art

Fuck art, let’s kill

Tokyo easily lulls you into a sense of safety in public, unlike any other city in the world. This is a country where even the mob puts on a friendly face to foreigners. That’s why it’s all the more absurd and arresting to see violent imagery. On a date with a girl dressed as an anime princess, this fairly ordinary guy’s t-shirt reads, “Fuck art, let’s kill.” I hope the princess doesn’t understand English.

Advertisements

Quick trip to Taipei

Din Tai Fung window

I made a 44 hour trip to Taipei this week: the visit focused on eating, buildings and streets, contemporary art, and botany. The trip started at famous Din Tai Fung, with soup dumplings, hot and sour soup, shrimp and pork dumplings, and pea shoots. The place was mobbed, with many Japanese tourists.

Din Tai Fung soup dumpling

Other food highlights was the Japanese style onsen at Villa 32 in the northern suburbs, with indoor and outdoor hot spring pools and a delicious Italian restaurant. I took the combo public bath and lunch special, which was very relaxing and a chance to see the local upper class in action.

Villa 32 restaurant and onsen

Other culinary treats include beef noodle soup, pork chop noodle soup, Mister Donut (imported from Japan). I was amazed at how international Taiwan is, including my “Norwegian-style” budget chic Hotel Dandy.

Walking around Taipei, it’s striking just how many scooters fill the streets and sidewalks.

Taipei scooter traffic

They also occupy a majority of the sidewalks.

Taipei scooters on sidewalk

Vernacular architecture includes vertical commercial buildings and aging concrete, including this sublime corner building in a wave shape:

Vernacular Taipei architecture

The wonderfully tropical weather was a great change from fall in Tokyo. It also seemed in many places that the jungle would soon re-occupy the city without constant human vigilance.

Jungle reclaims Taipei building

Of course, I also saw and entered some spectacular buildings, including the Spot, formerly the American ambassador’s residence and now an art theater, bookstore and super-chic cafe. Also the 300 year old Longshan temple, full of worshipers, offerings, incense and candles.

Longshan temple in Taipei

And on my way back to the airport, I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art and saw its show of young local artists called Super-Generation. The art was fun, as were the friendly art chicken docents. One of whom described how the building was constructed by the Japanese, who were “taking care” of the Taiwanese during the first half of the 20th century. An odd choice of words to describe an occupation.

Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei

Also on my last day, I strolled through the gorgeous Botanic Garden, which includes many palm trees, and sections based on “idiom plants” and “literary plants.” Lots of older people doing qi gong exercises and school children.

Taipei botanic garden

Our friends Jennifer & John visit

on the Chuo line

Our friends Jennifer and John are visiting us from San Francisco. They arrived just in time for Shu and his parents’ gallery show’s final day, and selected some ceramics and paintings, including the cool cats from the invitation. Here they are on the Nakano platform of the JR Chuo line. We’ve shared the final days of sakura season, curry rice, tofu, ramen and tempura meals, the coffee shop run by the sisters for 37 years in Broadway Nakano, and long walks through Meijijingo Park, Harajuko, Omootesando and Shibuya. It’s their first visit to Japan!

Haru: Show opened on Friday

Friday was the opening day for Shu and his parents’ small gallery show. Claire came with her kids Morrison and Elie, as did our unconventional monk friend Hiromi. Others included his parents’ ceramics students, my mother-in-law’s tea ceremony teacher, a new customer, and good friend Mayuko with her husband Kota and adorable 3 month old Yujin (named after rock and roll pioneer Eugene Vincent). I was surprised and thrilled to see my good friend Takahiro, whom I met years ago in Beijing. He’s now launching his own contemporary Asian art organization Far East Contemporaries. Shu and his parents’ show lasts for ten days, so please come by if you are in Tokyo!

Claire, Morrison, Eli, Hiromi & SHu