Friday, June 12, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Video Project-Tokyo Go

Here is my group's final movie, Tokyo Go. The name comes from our focus on transportation in the city. Go also means five in Japanese, which is the number of group members we have. So clever, no? :)

Our group used a different format than other groups by combining our individual pieces into a larger, interwoven short rather than making individual films under a common theme. I created the opening sequence and the train sections as well as filming a little bit of the walking footage.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Big Tokyo LIttle Tokyo

Here is my Japan video. Mark and Amber have been finishing up theirs today but I am the first to post. I am the winner.

Yokohama Spider-La Machine

Dan and I went to Yokohama 8 days ago (Sunday) to visit the Yokohama International Ferry Terminal, previously posted about by Messie. Here are two photos from our visit.

Considering the crazy geometries of the buidling, I think we each did a pretty good sketch of the space.

We then checked out the Y150 expo that is happening all summer to celebrate the city's sesquicentennial (what a great word!). What, from the ferry terminal, we had thought were a flock of birds turned out to be Flogos. When we finally found one that had landed we saw that they're made up of some lighter than air foam. The birds' movement was so lifelike in the way they rode air currents.

Our final stop at the expo was at the giant spider performance art/machine created by art/machine collective La Machine. Here are some snippets from the performance! (Not sure the video will work...we'll see.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Just for fun - Japanese Beer

Yokohama Ferry Terminal

During the beginning of this semester, Andrew and I did a project where we designed a sort of deck play space for children. It was pretty awesome. One of the precedents we used was the Yokohama Ferry Terminal by Foreign Office Architects, and HERE IT IS!

It was super beautiful, but really annoying that they put all the guard rails so that you couldn't use your brain to decide where you wanted to walk and where it was a bit too steep. Kind of fun though.

Karaoke, Japan style

As you may have noticed, no one has posted to the blog in quite a while. We've been pretty busy in the evenings working on our project (the video) and doing other crazy things. I will try to post a couple of things now.

A few days ago, some of us went over to Jinbocho, an area of town famous for its old books. It doesn't sound very exciting, but it was. There was some kind of big street festival going on (which seems to happen a lot here...), so we got a ton of delicious, cheap street food and watched some music for a bit. Then we checked out some of the book stores, some of which had hand-printed or wood block-printed editions of manuscripts. Here is an image of one:

Later that night, Mark and I went over to some of Mark's friends houses to eat dinner, and at about 11 we had to decide: do we leave now, or miss the last train home, waiting until 4:30 am to get the first train?

We decided to stay. We went out to a karaoke bar, which is what everyone does in these situations. Here in Japan, karaoke works a bit differently, with small individual rooms that you and your friends cram into. It was tons of fun, but the next day was a complete waste, as we didn't go to bed until about 6:30 am. Here are some fun images of karaoke:

All in all, a fun time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our Japanese counterparts

On Tuesday night we all met the Japanese students who we will be working with for the next two weeks (or at this point, a week and a half). They were all super nice, but don't know tons of English, so our conversations are really pretty fun. We all went out to a restaurant, which was entirely rented out for our use. Check out photos at the restaurant website: Penny Lane

For the rest of the time we are in Tokyo, we will be working on a short 2-3 minute video about the materiality of Japan (or really, anything we want). We aren't required to work with a group, but we have been collaborating with some of the Japanese students to get some ideas out and to get a more in-depth tour of Tokyo while we are here. When the videos are finished, they will all be posted on the class blog, but we will also post the 3 that we make on this blog.

When we went out the other night, it was also Amber's birthday, and they brought over a piece of cake with "Happy Birthday Amber" written on the plate next to it. After several iterations, it became something else entirely.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 style!

A friend of mine told me that Tokyo could easily be a walking city if the streets weren't so damn confusing. He claims you can walk through "major" Tokyo in 3.5 hours. It might be the biggest urban hiking legend yet, however, subway maps are very deceptive and stations are actually closer than you would think. Not feeling the motivation to walk 3.5 hours, we all decided to rent bikes! And at 5 bucks a week for a sweet rental, you can't go wrong. Well, except for figuring out how to traverse a grid-less city.

So, I strapped my camera to the front basket and have been recording way too many bike movies.
For instance: our ride going back to the ryokan from Fabric Town.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tire park

The other day, before leaving Syacho's house, Mark and I borrowed his bike and biked around the area. This was accomplished by Mark biking and me standing on the one foot peg in the back, or vice versa.

We found a kid's park composed entirely of sand and tires. Filthy, really, but pretty fun. Some of the tires were made into huge shapes and play spaces, but most were loose and the children could build with them or slide down a huge concrete berm with them.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

For James

James has requested that I post the screen shot that he took, finding me in Mark's "Where is Messie?" video. Here you go, James.

Tochyo Tower, Tokyo Tower

The other day, Mark and I stumbled upon Tochyo Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo (at about 45 stories... remember, it's an earthquake zone), and it was free to go to the top. It was a bit smoggy that day, but you can get an idea of how massive the city is.

Then, the next day, Dan, Amber, Mark and I found Tokyo Tower, which looks like the Eiffel Tower. It was nighttime, and we went to the top of the tower to see a completely different version of Tokyo.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Architecture Heaven

The four of us are in the Apple store in Ginza. Some things are universal...though the keyboards here certainly aren't. 

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you that Tokyo is architecture heaven. Everything you've been told is impossible in school, well, you've been lied to. It's not only possible, it's being done here all the time. People on the streets look at us as if we're crazy for admiring the buildings.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where's Messie?

Can you spot Jessie during rush hour at Shinjuku?

Rush hour in Shibuya

Just for fun - Eating fries at McDonald's

Odaiba (Trash Island)

The other day we took a little trip to Odaiba, an island in the harbor made of trash. It sounds like it would be junky, but it has become a very ritzy sort of area. There are also some decent views back toward Tokyo. We ate a picnic lunch on the beach, then walked around to see some of the shopping centers, the giant ferris wheel (second largest in the world) and the Toyota showroom.

View across Tokyo harbor to the city

Crazy Japanese building... and a mini statue of liberty to the left

The giant ferris wheel... second only to the London Eye. The lowest gondola on the bottom right is all glass.

Toyota concept vehicle?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pit Stop

Dan and I returned to our hostel Sunday night to find a note on the door. "The Japan Health and Human Services would like to verify your condition. Please go to the reception desk for a brief health check."

We stopped by reception on our way out yesterday morning. This was not a simple, yes I'm feeling fine thank you, health check. They took both of our temperatures via an armpit thermometer.

We're both well, just a little jet-lagged, thank you.

Day 2... Asakusa!

Our second day we went over to Asakusa, a cool little area where Dan and Amber are staying. There is a really large temple there, and we happened to go on a day that had a huge festival, where each neighborhood dressed in their kimonos (basically like jerseys) and carried around huge shrines and chanted. It was super fun. We also found some great little shops.

After a fairly long day of walking, we headed back to Syacho's house, where a lot of his and Kenji's friends were hanging out, and we had a little mini-party. We tried to stay up as late as possible to get on the right time, but we can only make it to about midnight before totally bombing. Still, it was super fun to meet a lot of people and try to have conversations in Japanesglish.

Backlog... Flight to Japan

Hello everyone! Mark, Jessie, Amber and Dan here, reporting from Japan. Update number one:

It was an incredibly long trip for the four of us into Japan, and once we got here on the plane we had to sit on the tarmac for over an hour while people in full suits, face masks, gloves, goggles, and hair coverings came onto the plane and thermo-imaged everyone with a hand-held device, then collected this health information sheets we had to fill out. It wasn't too bad, but the plane heated up, and we had been sitting for 14 hours already... so it was nice to finally get off the plane.

Then we took a few trains into Tokyo and met up with one of Mark's friends, Kenji. He took us to a cheap sushi place for dinner and then we dropped off Amber and Dan at their hostel before heading back to Mark's friend Syacho's place for the night. At that point, I think we had been awake for 20-some hours (no idea what the time difference is yet) and we were totally pooped. After a few beers with our hosts, we headed to bed and crashed.