After my recent three week jaunt, I’ve come to the conclusion that Japan is the single most awesome place on the planet. Even the Natural History Museum can’t compete with this corner of the world. Heated toilet seats to keep your bum toasty warm, vending machines EVERYWHERE selling anything and everything you could possibly imagine, insane fashion and technology, a polite, honest and friendly population and more culture oozing out of every temple and crack in the road that in a ten litre tub of yoghurt. God, I could holiday in that place forever. Sadly, reality is a bitch and the holiday is more than over. Luckily I have an infinite supply of memories and one of the highlights of the trip was definitely Tokyo’s Design Festa Gallery.
Tucked away in the back streets of Harajuku, this gallery only adds to Tokyo’s um, radness. Every single space in the gallery’s two wings and courtyard is an exhibition space, even the toilets. Everything is a canvas – the walls, vending machines, bins, ceilings, staircases…
The gallery was opened as an off shot of Design Festa, an international art festival held biannually at Tokyo Big Sight, that boasts to be the biggest event of its type in the world. 7000 artists and 2600 booths – quite large. Anyway, back to the gallery. There are 29 art spaces spread between the older West Wing, which used to house traveling gaijin like myself, until 1998, and the East Wing, which opened in 2007. The gallery also features 77 Wall Art Piece spaces. The cost for the artist varies depending on the size of the space and the length of time they wish to show, but the gallery takes no commission on any sale. You may not pardon the cliche, but this place really is an artist’s paradise.
After wandering up and down stairs, in and out of exhibit rooms, conversing with the artists as they cooked with friends to the sound of a little bit of J-Pop and drawing us as egg people, we sat down for an Asahi and a short chat with Nigel, who wanted to find out about our experience at Design Festa Gallery. He quizzed us about Australia, what brought us to Japan, how long we were staying and how five girls from Australia even knew how to snowboard. At one point he may have asked us what we thought about the gallery. We even made it on to the gallery’s blog. Yes, I’m on the Japanese interwebs, I must be famous. What do they say? I’m big in Japan.
This rant really only leaves me with one question. Why is there no place like this in Sydney?*
* Correct answers will be rewarded with cupcakes. Or penny farthings. Whichever I have more stock of at the time.