Hello and welcome to Guest Review Wednesday! Today we have an extra-special report by our dear friend and co-conspirator, Bruce P, who ran off to Japan without me. :-( Settle for what always promises to be a good time, in the company of a great writer! Take it away Bruce!
On a trip to Japan this Halloween I was able to attend a couple of events that might be of interest to Okazu readers. The highlight of which was an exhibit of artwork by Yamagishi Ryoko, the exceptionally talented shoujo mangaka who authored Shiroi Heya no Futari, one of the earliest Yuri manga.
But first – a visit to the Akasaka Red Theater, venue for the live performance of Grand Stage, the Takarazuka-esque CD voice drama series that Erica has been reviewing. The final show was already in progress as I arrived in Tokyo, so it was a race from the plane to the bus to the hotel to the subway to Akasaka. Sweating, stumbling (long flight), I arrived in time, if I could just find the theater. Everything was working out so well. It really was a lovely autumn evening, and the Akasaka streets, sparkling with neon and echoing with gentle laughter, had a delicate nocturnal beauty, pole dancing places glowing softly in the night.
Problem was, I had real trouble locating the venue. As it turned out I wasn’t looking low enough. Descending from the sidewalk, behind some outdoor tables with pumpkin candles, the theater entrance looked a bit like an access to a storage cellar. Grand stage indeed. But the display posters were colorful. It’s interesting that the title graphic includes both a lily and a rose, a wink at the spectrum of gender/orientation conflation possibilities.
Less than a minute after I found the theater the show let out, and that’s timing. The audience numbered half a dozen or so, mostly women in floppy hats and clunky shoes.
They all seemed pleased with the show and there was much picture taking as an earnest theater employee (left), with over-caffeinated efficiency, immediately began pulling down the posters.
It really was a nice night-before-Halloween, and I was happy to see that the nearby Akasaka Toyokawa Inari Betsuin had put up their pumpkin lanterns (or maybe not).
On Halloween itself the new Mayor of Tokyo had fun dressing up as Princess Knight.
In Shibuya a lot of other folks had fun dressing up too. Those having the most fun were shown repeatedly on the news being carted away in ambulances and police cars.
The Yamagishi Ryoko exhibit was in the Yayoi Museum near Tokyo University. The Yayoi is dedicated to exhibiting print illustrations and manga art from the Taisho and Showa eras – essentially the 20th century. I had been to this museum some years back for an exhibit of works by the illustrator Takabatake Kashou, at which I snapped up the poster below.
Happy to get reacquainted I headed out to the Museum:
Sign on chair: Closed Today. Improvising on a trip (‘blundering about Japan’) is enjoyable, and takes less work than planning, but I do see a lot of these signs.
I returned a couple of days later. The exhibit was absolutely worth the extra trip. Yamagishi-sensei was part of the talented group of female shoujo mangaka known as the Year 24 Group, which also included Ikeda Riyoko (Rose of Versailles), Hagio Moto (Heart of Thomas), and other exceptional artists. The exhibit was on display in two large rooms, with walls and center display cases in both lined with a tremendous selection of Yamagishi-sensei’s work. About a dozen people were there enjoying the art.
Here are just a few of many examples that caught my eye, imaged from a book that was essentially the exhibition catalogue. Photography was not permitted in the exhibit.
Dream (1978). 1930’s cool.
Left and Right (1969), debut manga.
Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi (1982), artwork for a record cover.
Secret Love (1986). Columbine and Camelia.
While I was busy taking notes (who knew there was a catalogue?) an older Japanese couple approached in curiosity and introduced themselves. Long-time Yamagishi fans, they had made the trip down from Sendai just for the exhibit. They were pleased, if puzzled, to find a westerner so interested in her work that he would take notes, when there was such a nice catalogue, and we had a lovely chat. They really wanted to make sure I knew that Yamagishi-sensei wasn’t just a manga artist, she was a real artist. While I believe the line to be a lot more elastic than that, there is no doubt that she is an artist in every sense of the word. Here is a link to the exhibition poster.
My only regret was that the original cover art for Shiroi Heya no Futari was not on display. There was too much art for the space, so the display items changed, and that one wasn’t up at the time. But the exhibit was absolutely worthwhile (and is running through Dec 25, so if you hurry…). Definitely the highlight of a great trip.
Well, um, that and the Perfume concert in the Nagoya Dome. If you’re partial to music with your lasers.
E here: Thank you Bruce for the report (and the copy of the catalogue. I’ve drooled over it many times already). It’s always great to hear your travel stories!