30 May 2012

GO! FIGURE!


GO! FIGURE!, originally uploaded by datadub.

Giving a presentation on the first five years of Fig-lab at Pecha Kucha tonight!

26 May 2012

5 things to do in Shibamata (with PaulKaiju)


Going to Shibamata is like boarding a time machine and going back 40 years into the Japan of the Showa era. This past Monday, I took the trip back in time with my friend Paul Kaiju and Mori of RealxHead. 

Here is my list of 5 must do things in Shibamata.

[1] Visit Taishakuten temple and see the woodcarvings.
This one of the nicest temples in the Metro Tokyo draw with beautiful grounds and a classic Japanese Buddhist temple layout, but the real attraction is a series of wood carvings that have had a structure built around them to protect them from the elements. It costs ¥500 to see the carvings and explore the outer temple and gardens but its definitely worth the price. There is a free tea machine with 4 kinds of tea and a table where can sit and admire the gardens.

[2] Try your luck at  the shooting range at the Dagashiya 
At the entrance of the shopping street leading to the temple there is Dagashiya - an old style candy & toy store.  Its hard to miss the Coke machine that has been transformed into a robot by the entrance. They have an incredible selection of Japanese candies, knick-knacks and even old pinball and video game machines that you can play. They also have a cork gun shooting range. Upstairs is a toy museum that is only open on weekends

[3] Eat tempura 
There are several places to grab a quick lunch along the street that leads to and from the temple. Mori recommended this tempura shop that has been making the sauce in the same pot for the last 40 years. Its one way to get some of that old Showa spirit into your belly.

[4] Stop by Altr. Tokyo and pick up an eel cat finger puppet.
Altr. Tokyo is a funky boutique with original clothing, and unique handicrafts that combine traditional Japanese craftsmanship with clever functionality; A wood and leather  key chain shaped like a snail with a magnet so you can stick on the fridge at home; a tape dispenser with a gauge that tells you the exact amount of tape for various envelope sizes; and soft vinyl finger puppets that look like a fortune cat but are actually an eel-cat with the Chinese characters for Shiba Mata on the coin. Make sure to say hello to the owner who is the designer of many of the objects for sale, he speaks great English. 

[5] Take your picture with Tora-san.
Shibamata's was set as the hometown of Tora-san, the traveling salesman - a long running Japanese movie series. There is a gleaming statue of the Tora-san just outside the station. You will first see him on your arrival to Shiba Mata, but you should wait till you are about to leave  to stop and take your picture with him. That way you share and feel the Showa Power.

Google map with coordinates

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