Saturday, September 21, 2013

Art, Omiyage and Akihabara

Duck faces

It's only Saturday night but this weekend has been eventful (in my book).

Last night I attended two art exhibits; the first one was called "Thirty Six New Views of Mount Fuji" by Peter MacMillan, and it shows modern twists on the original colour woodblock prints in homage to Hakusai Katsuhika. It was quite beautiful and it's easy to drop in if you're around Omotesando (Spiral Building). The other exhibit was "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad", at a pop-up gallery in Harajuku. The theme is animals, and they sell everything from prints of animals dressed as humans, to house ware and space animal figures. I was in love with every single thing there, and I want to go back to pick up some pillow covers, an espresso set, and some bowls. Everything is surprisingly affordable, and it's one of my all-time favourite exhibits. I highly recommend seeing it!

Today I ran errands at a department store with my boyfriend, and he taught me more about the art of omiyage, those small souvenirs, often in the form of snacks that are given and received year-round. Gift giving is a huge part of Japanese culture, and whole floors of department stores are dedicated to boxes of neatly, individually packaged sweets. You can even have them shipped directly to the receiver anywhere in Japan or even internationally. The boxes of sweets are delicately wrapped an adorned with ribbon and put into a carrier bag (I do hate over-packaging in Japan, so not eco-friendly). I learned that not all omiyage is created equal. Nice omiyage should look expensive and be from a renowned brand. Soft sweets such as small cakes make a much nicer present than dry biscuits. It was such a cultural experience to find myself in that department store. We ended up buying nice bento boxes for dinner (department stores have the best selection of homemade bentos to take out), and a cup cake- literally, a cake in a cup. Such a fantastic meal!

We also went to Akihabara, also known as electronics district, but nowadays more popular for anime fans, nerds of all kinds, sexual paraphernalia for everything you never even knew existed, and adult videos featuring former AKB48 members. Akihabara is so seedy and it gives me the creeps to walk around there, but it's always an interesting experience, and they do have cheap electronics. I found some marked-down film for my Fujifilm Instax Mini, and I saw a grown salaryman feeling up the 3D chest of a mousepad in the shape of a cartoon character. I also saw a dark vending machine corner filled with canned foods like snails, next to Shinkansen train models, which was fascinating. Maybe I should join a club for densha otaku (train enthusiasts)? Fun times!

I'm exhausted.

"Four Legs Good Two Legs Bad" exhibit

My dinner bento 

Wonder what's expired.


philly said...

"Nice omiyage should look expensive and be from a renowned brand."

Always. Style over substance. Omiyage can be such a nuisance to navigate. This is when it's lovely to be able to play the "gaijin" card. Gomenasai.

Malice said...

That exhibition looks really interesting and adorable.

hoihoi51 said...

Furoshiki is an eco friendly ...

hoihoi51 said...

Furoshiki is an eco friendly ...