Sunday, January 20, 2008

Friday, and Super Deluxe in Roppongi Hills

My first Friday in Tokyo! Not that it was particularly special because every day has felt like a friday because each and every one has been so special. This Friday was special because it was the day Temple University Japan Campus hosted a sake tasting event, lecture, and cultural education performance viewing. It was at Super Deluxe in Roppongi Hills which has been rated by top Japanese newspapers as one of the top avant garde nightclubs in Tokyo. I am just constantly amused by the fact that TUJ has taken us to Roppongi, and then sponsored an event in that neighborhood that they previously warned us to stay out of.

When I was on my ride in toward campus Friday morning I had to get off the train because they were decommissioning that specific one for a nice clean after the morning rush hour, and I saw this poster for Denzel Washington's film, American Gangster. Apparently it is coming out soon in Japan. 

I'm sure you've all heard of the crazy vending machines in Japan, well there aren't ones that are terribly odd, except they still have cigarette vending machines, and also beer/sake vending machines. At least I suppose there is more than one beer/sake vending machine, but the only one I have seen so far is right by campus. Can you see the red "T" in the background toward the left? Yup, that's the main building of the TUJ campus.

Seeing as it was the first Friday I couldn't resist the picturesque opportunity to buy a beer from a vending machine right off campus. I didn't drink it (because I don't particularly care for beer), so maybe it was a waste of 200 yen.

On my way to Super Deluxe for the event I walked by the super cool spider sculpture outside of Mori tower again in Roppongi Hills. This shot is a little blurry because my hands aren't still enough for night shots, but I like it against the dark sky, Mori tower, and the moon nonetheless. 

My friends, Brian and Sebastian, are as into photography as I am, and we'll often do funny things for a shot. Sebastian is blocking a bright light for Brian so Brian can get a good shot of the spider sculpture.

Tokyo looks entirely different at night. This is a shot of Roppongi from Roppongi Hills, and the lights make the city seem much more alive and crowded compared to the brightly lit day.

This is a perfromer from the Pacific Culture Club playing the Koto, a traditional Japanese instrument. To ay the instrument you wear special picks that allow you to get a crisp sound from each string. Interesting fact: Past Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones used a koto in two tracks, on his 2001 solo album, The Thunderthief.

I spent a lot of time at the club playing with my camera and composing photographs. It was really difficult to get pictures that were meaningful, clear, and had good composition. I like this one because it's one of the women from the Pacific Culture Club who practices traditional arts and shares them with young Japanese people and foreigners alike, and in the foreground is a young Japanese girl watching the Koto being played onstage. 

Later in the semester I will be attending a Pacific Culture Club traditional arts workshop and seminar organized through the school. The itinerary says there will be a kimono fitting, calligraphy, koto playing, and other activities.

The women of the Pacific Culture Club packing up their Kotos as I look on from behind some flowers.

The next performer played the shamisen, which is another traditional Japanese instrument. He was very good. It is a unique instrument, and the artist was very good. I wish they introduced him before he went on. To hear shamisen, you can visit this link: it is the website for the band "God of Shamisen" which claims itself to be a hard core metal band, but with reliance on the shamisen instrument.

I love playing with photography. This is a Pacific Culture Club member watching the stage as the shamisen is being played.

After the instruments there was a lecture on how sake is made, and following that was a fashion show. The lecture was interesting. Sake is made purely from rice, it isn't a wine, but rather a brewed beverage with the highest natural occurring alcohol content of any alcoholic beverage. There is special sake rice where the fat and protein of the rice grows on the outside, and the starch, which is what converts into sugar is all in the center, which makes for a particularly pure brewing process. Sake is made by washing the rice down until it is mostly starch, then letting it soak in tubs with a special kind of mold that begins the conversion process of starch to sugar to alcohol.

It was difficult to hear the lecture because it was a particularly loud club at the time, but then the fashion show began and there were some very interesting outfits. The fashion show was designed to be high fashion displaying the art and culture of Japan.

I had a bad vantage point for most of the fashion show, but I was saved by my high-quality camera, I was able to capture a good deal of shots because I had a camera that can cope with movement, low light, and high contrast. 

I had previously been almost regretting having a larger camera (I have a brand-new Canon S-5 with 12x optical zoom and 8 megapixels) because between my camera, my lunchbox, my textbooks, and my notebooks, my bookback is pretty big for the Tokyo rail system, but Friday night changed my mind, I have a great camera.
This might be the best photo I got from the fashion show. I got the good lighting from someone else's flash (I was too far away for my flash to work), it's not blurry, and I didn't have anyone's arms in the picture. I just wish she wasn't centered in the photo.

I like this photograph, I wish it was from someplace cooler than a fashion show, because this would've been an amazing action shot, like something from a movie.

Sometimes blurriness makes for an interesting composition, this is the same man and outfit as above, but with a different pose, lighting, and aperture setting. 

I really love her expression and the shadow behind her. You can't tell from this shot, but her skirt had wire run through the bottom hem to give it almost a floral bell shape. 

I like these two photographs, I think they display a kind of emotion from the subject. I can't quite identify it though.

I liked capturing this shot, because it changes the feeling of the other one. I didn't get his face or much background because of the person in front of me and their arm.

Her dress is pretty.

I think I've seen her outfit somewhere before.

What a face for fashion.

Following the fashion show was a presentation of traditional Ainu music and dancing. The Ainu are the indigenous people of Japan. 

The party was just getting started, after the Ainu presentation there was a drum performance and two modern Japanese bands as well as two more sakes that the lecturer talked about earlier in the night. I left early though because the club was getting very crowded and I couldn't move without getting a drink spilled on me or shoving my way around. And as a side note, I couldn't hear what anyone was saying because it was too loud.

The night was very fun, and I enjoyed it even though I left early.

No comments: