Art Nouveau & Sushi in Tokyo with Alfphonse Mucha & Takumi
On day two of the weekend fun with our Japanese friend Takumi, we decided to take it slow.
After day one of jolly sightseeing in Tokyo we had worn down our shoe soles.
Did you notice how we have knives and forks while Takumi is just using chopsticks for everything. Japanese people can eat soup with chopsticks. So I have heard.
Due to strong winds (I am describing weather conditions) our neighbour provided us with masks.
On that Sunday afternoon it wasn’t just tremendously windy but the sky was turning into yellow-orangy shades and our eyes were hit by sand corns. I was told this sensation is a sandstorm coming from China, however I later read that it was just a regular local occurrence called Haze.
Here is a picture I found on Tokyo Times, so you get an idea about what we were hit by.
That’s why it was wise to cover our eyes, too.
Let me take you to the Mori Arts Center Gallery located at the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower build by Mori. There is a lot of architecture by Minoru Mori, the influential real estate developer who build the whole of Roppongi Hills.
Due to two sad historic city destructions Tokyo is lacking old romantic avenues and ornate houses which made the occasion to see some highly decorative art nouveau the more special. Tokyo is very modern with the image of a city from the future.
Mori Arts Gallery is currently displaying the works of one of my favourite artists, Czech painter Alphonse (actually Alfons) Mucha, the personification of European art nouveau.
The opening of the exhibition was on the 9th of March and the exhibition of Alphonse Mucha’s works will be on until the 19th of May 2013.
In contrast to what it might look like, I am actually pointing to the gorgeous exhibition poster – I am not aiming at Die Hard with Bruce Willis.
The showrooms are a blast with huge paintings, some everyday objects, Alphonse Mucha’s famous posters for Sarah Bernhardt, photographs of himself, his wife, his artist friends and many naked muses posing for pictures.
There are his designs for the stained-glass window at St. Vitus Cathedral which Tomek and have seen at on our first trip to Prague while attending gymnasium (yeah, that was ages ago and I am still a fanatic of both lads).
You can also see a documentary about Mucha’s legendary Slav Epic – a series of vast canvases celebrating Slavic history. I can’t help but brag about our luck to have seen those masterpieces in Montpellier on a trip through France with friends.
This is how a modern Mucha digital picture with a Japanese signature would look like.
I was happy to show Takumi a bit of Europe, my Slavic roots (Mucha was an idealist of Slavic solidarity) and mainly to introduce him to Dasza’s dream world – where Mucha is painting gorgeous advertising posters for the blog and designing the ptraveler website with subtle adornments of his uniquely decorative flowers, stars and an endless range of beautifully detailed patterns.
Probably the most fascinating scenario was the Japanese order that was showing itself in the way Japanese people visited the exhibition. Visitors were forming one line and moving from one picture to the next in sort of a chain. No one would step over the white line taped on the floor marking the safety distance to be kept to pictures.
Except me who never looks at the floor in museums, rather automatically comes close to paintings to get a glimpse of the details such as paint strokes and colour arrangements – the luxury of being able to see originals… and as such I was immediately yet very unobtrusively and politely shown by staff to consider floor markings.
I did, then I moved along with the cue, enjoyed myself and finally ended up at the gift shop. The size of a showroom itself it was solely luring with Alphonse Mucha souvenirs. It took a while until I settled with the catalogue and the exhibition poster but there were some serious choices to make.
For example, I could have gone with the Alphonse Mucha Lolita dress or the tights printed with Alphonse Mucha women.
I think I like the plain strawberry variation commonly worn on Tokyo’s streets better. This fashion sub-culture is called Sweet Lolita and with all the frilly and girly clothing a popular style. Kawai.
Alphonse Mucha cutlery. I do like the idea of reproductions if they are actual one-to-one copies of original design (a rarity with most kitschy repros coming from India).
Mucha has designed some stunning jewellery and cutlery – here you go.
This souvenir vending machine was an art nouveau stunner.
It would give you some pretty unconventional transformations of Mucha’s female depictions of his Four Seasons.
Manga Mucha magnets. Hilarious. Mucha’s Winter looks like Kenny’s secret sister from Southpark.
The artistic fun took up most of the day. Our stomachs were rumbling and it was time for some serious Japanese sushi for which Takumi took us to Iidabashi. The district had a nicely Hanami-style decorated and lit shopping street which characteristically goes steep up the hill.
This place served good sushi for a great price based on the common pay by plate economy.
The Ganso Zushi Iidabashi branch. ‘Zushi‘ is sushi with its sound changed for having a word before it. Ganso means ‘good old original‘.
Location: 3-6, Kagurazaka, Shinjuku, Tokyo (東京都新宿区神楽坂3-6)
Then this happened.
To chill out from all the excitement we went to kind of a Texan bar called Marone near Shinjuku Station where the sweetest Japanese waitress with a tiny star tattoo on her neck (probably a Cloud Atlas person) was serving our drinks while I was trying out my (ten words for all) Japanese to order.
The place was inspired by Texan culture, retro advertisements, pin up girls, American idols and gadgets associated with the wild west. It felt very authentic, like sitting in a boisterous southern bar in the States.
Location: 3-28-2, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Fukumoto Building 2nd floor (東京都新宿区新宿3-28-2 フクモトビル ２Ｆ)
My stirr stick wasn’t any less attractive. I had awesome cassis milk cocktails with mint leafs.
I do remember something about a super intelligent blue robotic cat named Doraemon, a classic anime/manga creature from the future who came to mankind to teach values and to educate. Strange. Must have had too many drinks.
Let’s just walk this poor pink metro-ticket-machine creature called PASMO home now.
Bye bye! See you in (the) future!