villagers/creatures of habit

The Aosando art fair pairs up artists with shops in the backlanes of Aoyama. A great way to get traffic to the quieter shops, and to get people to notice new artists.

On each of our visits to Tokyo, J and I have always ended up going to the same restaurants, museums and retail stores. Today, for instance, we chatted with one of the chefs and walked down our favourite street to the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. But just as we note how Tokyo has changed (or not) each annual or biennial interval, I think we notice how we, too, have changed (or aged!!!) each time.

J: I now understand what you mean when you say you sometimes prefer Taipei to Tokyo.
Y: You do?
J: Yah. It's the language thing.
Y: Yes, and with it, the whole thing about accessibility... and alienation (ooh, big word) of cities.
J: Yah, for the first time, I can imagine what it is like to be alone and living in Tokyo - the loneliness and the possibilities.
Y: No kidding. It's a great place to run away or escape to. But in the same way, cities don't give a shit about you, so if you can't fit in or feel alone, it really hits you. Maybe that's why we always go to the same places in Tokyo, just to connect to this place.
J: In comparison, that's why Singapore is so attractive to expatriates, no?
Y: Uh-huh.
J: It has all the pretences of a big city, but in reality, in essence, it is a -
Y: - village.
J:Yah, like a village. Everyone more or less speaks some English. The aunties - if you stay in HDB - will talk to you and ask you questions. In no time, you will quickly find friends, know someone who is friends who someone who is also friends with someone...
Y: Yah. All the good stuff but also the trappings of a village. Which sometimes makes you want to run away to a real city...hah!

Well friends, if you ever feel like running away to Tokyo, there are two places we will not hesitate to recommend in Tokyo:

(1) Have a meal at Chopsticks Cafe or the Sora no niwa tofu restaurant. Both are at Shibuya, and for 4000 yen each, you can afford 5 courses of good food and at least 3 rounds of beer/sake/cocktails. Not to mention the great service and ambience.

Seasonal tofu starter at Sora No Niwa.

(2) Visit Issey Miyake's work
This includse 21-21 Design Sight, a design museum adjacent to the Midtown complex at Roppongi, and his Pleats Please store at Aoyama. The former always has intelligently curated shows while the latter never fails to have pretty (for J's sake) and friendly retail staff who are ever ready to talk about design, no matter how difficult it may be for them in English.

Night view of 21-21, architecture by Tadao Ando. J testing his new camera at 3000 ISO


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