Snapshots from Japan

I spent a month in Japan this summer. Here are things I want to remember and places I want to return to.  Read on for contemporary art, textiles, craft, electronics and a makerspace. 

Pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama @ the art islands of Naoshima, Inujima and Teshima. 

Mt. Fuji from the Bullet Train.

Shopping in Nippori Fabric Town, aka Nippori Senigai, an entire neighborhood of textile shops. Along with the traditional patterns, I discovered Nani Iro, a Japanese fabric label by Naomi Ito that blends beautiful water color designs with natural cotton and linen.

The official Nippori Senigai homepage is not English friendly but... Blackabbit provides great instructions for finding the neighborhood from the train station, using station landmarks.

If you only go to one shop, go to Tomato-- they have everything.

There's an official map to the area; fabric stores have it at the cashier. If you don't see it, ask.

Speaking of maps...

I discovered the Tokyo Craft Map while shopping for tenugui at Kamawanu in Asakusa. (The craft map also included a guide to events for Tokyo Craft Month in May.) A great guide for shopping!

We also visited Maach Ecute, a collection of artisanal shops located under the train tracks between Akihabara and Ochanomizu stations. At least, we tried to. We headed off in the right direction, following the train tracks, and stumbled upon a wonderful shopping area for handmade goods, like Nocra (woodcraft) and Maito (natural dyed yarns). I later realized we'd ended up at a different handmade-goods-shopping-arcade-under-the-tracks, 2k540 Aki-Oka.  

Crochet couture at LaForet Department Store, Harajuku.

Machine on display, making Totoro tatami mats, at Joyful Honda home goods store.

Akihabara Radio Center

Akihabara is "Electronics Town".  The Radio Center was not easy to find (See the tall yellow sign? That's marking the Radio Center entrance.) It doesn't help that it's like a flea market stuffed into a crawl space.  Or rather, all of Jameco and Electronics Goldmine, stuffed into a crawl space. The prices are comparable to an online US vendor, so the fun is being able to see and touch the electronic components.

Tucked inside of Radio Center--  a small makerspace! PCN ("Programming Club Network")  They had a tidy classroom setup for workshops and sold education kits like IchigoJam, a homegrown breadboarding kit for Basic programming.

Kanazawa Phonograph Museum
We were able to attend one of the daily demonstrations and hear a dozen of the old players.

21st Century Museum of Art, Kanazawa

"The Swimming Pool" by Leandro Erlich

The museum had a textiles exhibition, Nous - Sewing and Living.

Giant hand stitched crazy quilt by Murayama Ruriko

The Ring of the Bolster by Annette Messager: A cat sleeping on a pillow, perpetually circling a giant pile of rats.

And also:

Ito Jakuchu at the Hosomi Museum in Kyoto.

From Gallery Q, a map of the contemporary galleries in Ginza

Tokyo Art Beat - covers the Tokyo art scene (English)

Kalons - covers contemporary Japanese artists