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The Adventures of Vivi and Robrob

TOKYO: Big beats, noodles, and toodles to Tokyo.

JAPAN | Tuesday, 12 May 2015 | Views [406]

Headerzlong walk home

“Never Give up!” - We found ourselves applying one of our Cupnoodles Museum mantras perhaps flippantly to a long walk home at 5:30am, as the sun rose and kissed our tired faces.

We were on our way back from Rappongi Art Night, a music and art all-nighter, starting at dusk and lasting till dawn. In it’s 5th year now it was excellent to experience the slightly chaotic but entertaining schedule of events, spread out across this vibrant Tokyo district. Interesting as much for the art pieces as it was for the attendees fashion styles, from punk to street to catwalk fashion crashing into ‘Hello Kitty’ sweaters. 

We spent a large amount of our time watching a hanging chandelier type light structure above the lake, which was quite faithfully representing a firework display in it’s depths, viewers could choose the displays with their phones apparently, but even without interactivity it was beautiful anyway, we tried to leave a few times but couldn’t, the lights, the lights…

pretty lights

On our journey around we were invited to write a sentence of remembrance for the victims of the 2011 earthquake, eager but slightly under pressure and on the spot, Rob asks a guy nearby for a little help writing his message in the Japanese alphabet. It wasn’t only Japanese the person on the opposite side of the table could speak, it was Welsh too! Counting to ten in Welsh on the other side of the planet with a Cardiff bred Japanese dude, gwych! (ace)

welsh yey

The long walk home followed a J-POP Kraftwerk-esque band who ended their set with a computer controlled crescendo of lasers, face mounted iPads, LED body suits and energetic robot snake like dance moves; the crowd went wild, we were a bit confused but also jumped up and down. A fitting end to a great night.

And so to the Cupnoodles Museum, Yokahoma, who would have known you could leave a dry food snack museum with a renewed belief you really can achieve anything you want in the world, and it’s never too late to try.

Cup Noodles

Momofuku Ando was 48 when he invented the first instant noodle as we know it, a rollercoaster life of trial and error he had lived, but it was in a small wooden shed in his backyard that he perfected his revolutionary dried noodle method, which was set to take the world by storm. He didn't stop there, and continue to invent he did, finally realising his ultimate dream as NASA added his Space Ramen noodles to their officially inventory in his final years. 

A small profound section of the museum explained through an incredibly effective, mechanical scale-model shadow animation show, how, “Rather than a lone cedar, it is better to nurture a whole forest.” In reference to the well weighted reaction to the many ‘instant’ copycat noodles that flooded the marketplace shortly after the invention, and the decision taken not to sue and exercise patent law, but to make Momofuku a governor of the new instant noodle marketplace.

And for this and many reasons, that’s why this museum was great, it was as much about the product and it’s creator, as it was about believing in yourself, and how anyone can have ideas that can be embraced and adopted, and we can use those ideas to change the world, one noodle at a time!

And we got to design our own Cup Noodle.. yey! (Youtube Link...blog embed fail..meeehhh)

ghibli OMG OMG OMG

On our way to the ghibli museum, OMG OMG OMG.

The Ghibli Museum - An out of town purpose built grass covered hobbit-like building in a lush park, designed by Director Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli and home to a complete insight into this most popular collection of Japanese animated films. (If you haven’t seen any, now would be a great time to go and have a quick look at some trailers, much as we did for extra revision before attending the museum!)

Ghibli Tickets yey

There is no fixed route through the experience to allow for exploring, and we don’t want to give it all away, but we loved the fact that it was a real show-and-tell for the traditional art of animation, something younger generations may miss if not to actually see and hear the whirling spinning reels of a mechanical projector, and the hand painted cells and sketches pinned to the walls frozen, begging to get moving. We loved that the displays and explanations were at the eye height for young curious minds, and the little cinema's window shutters closed like eyelids moments before the picture started, to avoid keeping those minds in the dark too long.

Coming up for air onto the fourth floor, to digest all we’d just seen, we found ourselves on the roof in a well manicured garden, peacefully overlooked by a giant five-meter-tall Robot Soldier, ah Ghibli, we loved it!


Inspired we left the museum, and drifted like spores in the wind to a gallery nearby, only to find a lady and gentleman tag-team who were all about the fungi, the gent was a mushroom photographer and his lady friend crocheted mushrooms from wool, a lovely duo, and a special shout out for the Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria) hat! A super surreal day.  

Mushroom people

It was our last weekend in Tokyo and it turns out some of our favourite DJ’s were playing at a festival ‘just down the road’ on the Izu Peninsular, it also turns out it was ‘Golden Week’ a three day weekend for all Japanese people which the Government charitably has bumped up to a glorious Golden Week of holidays for all. 

The draw card DJ’s of Rainbow Disco Party festival won out against the knowledge that the roads would be choc-a-block, and we are now in a hire car on the highway, it’s and Audi A3, we got a free upgrade as our car wasn’t hoovered, Viv is looking good behind the wheel “I’ve always wanted to drive an Audi!’  We’re less than ten minutes into our journey.. ‘Why is that man waving a big glowstick at us? We’re not even at the festival yet…’, konnichiwa to the Japanese police. *whatever we did, please don’t fine us, please don’t fine us!

Long badly communicated (on our behalf) story later, it turns out that an Orange line means no overtaking or changing lane, (worth noting) but onwards!!


The journey was long but sunny and beautiful as it wound around the coast, the mild traffic allowing us to take in the seaside views. The festival was great, the setting lovely, we were one of the last-in as we’d been hit by the traffic, and narrowly missed having to pretty much nail our tent onto the steep incline that was the last remaining camp spot, by squeezing in on the last bit of semi flat ground nearby.


Dancing, watching the sun go down, beats, lights and lasers, the first night was lovely, it was now morning and Kenji Takimi was on at 10:30, a few disco tracks to wake people up then the Velvet Underground’s ‘Sunday Morning’ on full, the crackling vinyl fuzz complimenting the warmth of this lovely bright and hazy Sunday Morning. A few people danced as the DJ selected his next record to the beat, under a huge black mirrored disco ball which remained, silently spinning, a reminder of the party that the night brings. 


But for now the day was sunny and the universe seemed to talk to us through hip Japanese people and their T-shirts… ‘Lost in Vacation’.. yeah it does feel a bit like that!.. “I’m lovin’ it”.. Us too!!..”Find yourself a city to live in”… I think we did!.. *Picture of cross fingers*..  yep thanks for the good vibes.. ”Andy”.. Andy, yeah he would love it… ”Diana dead”… ok, bit weird “Ipomoea purpurea: An east facing perennial, best suited to medium dry soil..”… um, ok, anyway you get the picture, it was pretty cosmic. 

It was a big Golden Week for music as after the festival we had tickets for Taylor Swift. #1 pop artist performing in a country of Kareoke, costumes and where ridiculously cute stuff is acceptable and encouraged, this was a show we couldn’t miss!!

Walking around the outside grounds of Tokyo Dome, we noticed that many teenage girls were all dressed as twinsies!! The most popular style was matching red sneakers, cute 60’s skirts, taylor swift fan t-shirts with matching red head bands. SOOOO cute and amazing that we wanted to buy some matching T-shirts, until we saw the merchandise line snaking all the way through the crowd…..hmm, pass.

So many hand made costumes inspired by TS music videos, we were nervous to ask if we could take photos looking like the standout Gaijns! Until 2 twinsie girls approach us and say ‘hello! photo with you?” our faces lit up with excitement! hai hai!! Saying bye we were then approached by another twinsie duo, then another, then another!! CHIIIIZUUUU!!


And we’re in…EEEEEE!! 55,000 screaming fans with the issued LED wristband lights flashing in sync, turning the crowd into a canvas of light, as she blasted one song after an other from the 1989 album, while striking black and white visuals on the big screen set the scene, punctuated by splashes of red as per her trademark red lipstick.

We couldn’t help but glimpse the people sitting around us, a teenage girl that started to cry and let off a high pitch squeal when TS performed her favourite song (which was most of them). A man on his own next to Rob, bouncing up and down clapping, his smartwatch proudly displaying the TS album artwork (and give him constant TS updates we suspect!). A father of a family of four, clearly more into TS than his wife and daughters, wrestling 3 devices to capture the gig in it’s entirety. It’s safe to say that the love for TS was universal!

For the finale, the one song that Viv was really waiting for, ‘Shake it off’, a song that had been giving our lives impromptu energy injections via the radio for the past year, Viv may have lost her voice but whispered “totally worth it! I love you TS!”. We were walking on air on the way out, no, like seriously there was a gale blowing people out of the door!

Windy gif 

And so this was the end of our stay in Tokyo, goodbye multi-floored old hospital house, goodbye Naka-Itabashi.. goodbye to our lovely local shop keepers… 

 Windy gif

“how long are you going for? 

“Umm 3 months?” 

“Here..” and she gave us 3 tins of hard boiled sweets for our adventures. Yey Tokyo! 

And so we board a plane to the far south, for birthday island adventures and more! Stay tuned!

In other news:

* Viv hasn’t committed any further traffic violations, but we did have to swerve an angry monkey!

* We’re working on a fruit farm!

* When unsure whether photos are allowed in small quiet art galleries, please ask Viv to refraining from yanking at large metal clanging doors labelled ‘Push’!

* Rob is preparing for a big interview in Tokyo next week, eeeee. 


Extra bonus bits and LOLz

Japan unwrapped.

When walking out of a local convenience store Rob opens the pack of chewing gum we’ve just brought, sliding the draw out carefully to reveal our goods, just as we see them descend out one by one from underneath like eager parachuters, free falling towards the ground to our dismay, but alas all our parachuters today were happily wrapped in their own overalls, the 3 second rule getting a hefty extension to the 3 minute rule. Yey and ‘hmmm’ for the slightly over wrapped goods of Japan!  

Kevin the cookie lives in his own see through bag house, he currently lives in a row of 5 neighbours, they live in a nice sturdy cardboard drawer. The neighbourhood backs onto another fairly quiet, if a little nutty neighbourhood, they’re both kept safely in a wrapper which will have the cookie species written on, and may well be considerately wrapped in another clear wrapper to keep the cookies from losing their identity. 


When faced with Tokyo’s 5 option ‘recycle-everything’ sorting bins, we’ve observed many foreigners have a breaking point where they just throw whatever material they have in their hand, be it PET bottle, plastic bottle, cup, paper straw or hamburger, into the nearest receptacle, shrug their shoulders and walk away; and it’s at this same point somewhere else in the world, a toddler is sending a triangular shaped peg hurtling across the room, after it refused to fit into it’s new circular home for the sixth time.

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