There's been all sorts of spoken word fun this week. Improvazilla, the monthly very funny improv show was again a lot of fun. Then the monthly Pecha Kucha night had lots of interesting talks by artists and architects and the like, though it was more in Japanese than usual which alas was not very helpful for those of us who still can't understand Japanese well enough! Can't help but think investing in a few other-language comments on their slides would be very helpful... Yuriko Kotani from the UK and Phil Nichol from Canada visited Tokyo and did a great comedy night at Good Heavens bar. Almost as good, obviously, as the true highlight of the week: your very own Brit About Town Layla's comedy debut, four minutes about Japanese language errors, also at Good Heavens bar. Great fun.
Art, cheese and a nice park
My lovely wife and I have long been compelled with the tale of Morioka Shoten, a Tokyo bookshop that sells only one title per month. Google Maps let me down by sending me to their old location... but a lot of hunting later and we found it! Obviously the book itself was in Japanese (curse my language skills!) but the shop had a big cool exhibition around it, which was quirky and fab. Really, this is more of an art gallery than a bookshop. That said, assuming I didn't need to make too much money, this is my dream business. Can you imagine how fun it would be to choose the book every month and design an exhibition and events around it?
5 minutes from Morioka Shoten is the famous Okuno Building. This is an old Japanese tenement that is crammed with art galleries - about 50 of them. You can spend ages exploring the nooks and crannies of this unusual building, popping your heads into the different little rooms, each of which is a gallery. The building is as much fun as the art. Definitely worth a little expedition.
I also tried to go to the Pixar exhibition on its last weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art. A horrible mistake - there were lines two hours long to get in! I have so far found that Japan goes to one of two extremes with art: there's almost nobody there and it's cheap and easy to see the art, or everyone goes absolutely nuts and demands to see the same thing at the same time. But on the plus side we finally got to go to Cheese No Koe, a cool Hokkaido cheese shop where I spent all my money, and also to explore cool local Kiba Park that is attached to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I loved that it has a huge bridge, that reminded me a little of the Brooklyn Bridge, spanning a motorway through the park. In other cities this would be a major design feature in guidebooks, but here there are clearly too many cool things. Anyway, I liked it! Here are the photos from my week: my comedy debut, crazy park bridge, and one-book bookshop.
- Britain's National Theatre Live is back - you get to see London's West End theatre productions in cinemas in Tokyo and it is amazing! You can see both Coriolanus and Hamlet this week in English.
- There's a free, fab festival of Short Films running all month, and while I make no guarantees, word on the street is that they mostly have English subtitles (or are indeed in English). Some are sold out already - so here's the schedule: get booking!
For specific one-night events, read on:
Friday 3rd - Tonight is Nerd Nite at Bar Gari Gari near Shimokitazawa - three scientists talking in an amusing way about their research over beers. And tonight only, the Donmar's production of Coriolanus at Ikebukuro's Cine Libre.
Sat 4th - And for your continuing National Theatre live fix, from tonight, and running all week, see Benedict Cumerbatch as Hamlet at Bunkamura. Or else go to Craft beer and comedy night at Two Dogs Taproom in Roppongi.
Sun 5th - Hooray, it's time for my favourite afternoon drawing event of the month: Pause Draw.
Tue 7th - Tonight is Shibuya's new material comedy night.
Wed 8th - Open mic comedy at Good Heavens bar in Shimokitazawa. Also Dreamgirls opens - this musical is apparently in English.