I went to 14 galleries recommended by the comprehensive site TOKYO ART BEAT DOT COM. I had always thought the site was a great idea, but never actually gotten round to using it! They have incredibly detailed maps, photos, and data for like thousands of tiny galleries all over the city, but how well does it work in real life? You be the judge. I am, as always, an impartial journalist devoid of any human emotional frailty. One sunny Tuesday, I picked 3 adjacent neighborhoods and went to all the galleries listed on the site in those areas, and here are the results:
"GOOD DESIGN" gallery –
10 minutes to find – 1 minute spent at the gallery.
15 minutes to find, – 0 minutes spent at the gallery.
6 minutes to find – 0 minutes spent the gallery.
No longer exists.
15 minutes – 6 minutes
Hand-decorated shopping bags. A contest. Sigh.
5 minutes – 3 minutes
Not real gallery – just a 10 foot space in a doll shop, where some dolls are displayed. I spent more time at the dog costume shop next door:
shirts for humans? for babies? for deformed babies? no. these are all dog costumes.
I especially like how the "tough dog" costumes only fit weiner dogs, rather than actual big dogs.
20 minutes – 0 minutes
Not open, plus the staff chased me down to prevent me from even coming near the entrance! “No!”
not a gallery. A store selling used cowboy tshirts and faux-Midwestern goods.
Couldn’t find it
20 – 0
SPACE FORCE 17- 0
Not a gallery: a record label. And not even a good label — It was on the second floor and the botique workers at the first floor didn’t even know it existed!
15 – 7
Open. Photo exhibit on the fall of communism in Prague.
Not a gallery, just a store with one sculpture.
20 – 0
Old people’s travel photos. The old people were not only there,hanging out, but they were really concerned/angry that even one person showed up to see their art!! “A customer suddenly appeared! Is that OK????” one lady whispered to the staff.
ART BIRD BOOK ( listed as a bookstore. and actually is a bookstore. )
This dude’s shop is 4 feet wide with books on both sides piled up to the ceiling. The owner himself is little more than a head poking out from behind a wall of printed matter, 10 feet away. But he is totally knowledgable about art, and even recommended hella other bookstores that stocked stuff he didn’t have. Wild! Frankly, just being in there freaks you out, and the geometry is all wrong and claustrophobic, if you look at it like it’s an installation piece, it is more interesting than any of the art I saw.
TOTAL GALLERIES VISITED: 14
TOTAL SHOWS SEEN: 3
TOTAL ART I WOULD RECCOMEND THAT YOU "CHECK OUT": 0
Total time, counting food and crying breaks: 6 hours.
But, there is good news too. I had fun!! The act of searching was itself totally exhilrating. Going to a new neighborhood and talking to the people, and finally tracking down some really obscure place gives one a feeling of accomplishment even if it’s closed. Especially in a city like Tokyo which is famous for its random block numbers and crazy grid. Plus all the other random interesting shit you discover along the way to your destination. Who cares about art? You feel like Lewis and Clark up in this bitch!
For instance, in Saruragicho, there are so many fucking cool buildings with nutty architechture. As much as I am loathe to speak well of people with more money than I have, . . .. the rich DO build some shit that is great fun to look at. I will give them that.
like for instance, dog uniforms:
wait, no, i mean buildings:
best art is accidental. below, a spider engulfs the sun:
this guy, above is totally a modern-day castle that epitimized tokyo.
This building doesn’t look that amazing, but if you go close you will see that it is made out of bricks of moss:
above, this housing project. what i loved about it was the conciet of the white stucco, as if this gigantic urban project was actually a rustic little spanish cottage.
more of Tokyo’s incredibly thin, narrow apartments, where the shit that pops out of the top is almost bigger than the tiny-ass building itself. above and below!
This neighborhood is not that remarkable. What IS remarkable, however, is that you can SEE it. Open space in Tokyo? wild.
this guy doesn’t have crazy architechture but it is just so chaotic and the angles are so nuts it pretty much sums up Tokyo.