Ash! in Tokyo

Here I am... in TOKYO! The purpose of my blog is to document my experience and to keep track of my "Neighborhood Narrative" project. It's going to be an experience for me. New York meets Tokyo!

Monday, May 29, 2006


We went to Kyoto on Wednesday. It was a lot of fun. Kyoto is a lot more traditional than Tokyo. We visited a lot of gorgous temples and shrines. I got to see numerous amounts of National Treasures. My teacher even had special access to a nunnery(?) and we got a tour of the place where the head nun lives. The tour guide took us behind the sacred statue (I forgot what it was called). It was amazing. At night when we went back to the hotel we would all take showers and a quick soothing bath. You shower outside of the bath on a stool and than you get into the bath tube. After bath time, we put on our robes and ate dinner as a class. We sat on the floors and cooked our meats and vegetable. It was like a stew. It was very very good. The Kyoto trip was amazing!

Project Beginnings

I have finalized a solid my idea for my Neighborhood Narrative project. When I was walking down my block the one thing that I immediately recognized was the friendly atmosphere that it presented. Despite language barriers, a smile is familiar to everyone. My project is based around smiles and what makes people happy. I want to go to selected areas on my block and ask people to tell me what makes them happy the most (of course I would need a translater with me for some of the people that I ask). I plan on taking pictures of the person holding up a piece of paper that says what makes them happy and a close up picture of them smiling. I would like to conduct about 10 "interviews" of a range of people; store owners, teenagers, elders, foreigners, and locals. My objective is to put together a book.
1) The first picture is of the specific locations on my block

2) The second picture is of the different shots that I want to have

3)The third picture is of the layout of how i want to put the book together.

I'm not exactly sure what my audio component is going to be, but I was thinking of just recording an introduction with my voice or tape the interviews. I'm leaning more towards the introduction.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

First week is over

I love the culture! I'm getting the hang of the lifestyle out here. A few days ago I walked around Minota-ku (?) to choose my block for the narrative neighborhoods and the area is so chic. I had a few ideas early in the week before I saw my block.

Some ideas:

*cell phones

I really wanted to do something related to fashion, but the district that we have to research is not really revolved around fashion as much as the other areas are. I walked towards Roppongi (area with a high population of foreigners) and stumbled upon a cute sidestreet. I didnt realize it would take me to Roppongi. I wanted to stay far from that area. But anyways, the block that I think I'm going to select is mixed with tradition and chic-ness. Its a sweet little street, busy with locals and passer-by-ers.

Things that I caught me eye on this block:

-Old and new architecture
-Pottery store
-A black man walking fast through the street
-The black man poked his head in a store and greeted some woman that was working.
-The friendly atmosphere
-A water fountain
-A statue of Luck Dong... I went back to it because I thought it said lucky dong!

I thought about what I could do with this block and realized that all my original ideas couldn't really work with it. But one idea that came to mind was the friendliness of the block. There is a language barrier and I wanted to incorporate that as well. So I thought of revolving my project around Smiles. I figured that smiles are universal. Everyone knows what a smile is and everyone can appreciate a smile. I wanted to go about taking pictures of the young, old, local, foreigners, students, workers... etc. And have them smile. But I thought that was pretty basic. The challenge is actually communicated with these people and making them understand that this is for a project. I figured that I have to take to some of the people before they let me take a picture. I was also thinking of creating something that can be passed along and shown in each picture (some sort of object that represents friendship) Perhaps purchasing a flower from the a store on the block and then photographing these strangers.

Besides the Project:

It rains a lot here. I left my umbrella and got trapped in the rain when I was on my way to the design festa. I'm a little upset that I couldnt make it to the festa, but I went a little shopping in Harajuku!!

I drank Sake for the first time. It was pretty strong for a wine. I was anticipating it to be a light wine. The funny thing is, is that they sell it in the 7-11's.

So far so good!

Oh yeah Sumo was GREAT!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

First Encounters

I have been in Tokyo for almost a week now. I'm still trying to learn the little details of living. There is a tradition for everything. When I took a cab from Miyako Hotel, the doors open automatically and the seats were decorated with fragile dollies(?). The driver wore white gloves. I felt like such a dirty American when I scooted my ass and luggage across the fancy-shamancy backseat. But my teacher told me that it's a tradition for hte taxi drivers to open the doors and such. Good thing my hands were full, because I definitely would have slammed the door when I got out.

Here's a list of things that I find so Japanese:

-cell phones
So high tech, america probably won't get them until 2050. HAHA

-cell phone keychains
Not sure why EVERYONE (including grannies and business men) have ornaments attached to their phones. These Japanese accessorize like crazy!

-Packaging Products
Everything is packaged great! I have saved almost every bottle of juice that I have drank. I'm going to have to throw them out when I leave because they will collect dust if I bring them back.

They have so funky hair. Today I saw a old woman- perhaps in her 50's and she had green hair. GREEN HAIR!!

I was in the Shibya area a few days ago and noticed that every woman had such great style. They were so elegant and fashionable. But I the thing I was most impressed about was their shoes. They all wore high heels. And could walk in them well. I give them mad props

I love them. Such expressionists. I haven't spent too much around them, but I plan to. I'm going to take so many pictures of them.

- Food
Lets just say it's very very very very different. Raw Eggs!