デパート

Have you seen Shibuya Station recently? Seems to be demolition time, with a new mega-building in the making?

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最近渋谷駅を見ましたか。今デパートとJRホームの構造を取り壊しています。手前で、新しいヒカリエという東急会社のビルが登場しましたが、どんな新しいショッピング・ターワーを作ろうとしているのでしょうか。東横線が今は地下に入ったので、もっと地上のスペースができたのでしょうか。

It seems the Tokyu department store above the station is being demo’d. I expect it will be another mega-shopping, “cultural” and office tower like the brand new Hikarie across the street. I wonder how it will be different and even “newer.”

Another rail change is the demolition of the elevated Toyoko line to Daikanyama, Nakameguro, and on to Yokohama, which has been replaced with the underground extension of the Fukutoshin subway line. Is there a plan on how to use this reclaimed public space?

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Twilight on a department store roof garden. French fantasy meets function.

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新宿の丸井のデパートの屋上庭園は、フランスのファンタジーみたいです。仲が良さそうな若いカップルが多いです。

I love the contrived fantasy of Marui’s Shinjuku roof garden. It’s a large space, with many formal French elements like precise mini-hedges, various arbors, lush borders, and various seating options. At twilight, the lights come on, and I love the mix of formal garden with functional elements like heating and cooling systems, barbed wire for safety, and views of additional Marui building signage and the blank, almost windowless Docomo tower. The photos make it seem empty, but in fact local teens have already discovered this hidden, semi-public space.

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Forest path in Shinjuku connects department stores, Golden Gai, and male host zone

この森の路地は、新宿のデパートやゴルデン街やホスト街をつなげます。静かなので、きれいです。

I love this path that starts at Shinjuku Dori, near the department stores, cuts between Kabukicho and Golden Gai, and ends up at the start of the male host zone in eastern Shinjuku. I wish all my city walking could be done on this narrow green path with mature trees.

Seeking prosperity with rakes, booze, hot glue, tattooed Kewpie

酉の市が大好きです。日本の神道では、神秘的なものと幸運を探しながら、熊手やお酒や入れ墨のキューピーからご利益を得られます。浅草はもっと伝統的ですが、花園神社は私の一番のパワースポットです。歌舞伎町と二丁目とデパート本店の間だから、とてもかっこい人が集まります。三十万円の熊手を見ました。去年私は千円のを買って、今年は二千円のにレベルアップしました。来年はすばらしい年になります。

I’ve written before how Tori no Ichi is one of my favorite festivals, with its focus on seeking spiritual intervention for a prosperous year. Perhaps Asakusa is a more traditional place, but I particularly love attending the festival at Hanozono shrine, mid-way between Kabukicho, Ni-chome, and the department stores. The crowd is Tokyo’s most beautiful people: the world of late night drinkers, huge hair for men and women, animal prints, and shiny fabrics.

If it weren’t for the food stalls, it would be easy to miss the entrance on Yasukuni Dori, with the fiver rows of lanterns barely competing with the neon, fluorescent signage, and hundreds of taxis.

The focal point of the festival are the “kumade,” which are good luck rakes made of bamboo, rice, (often artificial) pine, and paper and plastic good luck charms hot glued. There are dozens of stalls, and the most expensive ones need to be carried out by two men. The one below cost 300,000 yen (almost US $4,000).

In addition to kumade sellers, there are many regular festival food stalls, and also make-shift drinking establishments with tables and chairs. I like how the one below wraps around a mature tree.

The convergence of spirituality, drinking and materialism is dizzying. The proprietress of this food and drink stall is wearing a headband full of cash.

Almost anything can represent good fortune. I love how this Kewpie doll, the mascot of Japan’s #1 mayonnaise, also has a headband of cash and a full body tattoo. There seems to be an even higher than usual correlation between this festival and the yakuza who are its sellers and celebrants.

Even the children’s cartoon Anpan man (his head is a round anko bread that can be eaten when necessary) can be incorporated into the rake.