This week I have been reveling in the joys of wordless entertainment in Tokyo (even though I didn't end up going to the silent Swedish films). I find myself spending a lot of time hunting down English-language events in Tokyo (predominantly produced and attended by native English speakers), the occasional Japanese events with translation (which I deeply appreciate), or 'bilingual' events (where I only understand part of whatever's happening). I'm not complaining of course - it's my own fault. I'm working to learn Japanese but my progress is disappointingly slow. But as a person who particularly values (a) feeling part of a city, and (b) attending film, theatre, book talks, lectures, and other spoken word events, it can sometimes be really frustrating to be excluded from so many of these because of the language barrier. I feel constantly left out.
So that said, this week has been remarkably nice, featuring two different entertainments without any words in them. It meant I got to go to events and experience them in the same sort of way as the diversity of other random people who live in this city, all of us bonded by the shared desire to see the same thing at the same time. I saw the beautiful new Studio Ghibli film Red Turtle. While I wasn't 100% sure what it was about, it was lovely. Also this week I went to the juggling/dance show by French performance artists at Setagaya Public Theatre in Sangenjaya. Liberated from language, it was a beautiful, quirky little show, even though I couldn't find the theatre for ages (it's on the third floor) then didn't have cash (ATM is on the ground floor) so had a rather frantic start. I also had an excellent G&T afterwards in a cool little bar called Sheets nearby.
I got to appreciate the rare treat of Japanese-style events translated into English for the second time this month. My favourite rakugo storyteller Tatekawa Shinoharu performed his biannual rakugo storytelling show in the little theatre at Fujigawa Edo Museum this week and he was brilliant - sweet, funny, compelling, and he didn't repeat any of the stories I've heard him perform before. We need to get him to perform at Perfect Liars Club sometime! I was very interested, on the topic of rakugo, to read the Japan Times article this week about English language rakugo, including lessons. I'm hoping to sign up for lessons next year. I also saw some of the best comedy since I've been to Tokyo - Johan Glans, a visiting comedian from Sweden, was rather brilliant at Good Heavens this week.
Oh, and I got to draw at PauseDraw - my favourite art event in Tokyo. What a fun week.
The coolest things to do in Tokyo this week
Sat 22 Oct - During the day, if you want to try English language rakugo and fancy going to Chiba, Tatsuya Sudo is performing in a free show at Miyako library. Or watch a livestream of TEDxTokyo. Then go hear an orchestra play the music of Tim Burton at the Tokyo International Forum at 5:30pm, accompanied by clips from the films - it should be cool. Or go see free short films with English subtitles at the Short Shorts film festival. Later, enjoy more Roppongi Art Night fun. Or participate in Journey to the End of the Night, a cool race/game around town with a space theme. Much fun is promised today.
Sun 23 Oct - The Pirates of Tokyo Bay put on a bilingual improv show tonight in Ebisu. The music of Tim Burton is also on tonight at 12 and again at 5pm. This is the last day to see free short films with English subtitles at the Short Shorts film festival.
Mon 24 Oct - There's rarely anything good on Mondays, I've noticed - could someone please oblige by starting up a cool Monday event? Or tell me more stuff happening that I can share. Thanks. In the meantime, a Broadway production of Kinky Boots is on in English at Tokyu Theatre Orb all this week til October 30th. Weirdly today it's just on at 1pm... check out the link for times.
Tue 25 Oct - I'm in a bit of a huff with Tokyo International Film Festival which kicks off today: I tried to buy tickets, but their website was overwhelmed and crashed, and now lots of stuff is all sold out. But not everything, so go try your luck. Here's the day-by-day schedule. If the film's name has a red cross it's sold out. It's also New Material Comedy Night in Shibuya.
Wed 26 Oct - Tonight's the Good Heavens Comedy Club - looks like another funny night! There's also a special Pecha Kucha night on tonight in honour of Tokyo Design Week, which kicks off today. Hear design-y talks from the Olympics logo designer, someone who makes prosthetic fingers, and more It's taking place in a new venue too, in Meiji Jingu Gaien. Check out Design Week's other cool events. It looks interactive and fun.
Thu 27 Oct - There's an interesting screening of Design Disruptors at the Hub in Meguro, with a discussion afterwards. Learn about how Facebook, Google, Netflix and others embed design in their business.
Fri 28 Oct - My second favourite night of the month (after Perfect Liars Club) - it's Improvazilla at the Crocodile! This improv show is high quality and usually hilarious - absolutely worth a trip. Of course being the last Friday of the month means it's also the event I'd love to go to but can't bring myself to skip Improvazilla - it's the story/poetry/song evening Drunk Poets See God. AND Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School has a Halloween-themed event, combing drawing and burlesque. I really wish these three awesome events would spread themselves over three Fridays instead of all being on the same night! Or Mondays...