Archive for April, 2012

Jackson Pollock Centennial

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It’s Golden Week here in Tokyo – and yesterday, Minako and I attended the Jackson Pollock Centennial at the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art. Over seventy works by the genius of Abstract Expressionism; that’s a lot of … never mind.

There was a replica of Pollock’s studio, with mock-ups of the wooden floor, and cans of the paints he used.

Would You Like Some Diesel With Your Soy Sauce?

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The other day I went to Kawagoe with some students and visited the Matsumoto Soy Sauce Factory, and was surprised at the retro Diesel Punk atmosphere in which the modern soy sauce is made … if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Check out these huge ancient wooden casks. This is where your soy sauce is made!

Amazon

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The Amazon.com authors page is now up here.

Moonlight, Murder & Machinery

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Available in glorious analog paper – here!

The Toden Arakawa Line

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The Toden Arakawa line, affectionately known as the Ching-Ching Densha because of the sound of its bell, is the last surviving tram service in Tokyo and a charming addition to Shitamachi’s downtown retro atmosphere. It was built in 1913 and is still going strong, although the one-extensive streetcar network has been closed down. It runs from Minowabashi to Waseda station in the West, and a one-way journey from terminus to terminus takes 50 minutes. It’s a thoroughly charming Diesel Punk reminder – that the future is not what it used to be.

The main gate

The map of the route

Even the toilets are Modernist Retro.

The terminus at Waseda, near the famous University.

Minowabashi

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Tiny alleyways and a long, narrow shotengai in the streets of Minowabashi, the downtown area next to Yoshiwara.

Iseya: Tempuraya-san

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Iseya, the venerable tempura restaurant where Minako and I had dinner, just a short walk away from the Weeeping Willow and the main gate to Yoshiwara. The shop opens at 6:00 – by 5:30, the line of impatient diners was starting to form.

Destination: Yoshiwara – part 2

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This is a real Weeping Willow. The Mikaeri Yanagi was a willow tree placed at the outer gates of Yoshiwara. It received its name, ‘The Looking-Back Willow’, from the clients who paused on their journeys home and looked back at Yoshiwara one last time … looked back at the girls and the rest-houses such as the Garden of Unmoving Brightness …and sighed with regret; for they knew they may not live to see Yoshiwara again.

Destination: Yoshiwara – Part 1

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“Voice of the Mirror”, the sequel to “Voice of the Sword”, is set in three historical time periods – one of which is Yoshiwara, the notorious Red Light district of the Edo Period (400 years ago). The place name Yoshiwara was taken off official maps after WWII, but echoes still linger today, such as this dodgy hostess club “Mr. Dandy” which stands where the Houses of the Oirasan stood, and where ladies of the night sat plucking their shamisens to lure masked, kimono-clad revelers to their chambers.

Book Launch Party: “River Road”, by Hillel Wright

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The Book Launch Party for River Road (Printed Matter Press), the sequel to Border Town will be a Sunday Brunch at the Pink Cow (www.thepinkcow.com) in Shibuya, Tokyo on Sunday, April 8 from 12 Noon to 4:00 PM. The admission is 3500Yen and includes the full Brunch Buffet + a signed (if desired) copy of River Road.

Readings will begin at 1:00 PM. Guest readers include Alan Botsford, Allyn Takahashi, Frank Spignese, Hans Brinckmann, Jeremiah Dutch, John Gribble, Wally Gagne, Wayne Pounds and Yuri Kageyama.
Taylor Mignon will MC.

An open mike will begin at 3:00 PM as time allows.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Best wishes,
Hillel Wright

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