LOOKING FOR GOTHIC LOLITAS
30 December 2006, Tokyo
We did some some shopping at Laforet and looked for the famous Harajuku Gothic Lolitas and Sex Kittens but found only very few of them hanging out around Takeshita Dori - and at Meiji Shrine there were only tourists like us. Later, we saw an amazingly beautiful show titled Boroboro Dorodoro by Misaki Kawai and Taylor McKimens at Watari-um Museum.
I see everyday many Japanese female + Caucasian male couples but still I haven't seen any Caucasian female + Japanese male couple. Could somebody explain me this, please?
TOURISM IN ONSENS AND INSTALLATIONS
28 December 2006, Gora and Tokyo
I'm on holiday and I like it. My wife is here and I can see Japan with tourist's eyes and it's much more beautiful now, it looks somehow more Japanese.
We were in Hakone and stayed in a high-end ryokan - a traditional Japanese inn, which is more a ritual than lodging. The only things you can do there - (wearing all the time a yukata) are to eat - the spectacular meals are served to your room by your personal hostess, and bathe in an onsen, an outdoor hot spring bath, watching the volcanic mountains. From Hakone you can see the magic Mount Fuji.
Some days ago, we visited Hara Museum of Contemporary Art. I think tourists go to art museums and we try to be common tourists. Hara is a small and cozy place that has a permanent installation of my idolized Yoshitomo Nara. The boring thing with the museums is that they are not for seeing art but conserving it. They let you just peep in to the Nara room from the door. There is a recorded female voice telling you not to get closer and a sign on the floor saying "Keep out - under watch by TV". Does TV refer here to a transvestite?
DEAR SANTA CLAUS
23 December 2006, Tokyo
I e-mailed to Santa Claus and asked him to bring me few things:
1. A Japanese super toilet for my home in Spain (should be delivered there directly, I can't have it in my baggage).
2. This is a secret, I can't tell it.
3. Fame & Fortune.
4. Nuclear weapons of North Korea (all of them).
5. No more cup noodles.
TALKING MAKES ME HUNGRY
22 December 2006, Tokyo
I gave a talk at AIT about my work. The audience, who had paid ¥1000 each, were listening concentrated, asking serious questions and some of them wrote notes! I felt a very important person. We went to have some teriyaki for dinner and I was told that I didn't have to pay because I was the star and the others shared my part of the bill.
After the dinner, I was still hungry and had in another place tofu and fish cake. I missed the last train and I was drinking with Nao shochu all night in a basement bar. Everything interesting in Tokyo is invisible from the street and hidden in the basement or the fourth floor.
Before catching the train back to the suburbs, I had some noodles and rice for breakfast.
A SENTOU WITH A NAKED YAKUZA
19 December 2006, Tokyo
Alex took me to a shopping mall to buy confectionery - material for my drawings. After the hard work we relaxed in a sentou, a traditional public bath, which had a Finnish style sauna but the best attraction was a real yakuza man with full body tattoo and little finger missing. In Japan, all the cartoon figures have five fingers - in the Occident they have only four - because a missing finger would make all the lovely anthropomorphic animals be members of the organized crime.
After the bath, we did some sumo fighting with Mini and Seymour and Rei cooked us tofuburgers for dinner.
MORE CASHBACK & JAPANESE ONLY
17 December 2006, Tokyo
I've never seen another non-English speaking country with so much text in English. The Japanese don't write anything in English for foreigners, they do it because they think it's cool. A good example is that the word information is many times written in English and the information below it is in Japanese only.
I was with Yuko in Yokohama. We had a meeting with Yokohama Museum of Art's Taro Amano. I have no idea if he liked my work. I can't interpret the Japanese. Later we went to an event organized by the Singapore Biennale. After that, we had dinner at Chinese Cafe Eight and Shun forced his father, the Mori Museum director Fumio Nanjo, to see my drawings.
The best thing is that I feel a little bit inegrated in my new neighborhood: I have a red cashback card for the local Ozeki supermarket.
CLEANING THE HOUSE AND DREAMING OF BIENNALES
16 December 2006, Tokyo
I moved to a new place. I have a small house in Minami-Yukigaya, Ota-ku. It's far away from the center of Tokyo but this is where the normal people live. I want to do whatever common people do.
First, I cleaned the house. Nobody seems to clean in these artist residencies. I think artists are much filthier than common people. It was kind of exotic to clean because I don't do it too much at home, our fantastic Romanian cleaning lady Elena does that job. My wife comes here for Christmas and she expects everything to be as clean as Elena would leave it.
By the way, the Mori Museum director Fumio Nanjo replied to my e-mail and he had looked my work on the website. Can I have wetdreams of biennales?
SEX PISTOLS WITH TOFU
13 December 2006, Tokyo
We had Magnus' farewell and my welcome dinner in a restaurant that served traditional Japanese food but was punk rock decorated. Alex took me last week to another place like this. Japanese food associates with Sex Pistols but I don`t imagine Sid Vicious eating tofu with chop sticks.
Mori Museum`s director Fumio Nanjo and Singapore Biennale's general manager Low Kee Hong were having dinner with us but they were sitting in the other side of the table and I couldn't network too much. We exchanged business cards and I'm going to write them now but I've been told that, in Japan, nobody answers to e-mails, specially people in the top of the hierarchy. Here, giving a card doesn't contain any message.
WORLD CUP NOODLES
12 December 2006, Tokyo
For the dinner, I bought cup noodles from a vending machine. While eating my miserable meal, I was watching a TV chef preparing cocido - just like my mother-in-law. I decided to combat the home sickness with a glass of Cardenal Mendoza which I brought from the Madrid airport though it`s not easy to smuggle nowadays any liquid to an aircraft. Today`s lunch was much better: My Welsh Tokyo resident friend Alex took me to Tsukiji - the largest fish market in the world.
POVERTY IN JAPAN
10 December 2006, Tokyo
I`ve been travelling nearly one week. I`ve been most of the time jetlagged, hungover or home sick. I don`t understand much about this city but it doesn`t meet my prejudice: I don`t find neither traditional spiritual minimalism nor contemporary Hello Kitty pop culture.
The most interesting thing has been a homeless community by the river bank.Their home-made homeless architecture looked genuine Japanese. I heard that the Japanese don`t want to speak about their domestic marginalized people though they exist. And the same thing about the sex: they do it all the time but they never mention it.
ROOM WITH A LUXURY GARAGE
05 December 2006, Tokyo
This was a long day: Barajas - Heathrow - Narita. Tokyo is a beautiful monster of anti urban design but it's so clean and silent - people behave too well here.
My tiny room is in a building that houses in its garage two Porches, a Ferrari and a Bentley. The Continental Flying Spur's alloy wheels were the second most beautiful thing I saw today - the number one was my A.I.T. hostess Akiko, who just had got married a couple of weeks ago and was shining Japanese harmony.
A.I.T hasn't given to my use any luxury car, not even a Nipponese one. The Japanese sports cars are a bluff but I'm beginning to like their SUVs - Nissan Murano and Infniti QX56.
But after all, I wouldn't dare to drive in the left side traffic. Maybe Yuko just thought of my security.
AMERICAN FAST FOOD IN JAPAN
02 December 2006, Cervera de los Montes
Q: In Japan, do they have fast-food shops like Subway, Pizza Hut, Hardee's, and Burger King?
A: Japan has many fast-food shops, especially in Tokyo and other big cities, both foreign - like the ones listed above, though Hardee's hasn't made it to Japan yet - and domestic, like Freshness Burger, Mos Burger, and Lotteria. McDonald's, for example, has over 3,000 shops across Japan.
I´m going to Tokyo on Monday.