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Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 09:21 am
Portable Shibuya

What is it with Shibuya, this ugly retail district in Western Tokyo? In the 90s, the musicians described as "Shibuya-kei" mostly lived in Roppongi, and later moved to Naka-Meguro. But Shibuya has the brand profile, probably because the Hachiko crossing looks good in pictures. Going with the flow, I ended up titling one of Kahimi Karie's American tours "Portable Shibuya". Now there's Tokio-Shibuya: The New Generation, a short season in Berlin (14th to 17th October) bringing Tokyo's new creative rat pack to the HAU theatre in Kreuzberg. The curators have illustrated the brochure, front and back, with Chim↑Pom's Pikachu-painted Super Rats, and -- naturally -- they're invading the Hachiko Crossing in Shibuya.



Of course, when you get down to the nitty gritty, a lot of this "new rat pack" culture comes from other parts of Tokyo. There's a talk by Hajime Matsumoto of the Shiroto No Ran collective, for instance, on October 17th, and when you mention that artist-activist group you think of the secondhand stores, vegan restaurants and dressed-down parties of the Koenji renaissance. Far from the Shibuya chic retail ethic, Matsumoto is all about keeping it shabby; at Hosei University he protested plans to demolish the scruffy campus buildings and invaded the cafe with 150 protesting students when they proposed raising the prices. His aim (and it's become a widespread one in Japan recently) is to get away from "the society in which every move costs money".



The curators of the Tokio-Shibuya season (Makiko Yamaguchi and Matthias Lilienthal) have also invited the chelfitsch theatre company, Click Opera favourites. Toshiki Okada brought his young troupe and their awkward "quotable gestures" to the HAU theatre last December. This time they present three new short plays (Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speech) and a panel discussion on the so-called "lost generation" or (in German) "null-dekade". There's Atsushi Sasaki of "post-techno collective" Headz (and magazine Fader) talking about the cultural metamorphosis of Japan since the 1990s, Sakamoto playing the piano (that happened Wednesday night, actually),and krautrock-influenced band Ghost.



Niwagekidan Penino are a "post-dramatic" theatre group led by 32-year-old psychiatrist Kuro Tanino. They're offering an update on Ibsen (streamlined, apparently, by sending the actors out onto the streets of Shibuya to talk to girls) featuring a girl with a pig nose, another with a sheep's face, and, chained up downstairs, a man whose penis grew from a tree. There's also Faifai, a theatre collective founded in 2004 and led by Yon Kitagawa, a girl obsessed by cosplay. Their video looks, to be honest, less promising than the dark, absurd, comic, Terayama-influenced visions of Niwagekidan Penino:



The Tokio-Shibuya season fits into a bigger Berlin event, happening now: the Asia-Pacific Weeks. Last night Hisae and I trekked out to Dahlem to see a kyogen production at the Museum for Asian Art.



Kyogen is the comical interlude performed during a noh play. Last night we saw a piece in which a daimyo tries to buy 3000 sumo wrestlers and ends up with just one mosquito, and another in which a man who's been persecuting owls has the spirit of an angry owl exorcised by a mountain priest by means of a crow spell (since owls and crows don't like each other). In these centuries-old but funny (and immaculately-dressed) playlets, Shibuya couldn't have felt further away.

25CommentReply

vikinggreeneyes
vikinggreeneyes
vikinggreeneyeswithgold
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)

I must say I loved that first piece. The girl who doesn't speak captivated me while I watched her every movement.


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subalpine
subalpine
subalpine
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)

I was just thinking earlier today that probably the click opera post from the last year that I'm most grateful for is the one on Okada Toshiki/chelfitsch. Without reading about it here first, there's simply no chance I would have paid $24 for a ticket to a play (even though a Japanese friend whose taste I trust mentioned it to me separately). Five Days in March warped my mind with its fragmentary, cyclical syntax..

I've just obtained one of his other books, and I'm hoping to have a chance to see new works by chelfitsch some time in the future. And I hope you'll keep writing about new artists/musicians/directors of this level after you've moved on (/gone back) to your less-frequent essays!


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 09:54 am (UTC)

>the musicians described as "Shibuya-kei" mostly lived in Roppongi, and later moved to Naka-Meguro

While a key figure I'm not sure Cornelius is all of Shibuya-kei. Who else did that? I think elementary school aged Halcali must have been ahead of the trend by already from Naka-Meguro. I thought it was pretty much common knowledge most of the management offices were there.

On first visiting Udagawacho in '95 without any preconceptions of Shibuya-kei, the locale clearly had the vibe of a light low pressure place to have a good time, not old and rich Ginza, serious to sleazy Shinjuku, clubbed out Roppongi full of drunk foreigners, etc.. In terms of art, music fashion, etc there's a sense of enjoyable over both edgy and the serious formal.

But anyway, clearly the West's familiarity with the name still holds the currency to catch what's being promoted. -ndkent


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eclectiktronik
eclectiktronik
eclectiktronik
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 10:55 am (UTC)

This stuff Matsumoto has been involved with sounds great. There's a moral -ethical dimension which reflects the crisis of capitalism and the need for a more sustainable approach to life in general. More!


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)

Well, what about your “Anthem to Shibuya“? Shibuya is just a more catchy label , I guess. Nothing new and nothing too important...


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)

They aren't Shibuya-kei, which is better summed up by model and singer Hinano. But they show just how delightfully spoiled and fascinatingly creative Japanese youth still is, even in this time of recession and economic dread.

The Decora-chan girls also hint at the strange collusion which exists in Japanese culture between the hentai (pervert) and the kawai (cute), and point up an interesting parallel between the international indie-zine movement's obsession with innocence and childhood, and the Japanese fascination with the blossomlike transience of youth, which is referred to in its sexual mode as Lolicon (short for Lolita Complex) and in its musical mode as Lolitapop

Making the transition from the provocatively demure sailor-suits of their school uniforms to the baroque mix'n'match of their Decora-chan gear (Marie Antoinette as a cyberpunk milkmaid), Japanese teenage girls go from one highly fetishised image to another. The crucial difference is that one is passive, the other active; one submissive, the other creative. When they get to Shibuya, the schoolgirls speak their own slang, embrace their own fetish status, and shop deliriously in celebration of their new-found freedom to choose its cutest expression.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 01:23 pm (UTC)

有名な狂言師の野村万作の娘と同級生だった。で、弟も、その後、有名な狂言師として活躍していて、最近、何かの雑誌で、彼女の弟やその家族が紹介されているのがあったけど、彼女は、なんとまだお嫁さんに行っていなくて、弟のプロデューサーをしているらしい
意外な人がお嫁に行っていないというのを聞いて驚き。


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)

気の毒なほどtraditionalな家に生まれて、活発な現代娘のさえちゃんが独身というのはなんとなくわかる気がする。
「え?あの人が独身?」という女性は、たいてい、そういう家庭環境&性格だから。


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 02:13 pm (UTC)

ルイスとエッチしたい。


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 11th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)

EXCUSE ME!Exactly what kind of -ecchi-???
-L(o)uis


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)

これ、冴ちゃんの弟じゃない。
見てすぐにわかる。


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)

Who is Hisae's favorite Japanese pro wrestler?

A) Koji Kanemoto
B) El Samurai
C) Dick Togo
D) Akira Taue


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vogdoid
vogdoid
vogdoid
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)

I was really impressed with "Five Days in March" when it played in Chicago. The young (and presumably non-Japanese speaking) audience really responded to it, and Okada was really friendly and appreciative. It's great that they're getting more international exposure.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
momus the square?

there's something reactionary and conservative about this entry; the older arts are more "artful" and the young people today aren't up to it. other reactionary aesthetes traditionally include, um, rousseau, huysman, wilde, baudelaire, proust, archie bunker, reagan...

please include any glaring omissions...


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
Re: momus the square?



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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
speaking of yoko

it's john lennon's birthday today---he would have been 69 years old. what a shame...


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Oct. 10th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Re: speaking of yoko

I wouldn't say it was too much of a shame.. what other 60s rocker produced a worthwhile album after 1980 anyway?


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parchesss
Parches
Sat, Oct. 10th, 2009 01:03 am (UTC)
Re: speaking of yoko

Paul McCartney did Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Oct. 10th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
Re: speaking of yoko

i didn't mean it's a shame he wasn't able to continue making records, i meant it's a shame that his young son lost his one and only father, you dumbass.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Oct. 10th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
Re: speaking of yoko

Gotta say, I wouldn't have been to upset with that trust fund, though. And sleeping with Bijou Phillips.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Oct. 10th, 2009 06:52 am (UTC)
Re: speaking of yoko

Dylan's 1997 Time Out Of Mind


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microworlds
microworlds
Sparkachu Maelworth
Sat, Oct. 10th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)

PIKACHU


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microworlds
microworlds
Sparkachu Maelworth
Sat, Oct. 10th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)

*PEEKS AT YOU*


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sat, Oct. 10th, 2009 05:46 am (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 11th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)

when you live in tokyo everything short of shimokitazawa still feels like shibuya. Dont know whether its in the same postcode or whatever, but the frequent shuttling back and forth to do shopping in the shibuya malls or go to a party or whatever makes makes it feel like it is. Those pikachu rats kids have their office in shimokita, but thats still almost shibuya. you should see their press clippings book if you have the chance, its thicker than a leg and all guests get to read it, its hillarious.


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