ASOBUILD: The New Facility in Yokohama Offering Cutting-Edge Entertainment

19.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

ASOBUILD is a new entertainment facility connected directly to Yokohama Station that just recently opened on March 15, 2019. The complex offers new ways to enjoy entertainment. Prior to its opening, Chinese model Estuna attended its press conference to find out more.

ASOBUILD is a renovated building that was formerly an annex of the Yokohama Central Post Office. The entire complex from the basement floor up to the roof has been transformed into one giant play area. Each floor has its own theme which offers shopping, exciting interactive activities, workshops, the latest technology, a kid’s park and more. The various floors serve to entertain a whole range of different people.

 

 

MONOTORY – Japan’s biggest hands-on market (Floor 3F)

Floor 3F is home to MONOTORY, Japan’s largest hands-on market with over 150 artists officially signed up to it. It is here that workshops to create well over 200 different handicrafts in 20 different fields take place. Get involved and make leather crafts, ceramics, candles, flower arrangements and much more. Workshops can be signed up for over on the official website.

 

MONOTORY

Location: ASOBUILD Floor 3F

Opening Hours: 10:00-22:00

Sign Up:https://monotory.me/

 

 

ALE BOX – An Interactive Site Currently Home to the Poop Museum (Floor 2F)

ALE-BOX can be found on the 2nd floor. It is home to a range of permanent experience-based events and is also host to limited-time ones too, such as Unko Museum Yokohama―the world’s first amusement park themed on poop―which is running now until July 15. You really need to see it for yourself, but to give an example, there is a giant poop volcano in the center of the park which releases poop like lava.

In the interactive area there is a game where you can stand on poop, another where you can make poop by shouting, and other poop-related interactive games.

There is even cute pink and sparkly poop area made for taking Instagrammable photos.

During the press conference, an artist named 326 drew poop portraits of people. There’s plenty of things you can rest assured you’ve never experienced before happening at the Unko Museum, so don’t hold it in―get on over there.

 

Also on the same floor is an escape game and a VR picture book made by Akihiro Nishino of the stand-up comedy duo King Kong. The activities and events happening on this floor will continue to change so there will always be something new to enjoy whenever you visit.

 

Unko Museum Yokohama

Address: ALE-BOX, ASOBUILD Floor 2F, 2-14-9 Takashima, Nishi Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
Running: March 15, 2019 – July 15, 2019

No Fixed Holidays.

Price: Junior High School Student and Older – ¥1,700 / Elementary School Student – ¥900 / Toddler – Free

Opening Hours

[Monday-Thursday] 11:00-20:00 (Last Entry 19:30)

[Friday-Sunday & Holidays] 10:00-21:00 (Last Entry 20:30)

Official Website: https://ale-box.com/unkomuseum/

 

 

POST STREET – Enjoy Yokohama Cuisine & Entertainment (Floor 1F)

POST STREET is located on the 1st floor and is directly connected to the East Exit of Yokohama Station. This ‘gourmet street’ is lined with 18 restaurants serving up Yokohama-style food such as the popular Shi Umai BAR, the all-new Niboshi Soba created by the owner of HechiKan, popular donut chain DUMBO Doughnuts and Coffee, the cheese restaurant DAIGOMI which is always booked up, and so on.

The cheeseburgers served at DAIGOMI BURGER, a restaurant and branch of Minamiaoyama- and Ikebukuro-based cheese restaurant DAIGOMI, are different from regular cheeseburgers as cheese is made as the main ingredient.

Making the burger patty 100% beef is a key step to bringing out the full enjoyment of the cheese. The buns are made with Japanese brown rice flour. Etsuna was very satisfied with hers, saying: “The D.G.M Cheeseburger is loaded with cheese. Ir’s delicious with the BBQ sauce, it adds a little sweetness.”

 

DAIGOMI BURGER

Location: POST STREET, ASOBUILD Floor 1F

Menu: D.G.M Cheeseburger – Lunch ¥1,780 (Tax Included) / Grand ¥1,674 (Tax Included), and more

 

 

PITCH CLUB – An Amusement Bar, Lounge & Adult Play Area (Floor B1F)

PITCH CLUB is an amusement bar and lounge on the basement floor currently in its pre-opening period. Its grand opening is set for Friday April 5. Created as a ‘sophisticated play area for adults,’ the space is a fusion of art, technology and sophisticated décor styled in the image of a Brooklyn bar.

Games include billiards with pink tables and cues, table tennis, pinball, board games and more. Play a game while enjoying a cocktail made by some of Japan’s leading bartenders or a rich wine brewed in Yokohama.

There is even an in-house darts game called Flash Darts that makes use of projection mapping. There are various ways to play and the targets can be changed too.

As well as the open space there are individual rooms too with stylish artwork covering the walls. These make for a perfect place for a private party or get-together.

 

PITCH CLUB

Location: ASOBUILD Floor B1F

Pre-Opening Period: March 15, 2019 – April 4, 2019

Grand Opening: April 5, 2019

Opening Hours: 6:00pm to Midnight (Until 4:00am on Fridays, Saturdays & Public Holidays(

Price: Men ¥3,000 / Women ¥1,000 (comes with 1 drink)

 

 

And there’s plenty more where that came from. The rooftop is home to a multisport court with basketball and football. The kid’s park will open on the 4th floor in May. The whole building is decked out with artwork from up-and-coming visionary artists.

 

Etsuna summed up her thoughts of her visit: “Each floor offers different atmospheres to enjoy. There’s art in various places so there are plenty of spots to snap photos for social media! Kids and adults alike can have fun here, so be sure to pay it a visit.”

 

See ASOBUILD yourself and experience cutting-edge entertainment you won’t find anywhere else!

 

Model:Etsuna Otsuka
Writer:Sayoko Ishii
Photographer:Kayo Sekiguchi

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    VR DREAM FLIGHT: Sailor Moon Eternal in 360°

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    Original Drinks

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    Pegasus Drink | ¥800 (Tax Included)

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    Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture and the largest city in Japan’s Tohoku region, is a two-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. The city has earned the nickname Mori no Miyako, or ‘City of Trees,’ due to the abundant rows of zelkova trees lining many of its streets. It bustles with charm and is enjoyed by locals and tourists for its history, sights, and events, such as its associations with the Japanese regional ruler Date Masamune, the famous Sendai Tanabata Festival, and more. However, there are many other incredible locations that Sendai has to offer that aren’t as well known as the popular sites, so today we are joined by Etsuna who is giving us the latest in what can be found in the city.

     

    Along The Coast

    The coast of Sendai was struck by a tsunami when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck back on in March 2011. Today, the area is continuing its re-development efforts. New facilities have and are being built, including plenty of new spots the area never had before. Sendai is home to a memorial hall for remembering those affected during the disaster which is a must-visit if travelling to Sendai.

     

    Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium

    Feel the sea breeze and ocean water of Tohoku against your skin

    Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium opened in 2015 as the larrgest aquarium in the Tohoku region. The first floor is themed on the waters of Tohoku where many rare aquatic species from the Sanriku Coast are housed. The second floor is centred on sea creatures found in the oceans around the world such as tropical fish, jellyfish, marine mammals, and other familiar faces.

     

    Visitors can even meet ascidians there which are famous in the Sanriku Coast.

    The large fish tanks let in a lot of natural light, recreating the beauty of the Sanriku sea.

    There’s also a special spot where you can get up close to some of the fish!

    The aquarium offers an optional program where visitors can feed the penguins.

    “It’s a pretty big aquarium,” said Etsuna. “It was great to see all of the different things they have on display. I had a lot of fun feeding the penguins too!”

     

    Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium

    Address: 4-6 Nakano, Miyagino-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
    Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (May change depending ont he season)
    No Fixed Holidays
    TEL: 022-355-2222
    Access: 10-minutes by shuttle bus (free ride) from JR Nakanosakae Station
    Price: Adults ¥2,200 / Seniors, High School and Junior High School Children ¥1,600 / Elementary School Children ¥1,100 / Infants ¥600 (All Tax-Inclusive)

    Official Website: http://www.uminomori.jp/umino/

     

    Sendai Chuooroshiuri Market

    Fresh fish at an affordable price

    Sendai Chuooroshiuri Market is like the kitchen of Sendai. The food shops there were opened by locals. Visitors will find many different bites to eat when visiting. Etsuna visited Sushi Yoshi, a restaurant in the area so popular that there’s always a line.

    The restaurant’s name, Sushi Yoshi, suggests that it’s a sushi restaurant, but they actually serve common delicacies like rice bowls and set meals.

    Maguro Sanshudon | ¥1,500

    This rice bowl contains three kinds of maguro tuna, so much in fact that you can’t even see the rice!

    “You can enjoy delicious fresh fish at a reasonable price. You might have to wait in line, but it’s totally worth it!”

     

     Sushi Yoshi
    Address: 4-3-1 Oroshimachi, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
    Opening Hours: 6:30-13:30
    Closed: Wednesdays and Sundays
    TEL: 022-232-8042
    Access: 20-minutes by bus from Sendai Station

     

    Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center

    Learn the story of the disaster

    Inside Arai Station, which is the last stop on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, you can find the Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center where visitors can learn all about how the Great East Japan Earthquake affected Sendai through the exhibition rooms and in the communal space.

    The first floor features a panel with a 3D map of how the tsunami inundated the region as a result of the earthquake.

    Up on the second floor is a permanent exhibition showcasing the restoration and restoration efforts of the community as well as real photos from around the time of the disaster.

    There are also staff members there who survived the disaster and can describe their experiences as well as current issues facing Sendai.

    “I got teary when the speaker told me about the hardships they faced at that time,” explains Etsuna. “The people of Sendai are living their lives looking forward, and I have a lot of respect for them.”

     

    Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center
    Address: Kutsugata-85 Arai, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
    Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00
    Closed: Mondays (or Tuesday if the Monday falls on a public holiday) / Day after public holiday / New Year Holidays
    TEL: 022-390-9022
    Access: Arai Station
    Entry: Free

    Official Website: http://sendai311-memorial.jp

     

    Sendai Arahama Elementary School

    The school that still stands after the earthquake disaster

    On the day of the Tohoku earthquake, many local residents fled to Sendai Arahama Elementary School where 320 people were trapped including the evacuees, children, and teachers, before managing to escape safely to the roof. The school is now open as a memorial to preserve the memories of those who survived.

    The tsunami that struck after the earthquake made it to the second floor of the school. These first two floors have been kept untouched and are as they were on the day.

    There are photos as well as video footage exhibited on the fourth floor where the tsunami didn’t reach.

    From the school building’s roof you can gaze at the peaceful coastline.

    “Seeing the place that was hit by the tsunami up close has really changed my outlook on life. There is green in the surrounding area. I felt life budding all around.”

     

    Sendai Arahama Elementary School
    Address: Shinborihata-32-1 Arahama, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
    Opening Hours: 9:30-16:00
    Closed: Mondays / Every 4th Thursday of the month / New Year Holidays
    TEL: 022-355-861
    Access: 15-minutes by bus from Arai Station
    Entry: Free

     

    Akiu Area

    Akiu Onsen is a spa town known to locals as the ‘living room’ of Sendai. It’s a 30-50 minute bus ride from Sendai Station. It has been nicknamed one of Japan’s Three Baths alongside Bessho Onsen and Nozawa Onsen, both in Nagano Prefecture. It’s another place that Date Masamune frequented many times.

     

    Rairaikyo Gorge

    A stroll along the gorge path

    Rairaikyo Gorge gets its name from the abundance of enormous rocks that have been eroded by the Natori River and given them strange shapes. The Kanji ‘rai’ used in the gorge’s name literally means ‘many rocks.’ The gorge is home to a 1-km path that people can walk along and soak up the incredible natural environment that offers sights to behold throughout the year. From late October to mid November, when the autumn leaves are in bloom, the area is also lit up in the evenings.

    The heart-shaped hollow in the rocks as pictured above is considered a sacred place for couples.

    Taking a stroll along the path one sees maple trees aplenty. Visiting during the height of autumn graces you with a colourful scene you wouldn’t want to miss.

    “I feel healed having gotten to take a leisurely stroll through nature,” explained Etsuna. “The rocks of Akiu have some interesting shapes.”

     

    Rairaikyo Gorge

    Address: Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
    Access: Approx. 40 minutes by bus from Sendai Station

     

    Akiu-sha

    A stylish, old fashioned cafe in the hot spring town


    When taking a trip to Akiu Onsen, one hot spot that’s a must-visit is Akiu-sha, a restaurant that was renovated from an old private farm house from the Edo Period. During the day it serves lunch food and drinks while in the evenings it’s used for events like private parties.

    There’s an open garden at the site which is sometimes used for weddings. At the back are vegetable plots tended to by the restaurant.

    Akiu-sha Lunch | ¥1,280 (Before Tax)

    The Akiu-sha Lunch is made with fresh vegetables grown in both their own plot as well as from around Akiu.

    Akiu Saiseki Chocolate | ¥850 (Before Tax)

    A white chocolate dessert inspired by the unique rocks of Akiu. Customers can use the little wooden hammer to break apart the dessert to create a rubble of chocolate.

    The inside of the restaurant is spacious with towering beams holding it up.

    “The vegetables are so fresh, I couldn’t believe how tasty they were! This flavour is unique to this place.”

     

    Akiu-sha
    Address: Nozoki-9-4 Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
    Opening Hours: 11:00-17:00 (Last Food Orders 14:30 / Cafe Last Orders 16:00)
    Closed: Tuesdays
    TEL: 022-724-7767 (Bookings not possible)
    Access: 50-minutes by bus from Sendai Station

    Official Website: http://akiuwinery.co.jp

     

    Akiu Winery

    Taste and compare different original wines

    Akiu Winery in Akiu Onsen was the first winery to open in Sendai. It’s home to an enormous grape field, and inside is the brewery itself as well as a dining area and shop. They serve an array of original wines.

    As well as originals, Akiu Winery also stocks famous wines from Sendai.

    Merlot Red Wine 2018 (Sample) | Koshu Sur Lie 2019 (750ml) ¥2,300 | Steuben Rosé 2019 (750ml) ¥2,000 (All Before Tax)

    Akiu Winery’s line-up of wines are famous in Sendai.

    At the back of the winery is the expansive grape field.

    Craft Grill | ¥1,330

    At the outdoor terrace you can enjoy a BBQ grill together with a glass of wine.

    “The sight of the grape field made me feel like I was in France. You can enjoy a BBQ too so I definitely want people to come here!”

     

    Akiu Winery
    Address: Biwaharanishi-6, Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
    Official Website: http://akiuwinery.co.jp

    Akiu Great Falls

    The Three Great Waterfalls of Japan

    Akiu Great Falls is considered one of Japan’s three most famous waterfalls alongside Kegon Falls in Tochigi Prefecture and Nachi Falls in Wakayama Prefecture. It’s about 15-minutes by car downstream from Akiu Onsen and is also accessible by bus.

    They have a retro shop at the entrance of the waterfall.

    Also located next to the waterfall is Akiu-Otaki Fudoson, a temple surrounded by dense green foliage and enormous gingko trees.

    “Being in nature really relaxed me and took away the day’s stress! It’s quite a walk to the waterfall basin so you get plenty of exercise too.”

     

    Akiu Great Falls
    Address: Otaki Akiumachi Baba, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
    TEL: 022-398-2323 (Akiu Onsen Tourist Information Center)
    Access: 50-minutes by bus from Sendai Station (Running on weekends and public holidays only)

     

    Around Sendai Station

    Sendai Station can be considered as the doorstep of Japan’s Tohoku region. It of course runs JR East’s Tohoku Shinkansen bullet trains as well as operates Sendai Subway services and buses. The area around the station is great for finding tasty local delicacies, shopping, and souvenir-buying.

     

    WANOSHOKU NIKAI

    Seri-nabe is Sendai’s new specialty food

    If you’re asked to give an example of a famous speciality food product from Sendai, chances are people will jump straight to the city’s gyutan beef tongue, but what has been the talk of the town recently is seri-nabe. Seri-nabe is a type of hotpot cooked with Japanese parsley (‘seri’) – one of Japan’s seven spring flowers. Miyagi Prefecture boasts as a top class producer of Japanese parsley. The hotpot is served in a simple duck broth which allows the fragrance of the parsley to come through.

    “I can’t get enough of the crunchy texture of the [parsley] roots! It was delicious, I had a refreshing soy sauce soup finished with ramen.”

     

    WASHOKU NIKAI
    Address: 2-5-15 Ichibanchō, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
    Opening Hours: 17:00-Midnight
    No Fixed Holidays
    TEL: 022-224-6040

     

    Iroha Yokocho

    Bar crawl deep into the back streets

    The side streets of the Sunmall Ichibancho arcade have a retro Japanese vibe to them, packed full of shops that make one feel nostalgic.

    The long, winding alleys feature plenty of Instagram-worthy spots.

    “This is a great spot for enjoying a bar crawl, just having a light drink and then moving onto the next place. Even if you don’t drink there’s tasty food to enjoy too!”

     

    Iroha Yokocho

    Address: 2-3-28 Ichibancho, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
    TEL: 022-223-3151

    S-PAL Sendai

    A fashion mall connected to the station

    S-PAL is a fashion mall directly connected to Sendai Station, home to apparel stores, restaurants, souvenir shops, sundry sellers, and more. Here are some sundry stores selling a variety of miscellaneous items perfect as souvenir purchases.

     

    Nakagawa Masashichi

    This is an old-time chain that has been around for 300 years. Specialising in lifestyle goods, this S-PAL branch is the only one in all of Tohoku.

    Its interior design has a retro feel to it with shelves and tables piled with cute bits and bobs.

    Kaya-ori Tea Towel | ¥440 (Tax Included)

    A specialty product of Tohoku, this tea towel is made using the traditional weaving technique of kaya-ori. Exclusive to Tohoku.

     

    IORI

    IORI is another shop you’ll only find in the Tohoku area. They sell imabari towels which are perfect as gifts to yourself or another.

    Handkerchiefs | ¥600 Each (Tax Included)〜

    These handkerchiefs are only sold in Sendai and feature a variety of embroidered motifs like the windsocks of the Sendai Tanabata Festival, kokeshi dolls, the helmet of Date Masamune, and more.

     

    KANEIRI STANDARD STORE

    A select shop stocking stationery and other trinkets that promote the culture and craftsmanship of Tohoku. This store is right next to Sendai Station and has plenty of souvenir-worthy items, so it’s absolutely worth a visit.

    As well as lifestyle goods, the store also sells items made in Miyagi, like kokeshi dolls.

    Matsukawa Daruma | ¥1,300 (Before Tax)

    These Matsukawa Daruma are super cute, especially the blue one which is inspired by the Sendai Domain, also known as the Date Domain.

     

    Dagashiya Zousan

    Dagashiya Zousan sells old-time Japanese sweets and confections, stocked with many popular treats from Tohoku adored by both kids and adults alike.

    The traditional sweets are all packed together along the shelves and up the walls.

     

    The popular souvenir shops of Sendai

    You can’t go home after a fun trip without picking up a souvenir, so here’s s line-up of shops that have been surging in popularity recently in Sendai, all of which sell Sendai-specific items.

     

    Drinkable zunda at Agurienomori Mitte

    Drinkable Zunda | ¥370 (Before Tax)

    Zunda are mashed green soybeans boiled and turned into a sweet paste. They are also a local delicacy. Zunda mochi are very famous, but zunda beverages are popular too. This shop sells a variety of zunda treats to pick from.

     

    Bamboo grass kamaboko at Kanezaki-ya

    There are many makers of sasa-kamaboko, or bamboo grass fish paste, but what makes Kanezaki-ya’s so great is how it retains the original umami flavour and plump texture of the fish.

     

    Zaou cheese at Tohoku Meguri Irotoiro

    Zaou Cream Cheese, Vanilla Cream Spread | ¥557 Each (Before Tax)

    A food select shop selling a range of different ingredients. Their kaou cheese with sweet vanilla is their most popular item.

    “It’s a fashion mall so of course they sell clothes, but they had a bunch of other stuff too, everything from traditional Japanese daruma to food. I really recommend S-PAL Sendai if you’re searching for souvenirs!”

     

    S-PAL Sendai
    Address: 1-1-1 Chuo, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
    Opening Hours: 10:00-20:00 (Restaurant wing open 11:00-22:00)
    No Fixed Holidays
    TEL: 022-267-2111
    Access: Connected directly to Sendai Station
    Official Website: https://www.s-pal.jp/sendai/ 

     

    “Sendai looking and progressing into the future as it overcomes the effects of the disaster. It’s a place with amazing food, fun shops, and is teeming with nature. If you’ve never been to Sendai before, then be sure to visit and have fun!”

  • Japan’s Tom and Jerry Exhibition Celebrates 80 Years of the Animated Series

    23.November.2020 | SPOT

    Tom and Jerry is an animated franchise created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Adored worldwide for its titular rival characters, the hit series has won Academy Awards for Animated Short Film.

    The series is now getting its first ever exhibition, and it will take place in Japan, celebrating 80 years of the beloved franchise. Fans can look forward to seeing 250 original illustrations, animation cels from the debut animation short in the series Puss Gets the Boot, rough sketches, storyboards, and more. There will also be exhibits of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons loved by Japanese children.

     

    The Exhibition Break-Down
    Chapter One: The Birth of the Legendary Duo

    Chapter One of the exhibition will look at the history behind the birth of Tom and Jerry in 1940, and visitors will be able to watch the episodes that received Academy Awards.

     

    Chapter Two: The Charm of the Tom and Jerry Series

    The episodes, layout, secondary characters, title backgrounds, and more will be explored in detail. There will also be 3D recreations of Tom being out-done by Jerry.

     

    Chapter Three: Passing Onto Future Generations

    This chapter will explore Tom and Jerry from 1986 onwards. Visitors will also be able to see a recreation of the desk of American animator Spike Brandt who worked on numerous Tom and Jerry films.

     

    Chapter Four: Onto Television

    Chapter Four will explore the limits of what Hanna-Barbera were able to do in the early days on a low budget. Episodes and sounds nostalgic to Japanese people who grew up with their animations will also be played.

     

    Chapter Five: Tom and Jerry’s Eternal Chase

    Exhibits of the Tom and Jerry Show, as well as an exclusive animation made for this exhibition, will be showcased. Visitors can also get their hands on a selection of 200 pieces of exclusive merchandise and pre-sales on original items.

     

    TOM AND JERRY and related characters and elements ⓒ & ™ Turner Entertainment Co. (s20)

  • Tokyo’s New Art Cafe WHAT CAFE Opens in Tennozu

    15.October.2020 | FASHION / FOOD

    Warehouse TERRADA opened up the new art cafe ‘WHAT CAFE’ in Tennozu, Tokyo, on October 15, 2020.

    Left: Overlap of paint (dot3) by Soichi Yamaguchi | Right: Ichijiteki ni Inu, Ichijiteki ni Hito, Ichijiteki ni E by Dan Isomura

    WHAT CAFE will serve as a hub to support artists in Japan’s art industry by functioning as both a gallery and cafe in a 800㎡ space. The gallery will change out the artwork from time to time to allow for more artists to showcase their works to visitors throughout the year. There will be hundreds of pieces shown in an entire year.

    Left: Peel off the paint “No.125” by Haruna Shinagawa | void #35 by KIKUCHI Ryo

    Tokyo’s Tennozu area is looking to become a major stop for art in Japan and is currently home to various art facilities like the pigment lab PIGMENT TOKYO and Japan’s biggest gallery complex TERRADA ART COMPLEX.

     

    If you’re interested in contemporary art in Japan, and are visiting Tokyo, then you won’t want to miss a stop to Tennozu. Be sure to stop by WHAT CAFE.

  • Tokuma Shoten Publishing released a new picture book entitled Studio Ghibli no Ironna Kurashi in Japan on October 9, 2020 which is centred on the everyday lives of the protagonists from 13 of Studio Ghibli’s animated feature films.

    The book looks at where the characters of these films reside and what kinds of lives they live, whether it be in the Toxic Jungle of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, or Sophie taking up the role of the cleaning lady in Howl’s Moving Castle, or Sosuke and Lisa who live upon the cliff in Ponyo.

    Life in the castle in Howl’s Moving Castle ©2004 Studio Ghibli・NDDMT

    Who’s who in the family? What kind of house do they live in? What job do they work? These are the questions that the book will answer as it delves deep into the livelihoods of the globally-beloved characters conceived by the incredible minds of Studio Ghibli.

    The town of Koriko in Kiki’s Delivery Service ©1989 Eiko Kadono・Studio Ghibli・N

    Arrietty’s house in The Secret World of Arrietty ©2010 Studio Ghibli・NDHDMTW

    Noboru Yoshida (Art Supervisor for The Secret World of Arrietty)

    The house that Satsuki and Mei move to in My Neighbor Totoro, the dwelling of Totoro, the wartime life of Seita and Setsuko living in Kobe in Grave of the Fireflies, the town where Kiki begins her life living alone at the age of 13, and so on.

     

    The book is a must-have in the collection of any fans of Studio Ghibli, and is sure to make you want to step into those magical worlds once again.

  • Tokyo’s Mickey Mouse Exhibition ‘THE TRUE ORIGINAL & BEYOND’ Previews 5 Japanese Artworks

    14.October.2020 | FASHION / SPOT

    The Asahi Shimbun and Nippon TV are set to host an exhibition centred on Mickey Mouse at the MORI ARTS CENTER GALLERY in Roppongi, Tokyo, from October 30, 2020 to January 11, 2021, in celebration of 90 years since Mickey Mouse’s screen debut. The exhibition will showcase works shown at the Mickey: The True Original Exhibition held in New York in 2018-2019.

     

    Before the exhibition opens, five participating Japanese artists have each revealed their never-before-seen artworks which will be on display.

     

    The Tokyo exhibition will be a travel back through time, looking at Mickey Mouse from the past to the present. It will be split into three zones: “The Origin,” “The True Original,” and “Beyond.” The five artists showcasing their work early will be featured in the “Beyond” zone and include Tomoko Oshima, Kosuke Kawamura, Nana Soeda, Calligrapher MAMI, and WAKU. Below are their featured pieces along with their comments.

     

    Tomoko Oshima | Comment

    “What’s fascinating about Mickey Mouse is, for reasons I can’t begin to work out, how he became a part of each person’s life. I was raised in a household that banned cartoon characters, so it always felt like something unobtainable. Mickey Mouse is like a hero to all of us. He’s dazzling and radiant, a kind of being I can’t look directly in the face of. When working on my Mickey Mouse art [for the exhibition], my concept was to create a Mickey that’s special only to me, so I challenged myself to turning that Mickey Mouse that everyone feels happy looking at and loves into my usual art style.”

    Oheya (Bedroom), Tomoko Oshima

     

    Kosuke Kawamura | Comment

    “What I find fascinating about Mickey Mouse is that no matter how old I get, he always transports me away from the real world to a world of dreams. He’s an idol of mine. I even have my own collection of merchandise I’ve been collecting over the years. For the exhibition, I needed to creating something for the Beyond [zone], so I tried shaping Mickey Mouse from how I see him in my head. I’ve always made sure to balance my artwork in such a way that it can be seen in two ways. When you stand close, you can see the detailed composition, but when you step away, it looks different. This time around I gave myself a little challenge and made the silhouette of his face and hands using flowers. If you get close to it you’ll see that it’s made up of lots of flowers, but stand from afar and you’ll be able to see the facial expressions and his pointing figure. I’d like people to give both a go, so when you’ve looked at it up close then take a step back.”

    Untitled, Kosuke Kawamura

    Nana Soeda | Comment

    “I feel Mickey Mouse’s appeal from his long history and how he has changed overtime, so I tried to express these aspects in the piece I made. The theme for it is centred on Mickey Mouse in the future, so when I was thinking about what he might look like in the future, I looked to past [designs] and tried fixing them up. So in my piece there’s a trace of looking back at past Mickey Mouse while giving him an update. Creating those ‘futures’ made me feel like I was walking through my own past and processes. You can’t know exactly what’s to come in the future even for someone as internationally popular as Mickey Mouse. But by learning from past memories and mistakes, you can draw on those to create a future, don’t you think? That’s something I wanted to convey in this piece, and I did so by creating something that’s close to the Mickey Mouse of the past with both 2D and 3D surfaces. The Mickey Mouse I drew is the one of ages past that looks completely different to his appearance today. But those look at it might feel something newer about it than older. That, or they might feel uncomfortable seeing him in a way they’re not used to. I want people to take their time looking at both and feeling whatever they feel when they do.”

    LOVE, Nana Soeda

     

    Calligrapher MAMI | Comment

    “I’ve captured Mickey Mouse’s silhouette as its own kanji by using calligraphy. His appearance is iconic worldwide, and by making him recognisable through this common language, I’ve tried to create a new kanji, effectively breaking the language barrier of calligraphy, something which is difficult in itself to overcome for people. Another thing with calligraphy is that you can write the same piece hundreds of times which means it can be fine tuned over and over. I believe that overlaps with Mickey Mouse’s design as he has too has evolved for a hundred years. But by no means have his designs he just spring out of existence immediately. He has undergone trial and error through the times, and always shines bright. It’s because of everyone who will see my piece as this exhibition that I’ve been able to create something I can feel from the heart.”

    ZEN Mickey, Calligrapher MAMI

     

    WAKU | Comment

    “I think the appeal of Mickey Mouse lies in the fact that people around the world all remember him from their childhoods. We form memories during our childhoods, and ever I’ve been able to recognise those memories inside of me, Mickey Mouse was something that was always close to me. When I see three circles together, Mickey Mouse’s face comes into my mind. He might be the first internationally recognisable symbol. I felt that the affinity between symbolism and neon signs is very high. So for my piece, I incorporated the techniques used for traditional Japanese neon signboards, something which I see less of these days. I took that and created the three Mickey Mouse circles using light.”

    Untitled (Still Being Worked On), WAKU

  • Review | ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM: A Magical Place Swimming With Life

    07.October.2020 | FEATURES / SPOT

    ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM officially opened permanently in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, on August 28, 2020. Before that, it was simply an exhibition that was held around Tokyo which brought together over 10 million visitors throughout its run, exhibiting goldfish in a variety of breathtaking ways.

     

    We visited ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM together with Japanese model Yuna Yabe to take a deeper dive into what lies within those doors.

    ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM can be found in Nihonbashi, an area of which served as one of many places where ART AQUARIUM previously held its exhibitions. Nihonbashi is steeped in tradition and is actually the place where Japan’s goldfish culture spawned from during the Edo Period.

     

    ART AQUARIUM was conceived and is managed by Hidetomo Kimura, an author and general producer. It’s a collaboration between art, design, and entertainment, all fused into an aquarium to create a completely unique experience. The museum has taken what was once a pop-up exhibition and expanded it many-fold, housing close around 30,000 goldfish.


    The aquarium is divided into different areas each with its own unique theme that plunges visitors into a multitude of fantastical worlds. One of the must-sees when visiting ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM is the masterful Oiran works—giant goldfish bowls as pictured above—which are inspired by the red light district of the Edo Period.

    Perhaps the most striking and gorgeous part of the Edo Period was Hanamachi, the districts where geisha worked. The high-ranking courtesans, known as Oiran, engaged in what was known as the Oiran Dochu, or procession of the courtesans, and this too has been captured at the museum in the designs of the beautiful fish tanks in this area.

    Another unmissable part when visiting the aquarium are the Goldfish Shrines, towering fish tanks lined up like a column of water trees which make for an incredible viewing experience.

    The lighting and music is ever-changing, and so transports visitors into a completely different realm every time. It can be one way one moment, and in the next instant it changes entirely.

    From the second floor you can overlook the fish shrines with dynamic 3D visuals in the background. These visuals change depending on the season, so you’ll be in for a treat however many times you visit.

    There are countless works of goldfish art scattered throughout the aquarium—too many to count, so your eyes will never grow tired.

    Suigian Lounge – Old Pine Tree Area

    ART AQUARMIUM MUSEUM even has its own dining lounge where guests can enjoy a meal while gazing at a painting of old pine trees, a cultural property of the Edo Period said to have been painted by those of the Kano school of Japanese painting. Traditional performances are also carried out on the stage for diners.

    These drinks are ¥1,200 each (before tax)

    Every five days, a new line-up of cocktails is served at Suigian Lounge. Japan used to be divided into 24 sekki rather than the now-used four seasons of springs, summer, autumn, and winter. These were further divided into 72 , which are five days apart each. That’s where the lounge gets its idea for changing its cocktails every five days. So you’re sure to find an interesting flavour on every visit.

    Kagyo Ryoran – Joy Area 

    Kagyo Ryoran is a separate cafe lounge at the aquarium where they serve authentic Japanese sweets in collaboration with famous confectionery shops.

    From Left Clockwise: Goldfish Sarasa ¥750 / Palet D’or Cacao Soda ¥900 / Echire Butter & Cream Castella ¥800 / lohasbeans coffee Matcha Tiramisu ¥850 / Goldfish Jelly ¥750 (All Before Tax)

    The cafe serves up range of tasty Japanese desserts, from traditional ones to others inspired by goldfish and some made in collaboration with other shops.

    Large Plush Toys: ¥3,200 Each (Before Tax)

    The aquarium event sells its own souvenirs, such as goldfish plushies in various sizes, original confections, collaborative products, and more.

    “Everything was magical—the goldfish, the sounds, the lights, the atmosphere!” explains Yuna. “They have a lot of different varieties of goldfish, and the fish tanks come in all shapes and sizes, which makes for plenty of Instagram-worthy moments. And since it’s inspired by Edo culture, it has a Japanese vibe to it too. The fish are always swimming around, so no two moments are ever the same, meaning you’re offered something fresh every time you visit.”

     

    If you’re visiting Tokyo, be sure to pay a visit to ART AQUARIUM MUSEUM.

  • Tokyo National Museum Announces VR Experience of the Famous Pine Trees Screen

    05.October.2020 | SPOT

    Tokyo National Museum has announced that it is set to showcase the Shōrin-zu byōbu, or Pine Trees Screen, in VR at its TNM & TOPPAN Museum Theatre from October 7, 2020.

    Japanese artist Hasegawa Tōhaku’s Pine Trees Screen has been digitally rendered in 25,376,150,000 images so that visitors can appreciate the details of this ink-on-paper work of this officially-recognised National Treasure of Japan.

     

    Additionally, another one of Tōhaku’s works, Kaedezu Kabeharitsuke (Maple Trees) will also be available to view in VR from October 6 to November 29.

     

    About the Pine Tree Screens

    Of the many National Treasures kept at Tokyo National Musuem, Hasegawa Tōhaku’s Shōrin-zu byōbu is one of the most popular. It’s a piece that has much mystery surrounding it, with people not knowing the pine tree location that he painted, or why he painted it. The VR experience will look into how the painting may have come about as well as take a stroll through Tōhaku’s other works, his life, and more.

     

    The VR experience is an incredible opportunity for people unable to visit Tokyo National Museum to see a masterful and respected piece of Japanese art.

  • Tokyo’s TERRADA ART COMPLEX Ⅱ Welcomes 3 Modern Art Galleries

    29.September.2020 | FASHION / SPOT

    TERRADA ART COMPLEX Ⅱ, an art complex facility in Tokyo managed by Terrada, has announced the opening of three new galleries: Contemporary Tokyo, Tokyo International Gallery, and UG Gallery.

     

    gallery UG Tennoz

    gallery UG is not only celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, but opening its second-ever gallery at TERRADA ART COMPLEX Ⅱ. The gallery, like the Galerie Maeght in Paris, helps support the creation of artists’ work as well as carries out various promotions and creates opportunities for the growth of young, up-and-coming artists. It aims to help expand the space of contemporary art, which it will do throughout the year at its new gallery with various exhibitions, such as solo exhibitions including one that showcases the amusement of 3D art, to more specialised exhibitions.

     

    Contemporary Tokyo

    Contemporary Tokyo takes on a more international approach by helping support Japanese artists based in Tokyo and various cities throughout China. The gallery will participate in numerous annual art fairs as well display the artworks of many contemporary Japanese artists. Looking towards the future, Contemporary Tokyo will eventually welcome artwork from Chinese artists, becoming a bridge between the art worlds of Japan and China.

     

    Tokyo International Gallery

    Tokyo International Gallery (TIG) was founded in 2019 with a mission to introduce global artists and global methods to the insular Japanese art scene. TIG wishes to to rethink the position of art in society, including environmental issues, urban planning, historical traditions, freedom of expression, and the questions and expressions that arise in the relationship between individuals and groups, subjectivity and objectivity, as well as dealing with subjects that are not framed or not actively discussed in a “borderless” manner. Its aim is to exhibit experimental works by a variety of unique artists.

     

    TERRADA ART COMPLEX Ⅱ plans to open around 10 galleries by spring 2021 as well as a cafe and garden. TERRADA ART COMPLEX Ⅰ, which opened in September 2016, currently has 6 galleries which are also a must-see together with the upcoming new ones.

  • Creamy Mami and Kimagure Orange Road Manga Artist Akemi Takada Gets Exhibition in Okayama

    29.September.2020 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    Kurashiki City Art Museum is now holding an exhibition dedicated to Japanese manga artist and character designer Akemi Takada. Titled TAKADA Akemi Exhibition: Angel Touch, the exhibition is set to run until November 8, 2020.

     

    Akemi Takada majored in graphic design at Tama Art University. After graduating, she entered the world of animation where she learned character design working for the Japanese animation company Tatsunoko Production. She went on to design characters for a range of popular anime series such as Creamy Mami, the Magic AngelKimagure Orange Road, Patlabor, and more. Today, she works as an illustrator as well as a designer for book covers.

    Angel Touch ©TAKADA Akemi


    Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel ©Pierrot

    The exhibition introduces original pictures of famous anime characters and Takada’s illustration work. Though solo exhibitions have been held many times for her in both Japan and abroad, this hails as one of the largest exhibitions ever with 200 drawings. Fans will also get to see new works as well which were drawn for the exhibition.

    Kimagure Orange Road ©Izumi Matsumoto / Shueisha・Nippon TV・Toho


    Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel 2

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