Tokyo Pt. 3: My #1 Favorite Japanese Experience
If you read the summary you already know this, but the experience described in this blog post is completely truthful and easily my most memorable experience from my time spent in Tokyo, and top 3 of all my time spent in Japan so far. This specific experience not only solidifed my hopes to live in Tokyo in the future, but also gave birth to my new desire to visit the Netherlands at some point in my life. Well, before I get started with this ultra super awesome story, I have to give thanks to the people and friends that made it possible: Simon, Jasper, Anna, and everyone involved with Eddie the Eagle Museum, based out of Amsterdam, whom I met that night at Ultra Super New Gallery in Shibuya, Tokyo.
The Surprise Hip-Hop Tournament with New Friends
Man, where should I start... I'll say this story begins the day prior to the actual day the events took place. So on this day, I think Tuesday, while walking to Harajuku (as I did nearly everyday in Tokyo), I noticed a building with some really groovy looking colors and lights on it. Once I was directly across the street from it I read the sign: "Ultra Super New", in a comic book looking star burst. I thought to myself "oh that sounds like a pretty cool place", but kept on walking. The next day while walking to Harajuku, I passed it again, except this time on the same side of the street as the store. I read the window text and to my surprise discovered it was an art gallery! I thought "wow, that makes this place even cooler than what I initially thought!" I told myself I would definitely have to stop by on my way back from Harajuku and see what kind of art it had. So my day that day was spefically long and included meeting a bunch of awesome people whether it was just walking around, stopping in stores with Jimi Hendrix playing, and stopping by several different galleries. While on my way back from Harajuku I made a few pit stops including taking a photo of the giant mural of a girl with a bandana around her mouth, and when walking back to my path from that photo op, stopping yet again at a seemingly secret gallery that I am very glad I found. Anyway, so I left that gallery and it was already pretty dark outside. I was bummed because I figured Ultra Super New would be closed by now. I checked my watch and realized it was only 7:00, which forced me to rush because I was happy I might still have time to check it out. As I neared the gallery I saw that the lights were on and raced with the crosswalk signal to get to the same side of the building as quickly as possible. As I approached the gallery there was a woman in a red shirt standing outside. She stopped me and asked, in English, if I wanted to come in and take a picture for an art project they are working on, I said "YES! This is were I was actually walking to anyway". So I took a picture and worked on their project which involved, in short, taking peoples portrait shots, deconstructing them, and placing them on top of photos of everyday scenes taken from around Tokyo that resemble a face (referred to as totems by the gentleman in charge of the project). So after that I talked with some of the folks working with the exhibition, and actually ended up talking for a good bit with the artist at the head of the whole thing. I found out the gallery is actually owned by a European and the team involved in this specific exhibition were Dutch artists, designers and photographers. Eventually they were starting to close shop and I asked to take a photo with everyone before I left. Unfortunately they were all busy eating or cleaning up so it didn't happen. But they offered me a water bottle and a snack from the convenience store, and to hang out and chat for a bit, which I gladly accepted. After hanging out for a little bit, I announced I'd be on my way and began gathering my stuff. Prior to me going through all of my goodbyes, Simon stopped me and asked if I would like to join them, as they were waiting on their Tokyo tour guide to come and meet them, and take them to their predetermined plans. I said, "I don't see why not, what are you guys about to do". His answer was probably the very last thing I ever expected to hear in Japan, a hip-hop basketball tournament. I was ecstatic! I love all those things! So I hopped on a train, with these new-found art friends from the Netherlands, and had the funnest night I experienced while in Tokyo. I have to say I truly do appreciate their openness to allow me to join and how awesome they were in general. I said it so many times that night and I'll say it many more times I'm sure... man, I love art people.
Unfortunately I couldn't find my picture on their Facebook, but here is an example of the art project they were running.
Basketball tournament consisted of 3 games, 3v3. We came in a little bit after the 2nd game began, but both games we watched went into overtime. There was an MC commentator, a DJ, big screen and everything! We even got to go behind the scenes and meet some of the players as well as the commentators and DJ.
Moral of the story: make some art friends! Hope to see all of the awesome people I met that night some time again and I'm sure I will.
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<p>I am a graphic design student at Georgia State University. I work in a number of mediums including drawing, painting with oils, acrylics, and watercolors, and screen-printing. I tend to draw inspiration from artists such as Chuck Close, Dan Flavin, Roy Lichtenstein, KAWS, and Jeff Koons. I also enjoy studying different artistic styles as a whole, including: surrealism, pop art and Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Other than art and work, the majority of my time goes to listening to music and attempting to learn anything new from photography to playing a saxophone to transcendentalism. **attached creative sample is titled "A Groovy Portrait of a Universal Soul". 19.5x25.5. Micron pen and watercolor on paper.</p>