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Lying guides in London - click opera
February 2010
 
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Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 11:10 am
Lying guides in London

"Welcome to Tokyo! Youkoso!!"

So begins the London-as-Tokyo tour, in front of the Royal Festival Hall, on one of the sunniest days of the summer. Hisae and I are dressed up as North Koreans, and tell our small but faithful audience (a couple of whom are with us, off and on, all afternoon) that we guide half the week "Here in Tokyo", the other half in Pyongyang. "That's an easy job, we just switch on the lights in the city's opulent subway station, full of statues, fountains and chandeliers, give the tourists a glimpse of people getting on and off the train, then usher them back up to street level, making sure to switch off the lights in the subway when the last actor leaves."



Our Tokyo narrative -- interrupted several times by private security spooks from the various South Bank facilities, who approach in shades to tell us "This is private property, mate!" -- is half-realistic, half-Munchausian. Mizutani-San, for instance, describes Chim^Pom's crow project. The artist collective captured crows early in the morning, strung them together in a black cloud, and tied them to a motorbike parked in front of La Foret Harajuku. They were hoping that the crows would be able to lift the motorbike into the sky. In reality it didn't work, but in our version it does, and all distances from that point on are measured "as the crow flies with the motorbike hanging below".

The famous -- well, not-so-famous -- episode of the Hiroshi Fujiwara yellow lapel button is described, too: spotting some Filippino tourists with yellow buttons concealed under their lapels, famous trend scout Fujiwara declared yellow buttons de rigeur, which they were for precisely one month: August 2004.

It was fairly easy to map Tokyo mayor Ishihara's Tokyo Town Hall to London mayor Johnson's bulbous building along the, um, Sumida River. Gesturing towards City Hall, I lie through my gigantic Cold War bullhorn that Ishihara's re-election campaign included the promise to kill post-menopausal women and foreigners. He won easily, I say, defeating rival Kurokawa's architectural plan to make Tokyo a Metabolist utopia, a huge tangle of concrete seaweed rising into the sky. Kurokawa died later under suspicious circumstances, flayed by giant squid. Later there's praise for the yakuza, Japan's racially-blindfolded equal opportunities employer, welcoming Chinese, Koreans and other ethnicities into its ranks without pride nor prejudice.

Waterloo Bridge becomes one of the walkways outside Shinjuku Station, and I produce a fake earthquake resistance certificate which claims the structure can withstand quakes up to 27 on the Richter scale. Mizutani-San and I then describe the tearful televised apology of the construction boss responsible, moving on to descriptions of tearful televised apologies from comedians who've taken underage girls into love hotels (in fact a statutory obligation for Tokyo citizens). Since ruddy-faced ex-Python Michael Palin is signing books nearby, I compare this situation to seeing Palin weeping on TV as he explains that since John Cleese has been caught enticing a teenager into a love hotel, they'll both be quitting as Pythons immediately. I don't think Palin hears.

The National Theatre becomes La Foret Harajuku and I explain that, since in Tokyo the revival cycle isn't our Western ten years but ten minutes, the fashions on display in the boutiques on the first four floors are subject to noisy sales if they don't sell after eight minutes or so and then, if unsold, sent upstairs to the La Foret Museum, where they're exhibited as history.

I describe meeting an old bald pervert in this museum, a man with little round glasses and cow-licked hair -- obviously a pervert, since he's the only male in there apart from me. But when I approach, trying to get some good tips about two-way changing rooms mirrors and upskirt camera angels, I'm pounced on by security: this is actually Japan's premier shibari photographer, Noboyushi Araki. He's passed through various phases of impotence, from bondage to floral photography to, finally, architectural shots of prisons. "If you find yourself getting interested in flowers then flying buttresses," I warn males in the crowd, "you're probably passing through what we call the Araki menopause".

The lunacy continues today: we're on the South Bank from 1 to 6pm.

22CommentReply

electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 10:22 am (UTC)

"Since ruddy-faced ex-Python Michael Palin is signing books nearby, I compare this situation to seeing Palin weeping on TV as he explains that since John Cleese has been caught enticing a teenager into a love hotel, they'll both be quitting as Pythons immediately."

What??!


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obliterati
obliterati
Night of the Living Dave
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 10:45 am (UTC)

Random Anime (randome?) of London



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olliecrafoord
olliecrafoord
Ollie Crafoord
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)

What an amazing entry, haha. :)


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cookie_puss1
cookie_puss1
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)

Nathan-San and myself had a great time yesterday on the guided tour of Tokyo.
We never would have imagined crows were so integral to Japanese culture.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
contact

hello.
this is yuly from madrid. i just would like that you contact me through info@byzebrabooks.com you can check the web site and see what I do in www.byzebrabooks.com I would like to send you a book. thank you.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
tangled star

I love you more than I thought humanly possible.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)

Very much enjoyed my tour yesterday, and it was excellent to catch up with you and Hisae at lunchtime too. Sorry I had to dash off but I had games to play and a flashmob freeze to baffle the tourists with (terrific fun)!!

Miles


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)

What did Hisae say?


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)

Well, I certainly found the tour enjoyable and improving. A pleasure to meet you & Hisae!
Ross


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pay_option07
pay_option07
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
crows would be able to lift

Your lucky to have them. West Nile Virus just about made them extinct this side of the pond. Je le souhaite bonne chance, La folie vivre.


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butterflyrobert
RND
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)

Now this is the type of fun that I imagine everyone secretly wanting to have.


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viceanglais
viceanglais
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
"If you buy a Muji bicycle you'll be at least 60 inches off the ground more spiritual"


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hkoutsider
hkoutsider
hkoutsider
Sun, Jun. 29th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
Re: "If you buy a Muji bicycle you'll be at least 60 inches off the ground more spiritual"

kino ha tanoshikatta!! hihi momus here it comes edine! now i added my obselete old livejournal to yours so we ll be connected... i cudnt make it to today's as i crashed to my bed all day... how did it go? did any authentic japanese stop by and attend the tour? i will email u some funny pix these few days ;) juz a quick note to thank u for sharing a lovely day with us!!!!
btw heres my band's myspace if u dont hate myspace too much douzo...!
www.myspace.com/themarshmallowkisses
yoroshiku

edine


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jun. 30th, 2008 10:44 pm (UTC)
Re: "If you buy a Muji bicycle you'll be at least 60 inches off the ground more spiritual"

Nice to meet you the other day, Edine, just listening to your music now, it sounds remarkably like The Poison Girlfriend, a Japanese singer I worked with in 1993!



Send me the pix you took, I have some nice ones too!

Edited at 2008-06-30 11:09 pm (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 30th, 2008 09:21 am (UTC)

Let's hope you don't get beaten up by a gang of chavs.


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farblust
farblust
Mon, Jun. 30th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
Is it just me or what?

is it just me being suspicious? Did you try to imitate Pizzicato 5's costume?? And I seriously think you must be harrassed by chavs!



btw, did you visit Haywards' psycho building exhibiton, it's brilliant!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jun. 30th, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Is it just me or what?

did you visit Haywards' psycho building exhibiton, it's brilliant!

We did, and it was!





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thomascott
thomascott
Thomas Scott
Mon, Jun. 30th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
Up with fun

I'm just in the door from Paris so am catching this rather late in the day, hope it went well, sounds like Hisae, you and your audience had a blast.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 30th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)

It makes me happy.

I'm not sure chavs would have known what to say. 'You're weird' would probably cover it. How delightfully right they would have been.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Jul. 1st, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you

What a pleasure to witness your glorious display of absurdity in public, which is of course the only sensible place to practice absurdity. We tried not to make it too obvious that we were following you around. I just couldn't hear enough of it. I particularly liked the moment when you randomly asked your girlfriend if there was anything she would like to apologise for. You made my day, maybe even my week. London takes itself, after all, so seriously now.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Jul. 1st, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you

Ha, glad you liked it!

It wasn't entirely random -- we were coming to the end of the second day, and of the festival, and I just thought we should make a clean breast of it and admit that we'd been lying all weekend. It seemed like the most Japanese thing to do (and it led to a long digression into the distinction between Shame and Guilt cultures, omoto and ura, public face and private conscience). Then there was a bit, I think, about how sumimasen -- I cannot be excused -- is a really arrogant thing to say. It must've been about then that I asked Hisae if she wanted to apologize for anything, and took these pictures, which you may in fact be in (is that you with three legs in the middle?).




Edited at 2008-07-01 08:17 pm (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Jul. 4th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
wow!

can we borrow that megaphone
when we support you at west germany the 2o th of july?

topmodel rinus


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