Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

2009/03/01 Design Festa Gallery, Cat Street, Omotesanda Street, Harajuku Bridge

Having reoriented myself from Takeshita dori, we crossed Meiji Street to a landmark I remember — the Birkenstock Store.  It’s in a flat iron shape, with the street forking off.

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The fork on the east side is Harajuku Street.  I remember walking down this stretch and thinking that the buildings didn’t seem very interesting.

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One or two intersections up, looking to the right, is a strange building at the end of the street.

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Design Festa Gallery always amuses me, with the nearly-random pipes on the front facade of the building.

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Since I’ve been to the gallery before, I decided to start on the upper floors for a change.  The murals on the stairwell walls are entertaining.

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We were greeted by two Japanese girls, who asked us to rate our favourite student paintings of the day.

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Rating the paintings might have been easier if we could read and write Japanese.  We did our best to indicate the ones we liked.

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The Design Festa Gallery is a modest space, where artists at varying levels of development can show their work.

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Some more mature artists are more confident with larger works.

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Beyond paintings, some artists prefer alternative materials, such as fabrics.

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The Japanese and western styles of art sometimes get mixed.

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On the main floor of the gallery is a cafe where visitors can grab a coffee or tea.

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On the first floor, portraits filled one of the small rooms.

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Through the sliding doors out onto the back porch, a sign pointed to the newer second gallery.

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Between the two wings is a cafe that specializes in okonomiyaki.

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Getting to the front entry of the east gallery requires squeezing past a fire escape.

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The Design Festa Gallery east has a large open space on the ground floor, with a room and smaller spaces upstairs.  On this trip, there was a private showing, so we moved on.

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Just south of the gallery was a lane back to formal entry.

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Looking up, the lantern suggests that this is a restaurant, but it wasn’t open this early.

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As I bicyclist, I notice what other people ride.  This would seem to be a serious rider, with two water bottles on the back.

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Further south, Cat Street has a better paved road where in front of the clothing shops.

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I don’t think that I’m sufficiently trendy to enter some of these clubs.

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I was amused at the borrowed Americana with a restaurant built into an Airstream motor home.

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To cross over Omotesando, we climbed up onto the overpass.

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Looking east, we could see Oriental Bazaar, which is known for Japanese-made (i.e. not made-in-China) products, good for gifts.  Marianne’s suitcase was already full, so it wasn’t a major attraction for us.

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As we headed back, I noticed another bicycle, this time more distinctive in style than function.

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After wandering around Harajuku Street some more, we decided to have a quick lunch at Rommy before heading to the airport.

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Rommy is a modest restaurant, and might be family run.

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There’s barely enough room in the kitchen in the back for one cook.

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From the options on the brief menu, I picked the burger and egg with spaghetti.  In the west, we wouldn’t have included the miso soup and rice, but in Japan the combination works.

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As we exited the restaurant, I noticed the metal tiles on the ground by the threshold

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As we walked back on the major street, we noticed two girls sitting in a see-through truck.  I didn’t realize until later that these were the musicians Vanilla Beans, in one of their promotional stunts.

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Crossing back over to the west side of the street on the overpass, we got a good view of the Harajuku plaza, without many of the cosplay teenagers I’ve come to expect.

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The plaza does seem to be a good location to meet up with friends,

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We headed back into the Harajuku train station for a brief stop to pick up luggage at the hotel, and then on to the airport.

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The Design Festa Gallery and Harjuku are a regular stop on every visit I make to Tokyo.  The energy of the young always perks me up.

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