Toranomon - Tiger's Gate / 31 August 2014
Today's outing to Roppongi is to see a display of 60 variations on what looks to me like a cartoon cat; a blue blob with whiskers who can go anywhere through a magic door. I'm optimistically reminded of the 100 or so artist decorated figures I discovered in the skyscraper Marunouchi Building on a previous visit.
When we get there, the Roppongi Hills figures have gone, but there is a lot of promotional material for a Gaudi exhibition at the Mori Gallery - an outing for next week.
A snap decision sees us returning to the metro to go back one stop. The man-with-the-ramp has fun here (only once have I been assisted by a woman-with-a-ramp, it is usually a man), because we are only travelling one stop he gets to come with me. At Kamiyacho station there is also a man-with-a-ramp waiting for me; after some initial animosity, my ramp man breaks the ice, gives way and the two of them exchange bows.
There is a brand new shopping centre here, another Mori building; more glass, marble and steel and some artwork. Universe 29 is a black and silver piece in stainless steel by Zhan Wang; Untying Space, flowing rivers of black on white glass walls by Sun K Kwak, interprets the flow of people coming in and out of this building with its 30 floors of offices, apartments and a hotel.
At the six entrances to the office floors another set of site specific works by Toru Kamiya consist of acrylic sheets each painted in a graduating colour relating to gemstones that reflect the jewel colours found locally.
As yet the space is strangely devoid of shops, but awash with places to eat. There is a flower shop (I have a weakness for Japanese flower shops), and a bookshop. Many Japanese people read books on the metro - books in anonymous covers; the fashion for phone games seems to be waining.
The 52 story complex building is more like a complex of buildings. There is a beautiful open air garden on the second level, some orange coloured 'mountains' for small children to play on, and a half-level higher there is a romantic moon balcony garden.
Moon and space themes seem to be fashionable right now.
And to celebrate the opening, this new building boasts two of the cartoon blobs: Doraemon and his new business-cat relative, Toranomon (a similar shape, but white with ears; the new building's mascot uses a time machine rather than a magic door). Toranomon, also the name of the building, means Tiger's Gate and was the name of the southernmost gate of Edo Castle.
I'm less than impressed with Doraemon, having seen him in the plastic, but he's very popular in Japan.
I'm even less impressed by the brand new platform lift that requires the user to call for assistance and then takes forever to travel down a very short flight of steps. But it does look good.
Independent access requires going outside, but only a very short distance.
The 'go anywhere door' is where to hide
from life. The 'go anywhere door' is for
a peter-pan style cartoon escape, for
manga and anime, for ninja and
cosplay and even for cute little maids
without cafés; the 'go anywhere door'
is the door to the centre of your own
personal universe; somewhere safe from
the undesirable past, but also
a pause from the unappealing future.
'Go anywhere door' is the illusion
of going nowhere, but leaving its mark
on gene-culture-coevolution. One
person can alone, inhabit the world.