It’s one of the most important festivals of Tokyo. The Kanda Matsuri is held in odd years in mid-May, alternating with the Sanno Matsuri. The Kanda festival is composed of a series of events during the entire week. But the heart of the festival focuses on the weekend with a long procession where priests riding, miniature shrines and musicians parade through the city. It’s an event in honor of Kanda Myojin Shrine, the oldest of Tokyo, built when the city was still a fishing village. The temple contains three deities: Daikokuten, the god of good harvest and marriage; Ebisu, the god of fishermen and businessmen; Taira Masakado, a rebel warrior of the tenth century that has been revered and deified. Each edition of the festival attracts over a million viewers.
They are small pieces of beauty: a photograph that is Chinami Sakamoto from his Instagram profile shows the delicacy and colors of Japanese dishes, prepared with creativity. Vegetables that become corollas of flowers, essential and polychromatic compositions, combinations of geometry and simplicity that are typical of Japanese cuisine. The dilemma facing these dishes, is only one: to convince to eat them after they admired, enchanted for hours
The house of Dior has a long history with Japan. In the early ’50s Christian Dior designed a series of looks in fabrics from Kyoto’s famous Tatsumura workshop. Around the same time, the Tokyo department store Daimaru began selling his haute couture. Later, Dior was commissioned to design three dresses for the civil portion of Princess Michiko’s wedding ceremony. But the designer’s fascination with the country began earlier than that. In his autobiography, he recalled his childhood obsession with the Japanese screens in his Granville home, likening them to his “Sistine Chapel.”
The country looms large in the imagination of today’s Dior creative director Raf Simons, as well. The Japanese were the first customers for his signature menswear line in the ’90s, and he came to Tokyo as often as twice a year. “It’s a sublime city to be in,” he said. “From a fashion point of view, they take so much liberty to express themselves.”
2 days ago, the house staged its first-ever show for Pre-Fall before a crowd of 1,400 that included Audrey Tautou and Hailee Steinfeld. The location was Tokyo’s Kokugikan, one of the country’s pre-eminent sumo wrestling arenas. Last June, Simons presented Dior’s Resort offering in New York—Brooklyn, to be precise. The two addresses are a road map to the brand’s expansion plans. “Why Tokyo? We think Japan is a key country for luxury and fashion,” said Sidney Toledano, Dior CEO. “We just renewed our store in Omotesando, and we have many flagship stores here.” The snaking line of young people who queued up to get into the after-party offered a glimpse of the city’s enthusiasm for the brand.
But this was not a “Japanese” show. There were no kimonos, no obis. Simons already did his “continent collection” for Fall ’13 Haute Couture. Here, with fake snow falling from the rafters and Blade Runner‘s Harrison Ford and Sean Young talking replicants on the soundtrack, the designer set about expanding the Dior vocabulary. Specifically, he went beyond the special-occasion clothes—the cocktail dresses, the red-carpet gowns—the house has been synonymous with. “I tried to imagine a woman who was very much into the language of Dior,” Simons said, “but she also has her garden, and she has her boyfriend with a motorcycle in the city, or she’s with her kids by the sea, or out with her dogs.” There were waxed-cotton storm coats; knit vests worn with sturdy, wide-legged trousers; mid-calf shift dresses just shy of sensible; and, in a small nod toward Japanese youth culture, short plaid dresses worn with flat boots. If all that sounds slightly unglamorous, it wasn’t for a second.
The other side of the story was told by the second-skin sequin turtlenecks that Simons layered with most of the looks, giving the show a sensual, futuristic edge. Sure to be the season’s hands-down must-haves (high street will try to knock off these babies in no time), they peeked out from the neckline of Bar coats and sleeveless Bar dresses, showed up with long fur vests with a 1960s zing, and eventually inspired the show’s best pieces: Fair Isle sweaters and sweaterdresses rendered entirely in paillettes. Platform boots, fistfuls of rings, and Princess Leia braids finished off the look.
Once the photographers in the camera pit got their shot, the models zigzagged around the Kokugikan’s enormous square dohyo. The Shibuya scramble came to mind. Simons isn’t alone in his new interest in utility—”clothes for real life” has become fashion’s meme of the moment—but he did a bang-up job of it.
located near the omiya station in saitama, the ‘S-house’ by japanese practice yuusuke karasawa architects represents the simultaneous diversity and order that is ever present in our cyber lives. a central datum of vertical circulation splits opposing 50 m2 platforms that intertwine in the center. what seems like a simple stacking of planes reveals itself to be a rather complex network of diagonal surfaces terminating into one another resulting in an intricate path of circulation from the basement level to the rooftop deck. offset voids in the floor plates bring yet another layer of complexity to the home allowing access to additional functions.
each floor above ground is clad in glass panes to strengthen the structural concept of the home and allows for plenty of natural light and views. private functions are thus located below grade in fully enclosed volumes that serve as the ground-level floor at the entrance.
Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929. She studied Nihonga painting, a rigorous formal style developed during the Meiji period (1868–1912) to deflect the wholesale influence of Western art through the revitalization of the traditions of Japanese painting and their synthesis with aspects of Western art. Attracted by the experimental promise of the postwar international art scene, Kusama moved to New York City in 1958.
As a young struggling artist in New York, Kusama produced her first astonishing Net paintings in 1959— vast canvases measuring up to 33 feet in width, entirely covered in rhythmic undulations of small, thickly painted loops. The inherent philosophical paradox of these paintings—that “infinity” could be quantified and constrained within the arbitrary structure of a readymade canvas—combined with the more subjective and obsessional implications of their process, distinguish these works from Minimalist abstraction, which would dominate the New York art scene several years later. The mesmerizing, transcendent space of the Nets was further reinforced by Kusama’s own insistent psychosomatic associations to her paintings. She went on to develop other striking bodies of work, including the phallic soft-sculptures Accumulation, Sex Obsession, and Compulsion Furniture, which she later incorporated into full-scale sensorial environments. From 1967 she staged provocative happenings in various locations, from the New York Stock Exchange to Central Park to the Museum of Modern Art. Painting the participants’ bodies with polka dots or dressing them in her custom-made fashion designs, she created risqué situational performances that merged her inner artistic world with external realities.
In the early 1970s Kusama returned to Japan, where she began writing shockingly visceral and surrealistic novels, short stories, and poetry, including The Hustler’s Grotto of Christopher Street (1983) and Violet Obsession (1998). Later, in her art, she began to revisit earlier themes, including theInfinity Net paintings and Accumulation sculptures. In recent years she has continued to invent ingenious embodiments of infinity in dizzying walk-in mirror rooms and freestanding sculptures, such as Passing Winter — hand-beveled mirrored cubes that yield an abyss of endlessly repeating self-portraits to their viewers.
Following the success of her project for the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1993—a dazzling mirror room filled with pumpkin sculptures, like an artful pumpkin patch over which she presided in magician’s garb—Kusama went on to produce a huge, vivid yellow pumpkin covered with an optical pattern of black spots as an outdoor sculpture. The pumpkin, like the infinity net, became a kind of alter ego for her. She has since completed major outdoor sculptural commissions, mostly in the form of brightly hued, monstrous plants and flowers, for public and private institutions including the Fukuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Fukuoka, Japan; Benesse Art Site Naoshima, Japan; Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Matsumoto, Japan; Eurolille, Lille, France; and Beverly Hills City Council, Beverly Hills, California.
Kusama’s work is in the collections of leading museums throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate Modern, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
Major exhibitions of her work include Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Kitakyushu, Japan, 1987; Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1989; “Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958–1969”, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1998 (traveled to the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1998–99); Le Consortium, Dijon, 2000 (traveled to Maison de la Culture du Japon, Paris; Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense, Denmark; Les Abattoirs, Toulouse; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; and Artsonje Center, Seoul, 2001–03); KUSAMATRIX, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2004 (traveled to Art Park Museum of Contemporary Art, Sapporo Art Park, Hokkaido); Eternity’s Modernity, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2004 (traveled to the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and other venues in Japan, 2004–05); and “The Mirrored Years,” Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2008 (traveling to Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand, 2009).