19 August 2008

My tips on Japan - Part 1

My friend Karen is going soon to Japan. Of course, as soon as I heard about it, I couldn't help but drawn her in multiple suggestions of what to do, what to see, where to go and what to buy. So in order to make it easier for her and other people interested I thought it might be better to write all my tips down.

My first post would be about fashion in Tokyo.
They are stores everywhere of course. But to make my life easier I usually go to one main place where there's the essence of Japanese prêt-à-porter. This place is also right in the middle of Omotesando and Harajuku districts, where all I could want fashion-wise is there anyway for me to grab. And I go there during the 1st days I'm in town, this way I can move on to other things and I know how much I've spent.

This dream place is called La Forêt.
This fashion store is to Tokyo what used to be Hyper Hyper to London before it closed down. But bigger, trendier and way cheaper. 5 floors of young designers for every taste. The more you go up in the store, the cheaper it is, although it's worth looking at the first floors as well as they often have bargains.
My favorite designers in this place are Chelsea (2F), the chain Olive des Olive (4F I think), Ehyphen gallery (3,5 or 4F), Par Avion (3,5F) and few others. Top Shop also has a small location there, but they only display the most experimental and edgy clothes of their collection.
The building is designed by the English collective Tomato.

The way I get there is I usually get off at the Omotesando subway station and then go up the main avenue, after a must-stop at Andersen bakery because they have these delicious plum pastries.

On my way there or back, I also stop at Kiddyland for Miyazaki movies merchandising (it takes most of the 2nd floor). How about a key-ring in the shape of Totoro? Or a tea towel, or a bento box, or chopsticks?

In this area, you should also of course stroll in Harajuku where you can get a peek at what are the latest trends among the teenagers crowd but where you can also come across great affordable designs, that are inspired by current collections from Comme des Garçons or Yohji Yamamoto but without the price tag obstacle.

But if you want a peek at those great Japanese brands anyway, along with Rem Koolhas' Prada store, it's also in the area.

Plan a day in this district if you're, like me, a fashion addict.

For more fashion, the second-hand way, especially for great shoes, go to Shibuya station. The stores are hidden in the back streets, just few meters off the subway station, behind the famous Times-Squarish crossing that is shown in all the movies featuring Tokyo (lots of people, sound and giant LED screens). You can't miss the stores if you walk towards Uniqlo.


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21 August 2007


Last week, during one of my last night in Tokyo, I felt an earthquake. For the 1st time in my life.
It woke me up, and I must admit, very gently.
A couple of weeks before, Yoshiko had explained to me how to acknowledge the dangerous potential of an earthquake. Turns out, there are 2 successive types of movements: an horizontal one followed by vertical one.
If the horizontal one goes on for few seconds, it means the earthquake is not happening where you are and you can feel safe, because the vertical movement won't be very strong - indeed, it's the vertical one that is dangerous..
If the horizontal movement lasts for a very very short time, then the vertical one will be longer and it means: get under a table.
The same night an earthquake hit Peru, one hit Japan, north of Tokyo, near Sendai, 7.2 on the Richter scale. It didn't cause any victims.
At that moment, it was maybe 4 or 5 am, I was laying on my futon bed and as soon as I felt the horizontal earthquake, I knew what to expect, the vertical movement lasted maybe 3-4 seconds, and then, nothing and then again, a quick horizontal afershock. All together maybe 10 or 15 seconds of an incredible physical sensation that I had never felt before. It was an intense experience, actually very enjoyable, maybe because I was asleep, maybe because I was lying on a futon, hence very close to the floor. I can't describe exactly what my body felt but I was surprised to discover there were unfamiliar types of physical sensations. I felt naive and excited at the same time.

-- Joelle.

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17 July 2007


The exhibition date of the installation Abstract on which I worked for the past year is getting close.
I'm flying next Thursday to Japan with Julie to set it up at Gallery EF so we can open on the 2nd of August.
Stressful and exciting are the 2 words that have been taking turns in my mind lately. I've been thinking about this project since late 2004/early 2005. It took me then 1 and a half years to find the financial resources to get started and then almost another one to develop the 1st version. So now it's a mix of pleasure and frustration.

On top of the help from the Dicream, I got the most precious collaborations from those talented one: Vincent Roudaut who did all the programming, Ailadi Cortelletti who made beautiful drawings and Rupert Huber who did the music.
And while I'm at it, I might as well list all the people who helped me along the way - with a computer or a tripod or a videocamera or a flat or a workplace or advices, contacts, ideas, travelling company.... very Cool people...
Carson Reynolds, Yoshiko Sakuma, Julie Morel, Yugo Minomo, Raphaël Meyer, David Krutten, Philippe Moya Lazaro, Jo Kazuhiro, Tomoko Hayashi, Naomi Hamaguchi and Daï, Alvaro Cassinelli, Dominick Chen, Matt Karau, Stefan Agamanolis, Jocelyne Quélo and la Maison Pop, Christophe Leclerq and Paul Girard and le CITU, Vincent Rioux and Confluences, Izumi and Takeshi Yamaguchi at Gallery Ef.

If you're in Tokyo in August, please come have a look.


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