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Saturday, June 17, 2006

First time in Tokyo


Caricature artist at work in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. A couple of friends came over from New Zealand to stay with me in Tokyo at the end of last week – the first time in Japan for both of them.

Being a Saturday, and the rainy weather of the past couple of days finally having relented, we went for a bit of a tour.

Began in Roppongi Hills just before midday, and wandered around a few shops before checking out what was behind the two main towers. A caricature artist was at work on a longsuffering subject from Kuwait.

We watched while eating crepes, overlooking the green peaceful vista afforded by Mohri Gardens and their pond. During this time what had been a very overcast morning gradually cleared into an almost sunny afternoon. We then headed for our next stop, the New Zealand Embassy in Kamiyama, near Shibuya.
Mohri Gardens, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo.

The New Zealand Embassy was hosting the New Zealand author Whiti Ihimaera, best known for his novel ‘Whale Rider’, which was made into the equally famous film.

Unfortunately his talk was limited to the politics and sociology of his works, whereas for those not as familiar with his work as we should have been, it would have been more enlightening to have learnt about his life and what motivated him to become a writer.

The most interesting part was seeing clips from a few New Zealand movies based on famous novels, including Jane Campion’s The Piano, Maurice Gee's In My Father’s Den, and, of course, Ihimaera’s Whale Rider.

Street dancers, Shibuya, Tokyo.

We didn’t stay for the panel discussion, but headed for nearby Shibuya to check out what the youth of Tokyo were up to.

Street dancing, mini-mini-mini skirts, hanging out in game centers and trying to stay out of trouble with the cops.
Police checking a motorcyclist, Shibuya, Tokyo.

The game center was a monster of an institution with four floors of jingling, whooping, shrilling, gurgling blinkery and quick eye movement, operated by curiously sedate, almost resigned, thrill seekers, seeking it much, it seemed, like they do their homework.

Game center, Shibuya, Tokyo.

While lining up for tickets at Japan Rail’s Shibuya station, I bumped into a Samoan acquaintance from New Zealand who plays rugby for a team here in Japan.

A huge coincidence to begin with somewhere that madly crowded, and doubly a coincidence considering that I’d first met him at a New Zealand Embassy do a couple of months ago.

Game center, Shibuya, Tokyo.

We’re back at home chilling now, getting ready for round two: a night of pubbing in Shinjuku and then clubbing back in Roppongi (The Warehouse). Party!

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