The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Roppongi Hills

I had a great time last weekend. Rori, my old friend from Lindsay (and the person who really convinced me that I would enjoy living in Japan and should apply to the JET Program) just got married last month, and is heading back to Canada next week. So, he and his wife Yumiko were visiting Tokyo for the last time before they leave Japan. We met up in Roppongi, this area of Tokyo that is notorious for being full of foreigners on the prowl for Japanese girls (and vice versa). Well, actually that's just Roppongi at night. During the day, it's actually an enjoyable place to visit.

We started out by checking out a whole bunch of painted bears. The Japanese government evidently sent huge fiberglass bears to every member country of the UN, and asked them to decorate it and send it back. The entries were extremely diverse and generally pretty cool, with the notable exception of the US (who painted their bear like the Statue of Liberty) and Great Britain, (who just draped their bear in a shoddily-painted Union Jack). I guess they missed the point completely.

Then it was up into the immense Roppongi Hills Building. At 55 storeys, it offers a fantastic view of the city. It's dizzying to be up so high, but at the same time, it seems somehow unreal... it makes you feel like Godzilla, as Rori put it. The whole "surreal" sensation was heightened by the fact that, in another exhibit inside the building, there is a perfect 1/1000 scale model of Tokyo with every tiny building painstakingly crafted. I got a weird sense that the model was real and the real city view was a model...

There was also a great modern art exhibit from artists all over the world. In Canada, I think this sort of exhibit would be attended only by "artsy" types but it seems that in Japan, art is much more readily accepted. Anyway, it was really amazing ... the crowd favorite was an exhibit that you had to line up to enter. Only 3 people were allowed in at a time, so the people outside the exhibit had to look in through a window and watch the people inside as they made their way around using magnifying glasses. It was built like a public washroom; glaring white walls and a urinal in the corner. But the artist had constructed tiny ant-sized sculptures here and there, that could only be appreciated through the magnifying glass. Very funny, and the whole experience felt like being some sort of forensic investigator poking around a crime scene.

The final thing was an exhibit of 30 years of Armani fashions. I wasn't interested at first, but it was actually really fascinating. That guy's output over the last 30 years has been enormous, and he truly is the designer to Hollywood. They had about 50 dresses and suits worn by different stars to the Academy Awards... very cool being able to inspect the real clothes up close.

It was nice to spend some quality time with old friends and see neat exhibits before having to start work the next day. Ugh.


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