20 June 2019: Akasaka – Odaiba – Akasaka

Having seen two of the best exhibitions I have ever seen at Mori Art Museum, Roppongi, J. and I went to visit teamLab borderless Tokyo at the Mori Building, Odaiba, a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. We took the Yurikamome train, which runs like a rollercoaster over the Rainbow Bridge.

Odaiba or Daiba is an entertainment and shopping zone. Perhaps we shouldn’t have gone expecting art. But it was worth it for the train trip–and we got to see another part of Tokyo…

…and we wouldn’t have experienced Venus Fort, bought dungarees and shoes, or had lunch in the Italian Renaissance–improved with coloured lights, and denim.

Megaweb TOYOTA City Showcase features formation segues,VR, hydrogen engines, and a testdrive track. But thinking it was not the right way, we turned around and were back in the brilliant glare, and went that way, only to have to retrace our steps, traverse the automotive fantasy–the presentday vehicles were ridiculous confections of grinning chrome on unimaginative metal boxes–and take a right under the ferriswheel. And then pay the equivalent of NZD60-70 each, but each receive a branded cloth bag–a collection that would be augmented by two from Deleuze|Guattari-land–and stickers advertising teamLab borderless Tokyo when we left.

It was reminiscent of a fairground ghost train, but done with lights and projections, swirling, interactive, some of them, although what this really amounts to is triggering changes along lines preset … An Instagram opportunity. Less to be experienced than remediated with oneself central–something resisted above. Like a ghost train for the visibility of the architectonics, the ducting carrying air in and out, the ceilings and corridors linking rooms and light-animated environments painted black, and their rectilinearity. A boring space, architecturally, given texture by fx. And with a soundtrack–which gave us the main reason to leave: kitsch and pompous ersatz-Classical, with, in the cube-room snapped above, arrayed with varilights and a mirrored floor, a House beat, swelling strings above, crescendoing at volumes stupid enough to make small children cry. But, as you can also see, some beautiful bits and pieces of animated brushwork thrown in, in the least interactive of the environments, that is, in the most conventional of the displays–the ones with frames, the least immersive ones, the ones with screens simply mounted on a wall for the spectator to do nothing more than watch.

21_21 Design Sight is the same age as squarewhiteworld. Established by Miyake Issey in 2007, in Akasaka, its galleries and shop are housed in a triangular bow building designed by Ando Tadao, half below ground, roofline jutting above. The current exhibition, called Sense of Humor, is directed by Asaba Katsumi–a more perfect antidote to the Deleuze|Guattari Camp could not be imagined. Note the description of Zen in the snap above: the exhibition achieves its wonderful consistency by the rupture of laughter, the immanence of humour. To me it also recalled in its bringing together of disparates in a brilliant heterogeneity of forms and figures the work of the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica.

These clay ovens or grills were all the advertising a small place in a tiny alley a block away from our hotel needed. After alighting briefly in our room, we returned–and were directed to the more main-alley branch of, we were assured, the same establishment. Perhaps it was because they were embarrassed (?) by not having an English menu?

The main-alley alternative seated ten at a bar, with three or four tables, occupied, when we walked in, by men in suits, drinking, laughing, smoking and eating beef. And it seems that that was all there was on the English menu. Wagyu. Sliced, marbled white in photos, or in chunks, on sticks, in soups, on rice or with noodles. The photos showed red faded dull and white gone offwhite and not one sprig of green. We apologised and backed our way out.

On the way to our Hotel Felice a tout had stopped us to ask us where we were from and we found ourselves in his vicinity again and we made the lucky mistake of enquiring as to where he recommended we should eat. Well, his place of course! An underground izakaya where the whole family seemed to have been recruited into service. The food was good, though little of it nonprotein, and the beer and chūhai cold. On the way out, our tout asked if we would give a good review on Tripadvisor.