Idea of interviewing architecture firms in Japan and writing a blog about their practice and anything that we talked about… this was one of those “ideas-from-the-shower” thing that proved to be harder than what it seems, because who would want to talk to me… right now I have only made one interview, and soon as I finish writing the blog I will post it..

    So I planned and accomplished a short trip (3 days) back home in Los Angeles for a very eventful family weekend, it was my mother’s 50th bday + the week before was my younger sister’s college graduation + the next week after is my older sister’s 27th bday + father’s day…. so im going to share my adventures...

    So the cheap plane ticket (buddy pass) only flies out from Narita in Tokyo so I decided to spend a couple of days before and enjoy the city again.
    June 9th I flew from Fukuoka to Tokyo and stayed in an artist-friend’s house, his name is Kouo Uehara, in Toride, a suburb of Tokyo. This was an exciting trip in the sense because I was not being a tourist trying to see everything… it was more relaxed…
    First we went to MOT (Museum of Contemporary Arts Tokyo) my favorite museum in Tokyo, and saw Tokyo Wonderwall [exhibition of new undiscovered Japanese contemporary artists, some of which is my friend’s friend], Hussein Chalayan: From Fashion and Back [which reiterates the fact that the design, art, fashion, architecture fields are so intertwined and treating each one as a separate entity is simply doing a disservice not only to yourself and people around you] and Plastic Memories [which takes the concept of memories which are from the past/sometimes public or personal, then reinterpret these memories to create new ones]. Now on an architecture stand point this building is amazing… it is so unpretentious, modern and contemporary but not cold and sterile and really really really interesting circulation, plus great exhibitions cannot hurt either.

    Then we went to Tomio Koyama Gallery which is walking distance from MOT. The way here was really interesting because we walked a little further than we were suppose to and got lost for a bit… which was a good thing so I got to see random places in Tokyo which reminds me of the book called “Made In Tokyo” by Atelier Bow Wow [which in Japanese is Atelier Wan Wan because that’s the dog sound here in Japan] where it highlights random, no-name-architect-designed buildings that are built for the sole purpose of efficiency, where different building typologies such as restaurant + apartments + batting cages, or my personal favorite cemetery on a bridge hovering over a highway underpass meet and cohabitate with each other in one site. Anyways, the Tomio Koyama Gallery belongs to one of those kinds of buildings… it is a taxi refueling/washing/parking station + shipping company and travel agency in the bottom floors and on the higher floors are galleries.

    June 10th I met with an architecture firm called Front Office Tokyo and its principals Bill Galloway and Koen Klinkers [which I will feature in a different blog to start off my series of casual talks with different architecture firms] and went to a project site… [I will post some more later]

    Then I went to the 21_21 designsight in Roppongi Hills because of a really interesting exhibit called “post Fossil” which shows different objects [from chairs to sculptures] that share of a common theme of rethinking the primitive ways of thinking/creating and re-interpreting it in a contemporary way. This collection was also chosen by Li Edelkoort, a trend forecaster.

    After that I dropped by to my 2nd favorite museum in Tokyo, the “Mori Arts Center” where I saw another really interesting exhibition called Roppongi Crossing 2010: Can There Be Art. This exhibition focuses on Japanese artist experimenting on different mediums and exploring every aspect of their daily life + the Tokyo street scene.

    So after spending 2 very art filled days in Tokyo I proceeded to main point why I am in Tokyo, to catch a plane back home and surprise my family… but you know what I was the one that got surprised… surprised in the sense that I felt like a tourist in my own town… and here are the obvious, I mean really obvious, things about Los Angeles that I knew but still shocked/ amazed me:
    Its literally a melting pot of cultures – it was really weird to see people from different backgrounds all in one place… even though Tokyo is pretty diverse… but not as much as L.A…. oh and hearing different languages going on in the background was really cool too…

    L.A. especially is a car oriented city – so it was weird seeing big expansive parking lots and getting inside a car to go to a grocery store that is a 10 min walk away.

    Food servings are bigger in America – for comparison a medium sized meal in Mc Donald’s would be a large here in Japan, and the Kids meal in U.S. is the typical serving here…

    Speaking of food, good Mexican food is everywhere in Los Angeles which I desperately miss…

    Oh and there is a big difference in service here in Japan and America… people are more courteous here and you can feel the distinct roles of servants and masters which is in direct contrast to California’s “chill” work vibe… oh and the tipping culture… I really got used to not tipping so it was kinda weird to calculate the right tip amount…

    Btw… sorry to my friends that didn’t know I came back… it was in L.A. for a short time so I just spent it with my family….

    Then my L.A. to Japan flight became a big mess because I was a standby passenger using a buddy pass and my friend’s seniority was quite low so I was always on the bottom of the list so in order to get back to Japan and not miss school… I had to change my direct flight from LA > Tokyo > Fukuoka, into LA > Kauai > Honolulu (stay overnight) > Osaka > Fukuoka… which was another adventure in itself…

    I really got to know airports quite well and especially on how the circulation works, and the process from curb drop-off to boarding a plane. Not to mention made new friends who were fellow stand-by, non-revenue passengers who were in the same boat as I am… but then again I got to swim in a beach in Hawaii during sunrise so I can’t complain right…

    Then when I came back here in Japan, while adjusting from a jetlag because of 3 different time zone in one week, a new arch project was given, made a pin hole camera out of cardboard gift box, had a field research in two opposing seaside towns, Mojiko in Kitakyushu, Japan and Shimonoseki, then the day after planted rice seedlings with local residents of this small town in Yame and watched a Kabuki performance, which I barely understood but nonetheless had a good time…

    so that’s been my past two weeks… sorry it got a little long… and till next blog…

     

     
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