DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Christmas in Tokyo’17

Previously:  DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Hong Kong’16

Once again, another long overdue post. I visited Japan in December 2017 when I had my university entrance exam. It was the christmas period and Tokyo was full of beautiful illumination. I won’t talk about the illumination much below but some great places for that were Tokyo Midtown and the area around Tokyo Station. Really classy places. You won’t get that level of illumination in Singapore, Japan really prides itself in its lighting design.

At that time I was really into Lisa Ono and Bossa Nova and now that I look back it might be cheesy but oh well. I shot and edited all these back in December 2017 but I missed the time to upload during christmas and felt it was a bit off. But now I finally decided to make a post on it. I am living in Japan now so I will probably have even cooler places to show in the future. This list of 6 places include some places you will not find in other guides that I really like such as “CHOCOLATIER PALET’DOR”. As mentioned before, it would not just be places of design interests, but anywhere I enjoy. I merely named it “DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE” because it is a list made by a designer, me in this case. 

DISCLAIMER☞All these photos are shot and edited in 2017 so the state of the shops reflect that time.

 

 

 

 

 

#1 

CHOCOLATIER PALET D’OR ショコラティエ パレ ド オール
★★★★★
Adress 〒100-6501 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Marunouchi,
1 Chome−5−1 新丸の内ビルディング

Access  5 minutes walk from Tokyo Station
 

Hours
Mon-Sun: 11:00~21:00

Photos courtesy of CHOCOLATIER PALET D’OR’s
instagram and relevant parties.

I’m used to seeing big global chocolate brands like Godiva or even Japanese ones like Royce. However, ever since I watched a japanese drama on chocolatiers, I have developed an appreciation and curiosity for chocolatiers. I found a japanese chocolatier in –not a food guide book– but a brand identity compilation book. It was chosen as an example of brilliant brand design and I could not agree more. Typographically state-of-the-art. From the chocolates to the store and packaging, this is the kind of experience I was hoping to find in Japan.

I went to the store near Tokyo Station, in the Marunouchi building, overall a beautiful area. The store had seats with certain dine-in menu, the ice-cream looks great but what was interesting (in 2017) was their transparent cocoa. It was fascinating. Their stuff is actually pretty expensive, but I think they make very decent souvenirs for slightly more important people. Especially since it is not a global brand and can only be obtained there.

 

 

#2

Creamia
★★★☆☆


Website  id=10https://www.nissei-com.co.jp/cremia/en/
Access  Various locations

Hugely recommended at that time, but these days I find it everywhere. True to what everyone says, its a really great soft serve. I even watched a video that explained that the people behind it used science and years of research to develop the perfect taste, texture and even the perfect cone that complements it.

 

#3

La Mère Poulard ラ・メール・プラール
★★★★☆

Adress 3 Chome-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda City,
Tokyo 100-0005
Website  http://www.la-mere-poulard.jp/
Access 2 minute walk from Tokyo Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 11:30~22:00

I saw a facebook video about fluffy omelettes and after further probing, found it to be La Mère Poulard. It originated as a french inn in 1888, with their giant omelettes cooked in a wooden hearth being hugely popular. It was also on an island which was the reference for their original logo. As of now, it seems that this restaurant can only be found in Japan besides its home country of France, which makes it worth a visit if you are in Japan. The brand identity design is pretty impressive here as well, they keep the consistent red and the interiors make you feel like you are transported to that french island where this place was first opened on. I had the omelette which is really interesting texture-wise but it was not spectacular personally, but I did notice the japanese customers finish it well, perhaps its more fitting for the Japanese tastebuds.

 
 

#4

Ghibli Museum 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館
★★★★★


Adress 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka
Tokyo 181-0013
Website  http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/
Access  Take the cat bus from the JR Mitaka Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 10:00~18:00; closed on tuesdays;

“Let’s get lost together” is the museum’s slogan. Photography inside is forbidden so I cannot show much but this is a magical place. There are delicately crafted exhibits in every corner, many layered or have moving mechanisms. This means even the manhole are designed and there are places you have to crouch to go through. It really feels like you are in a ghibli movie.

The exhibition on that time was about food in their movies and they remade several kitchens into sets that we can explore. It also documents the tedious behind-the-scenes process in creating an animated film. In line with the theme of food, they had a short film called “Mr Dough and the Egg Princess” screened in a delightful mini theatre. From the art deco lamps outside the theatre to the illustrations on the ceiling of the theatre, its a dream come through–I mean having your own themed theatre showing tailor made films and perhaps even have deliberately crafted trailers before the film is super cool. The short film is also a silent film such that tourists from any country can understand it without having a hundred different subtitles. My entire family loved it. The short film they make are specifically made for the museum and they renew them once in a while, along with new exhibitions, giving the museum alot of revisit value.

This is a must-go, however tickets are hard to come by. Tickets for the month go on sale on like the 10th of the month but they sell out real fast. It was the case for me and I had to ask a friend residing japan to help me get it. Apparently they have separate quotas for buying in Japan and from overseas. You should google it.

#5

niko and … ニコアンド
★★★★☆

Adress 6 Chome-12-20 Jingumae, Shibuya City,
Tokyo 150-0001
Website  http://www.nikoand.jp/
Access 4 minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 10:00~23:00

This is actually a retail franchise but I will explain why I love it so much. I really appreciate brands that has a strong concept and art direction that they use throughout consistently. They can be as diverse as having food, furniture or even clothes in the same brand. A good example is IKEA and MUJI whom also have a strong typographical system throughout their brand.

Ok so in a nutshell, niko and … is most well-known for its clothes but they also sell potted plants, furniture, daily necessities and even have a coppe café in some of their stores. The idea is that you can attach any other brand name behind [niko and …], so they manufacture original items, carry certain brands and also collaborates with certain brands. However all of these things are designed or selected in line with niko and …’s strong and unique visual language. The soul of the brand can actually be found in their special niko and … dictionary which is a special edition publication designed by award-winning graphic designer Naomi Hirabayashi who also did the brand’s identity design. This dictionary explains every tiny preference and inclinations that guides the brand. An example is that dictionary states their liking in old luggages full of stickers and scratches or their emphasis on the combination of metal and wood. All of these principals and values culminate to guide the diverse brand to have a hard-to-define consistent colour.

The clothes are also decently priced. Their painter denim sells quite well and I have it. I can go on and on about their brilliant advertisements, but perhaps I shall leave that for another time.

 
 

 

 

 
I passed the entrance exams!
 

 
 

 

Next stop ☞ Taiwan ’18

The World of Wong Kar Wai・映画監督ウォン・カーウァイの世界

 
(ABOVE) A video summarising the charms of Wong Kar Wai, by youtube channel ‘Pitching Room’
(上)監督ウォン・カーウァイの映画の魅力を描写する動画

When I started my first ever internship, my mentor taught me 2 directors whose movies I must watch. One of which was Hong Kong director, Wong Kar Wai, a name synonymous with Asian cinema. His movies are not always crowd favourites, many find it boring, with overly long b-rolls and overly poetic lines. I’ve even heard of a guy who exited the cinema half-way for the first time in his life, while watching Wong’s film. Truly, if you go into the cinema expecting to be excited at the back of your seat, you might be disappointed. His films are more suitable for when you are feeling sentimental, when you are ready to lose yourself in the music.

私は両親に「ウォン・カーウァイ」という監督について感想を聞いたところ、あまり良い評価は得られませんでした。うちの親父の話によると、彼の映画を見た時生まれて初めて映画途中で映画館を出たそうです。

多くの皆はそう思うのはよく分かります。何も説明のない風景のシーンが長いし、詩のようなセリフも多いです。確かにつまらなくてストーリーが進められないと感じします。

Despite the criticisms, he has reached legend status. He is capable of creating an atmosphere in his film that is very Hong Kong and very hard to find anywhere else in the world. The chaotic neon lights. The lonely, slightly dirty and rusty city vibe. The nostalgia of downtown Hong Kong. You cannot categorise these feelings easily, you have to see the films for yourself. I would like to introduce 3 of his movies and an interesting composition or camera technique applied in each.

一方、ウォン監督の映画奇妙な魅力があると いう意見もあります。 夜の街並みのネオン・ライツの中で、少し汚くて錆びている雰囲気しんとが現れ、如何にも香港の下町らしいシーンが良くあります。観客に一種のノスタルジーを与えます。

彼の三つの映画を紹介したいと思います。

 

 
 
 
 
 

(TOP) Iconic scenes from ‘In the Mood for love’, especially those that are well framed
(上) 映画「花様年華」の中の代表的なシーン、特に窓やドアみたいな枠が入られているシーン

★★★★★

The first film has to be Wong’s signature work–‘In the Mood for love(2001)’ It went on to be chosen 2nd place in BBC’s Top 100 best films of the 21st Century. The movie is set in 1960s Hong Kong–a time where men had gelled hair, worn suits and women adorned the cheongsam, dressing up even for short trips to the market. It makes me imagine how my own grandfather looked when he was young, especially since he alway dressed neatly with gelled hair even at an old age. It’s the many little things that give the film its refined vibe, be it suited Tony Leung, walking out of the shadows with a newspaper tucked under his armpit or the cigar smoke filling the air slowly.

A notable film technique Wong used in much of this film is a「frame within a frame」. Many scenes have their main action framed within another frame, such as a door or a window, within the screen itself. This reflects Wong’s obsession with the composition in every frame.

まず、ウォン監督の第一の代表作は「花様年華(2001)」です。

「BBC 21世紀映画ベスト100リスト」の中に、第2位で獲得されていた作品です。1960年代の香港の背景として、男性はスーツばかりを着て、女性はチイパオばかりを着ていた時代でした。脇下で新聞を挟んで影から歩き出すトニー・レオンの姿が格好いいと思われたからです。

映画の画面にだいたい 窓やドアみたいな枠が入られていました。これらのことからウォン監督は構図に関する自分なりのこだわりがあるのをよくわかります。

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
(ABOVE) Iconic Scene from movie ‘In the Mood for love’ that I mentioned in the post, men that wear suits and women who wear cheongsam
(上)映画「花様年華」の中に1960年代香港男のスーツ姿や女のチイパ姿を反映するシーン

 

 
 
 
 
 

(1) Erratic and Sketchy scenes that use the [step printing] method
「Step Printing」というカメラ手法通して突飛な速さで動いているシーン
(2) The iconic pineapple scene
代表的な水槽の隣にパイナップルを食べているシーン
(3) Other Iconic scenes
ほかの代表的なシーン

★★★★★

If ‘In the mood for love’ is composed, slow-paced and refined, then the following movie I am going to describe is probably the opposite–it is also one of Wong’s most iconic film, ‘Chung King Express (1994)’. A young actor at that time, Takeshi Kaneshiro took on the role of a policeman suffering from a breakup heartbreak. For a month after breaking up his girlfriend, he collected his ex’s favorite canned pineapple everyday, specifically ones that expire at the end of the month. He then ate all of it at one go, as if letting all of his feelings go. The scene of him musing and feasting on the pineapple beside the fish tank in his lonely apartment is especially sentimental.

Many movies use slow motion or fast motion to dramatize moments, but Wong decided to do both at the same time. He used a camera technique known as 「Step Printing」, he films action scenes in a slow frame rate and then replays it in a faster speed to create an erratic atmosphere that is sketchy with a lot of motion blurs.

第二、「恋する惑星(1994)」という作品も有名です 。

当時若手俳優の武金城さんは失恋したばかりの警察官を演じていました。別れてからの一ヶ月間に、この警察官は元彼女の好きなパイナップル缶詰を毎日一つずつ集めました。そして、最後の日に一気に食べてしまいました。まるで自分の気持ちを切るような感じでしました。彼が水槽の隣にパイナップルを食べている姿は特に印象的でした。

また、ウォン監督はこの映画の中で「Step Printing」というカメラ手法を使いました 。例えば、走っているような速いシーンをスローモーションで再生しました。それなので「荒れ放題」みたいな雰囲気がよく現れました 。

 
 

 
(ABOVE) A song from the Movie OST and certain clips from the movie, ChungKing Express
(上)映画の中の音楽と幾つかのシーンで編集された短い動画

 
 

“毎日大勢とすれ違う。その誰かともしかして親友にだから僕はすれ違いを避けないケガするときもあるけど楽しければいい。”
—金城 武, 天使の涙(1995)
“We rub shoulders with many people everyday. Some may become your close friend, or even your confidant. That’s why I’ll never avoid such possibilities, sometimes it hurts. Not to worry–as long as you’re happy.”
– Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fallen Angels(1995)
“每天,你都会和许多人擦肩而过,他们可能会成为你的朋友或是知己。所以我从来没有放弃和任何人摩擦的机会。有时候搞得自己头破血流,管他呢!开心就行了”
–金城武,堕落天使(1995)
 

 
 
 
 
 

 

(TOP) Iconic scenes from the movie Fallen Angels, especially ones that show the visual effect from wide lens closeup, that bends and warps the image from the movie.
(上) ワイドレンズでクローズアップしたから、スクリーンを曲がれて、画面上の距離を拡大するシーン

★★★★★

Lastly, ‘Fallen Angels(1995)‘, is the least known of the 3, but by far my favourite Wong Kar Wai Film. It starts as a story about an assassin and his agent but it’s ultimately about fate and coincidence–rubbing shoulders with people who walk in and out of your life.

When filming a landscape, cinematographers would usually use wide lens, as it captures a large area. However, they would not use it for closeups as it tends to warp nearby objects, your face would be distorted to look like a banana in front of it. In this film Wong use this 「Wide lens close-up」to achieve a look that makes 2 people sitting close together by a table to look visually distant from each other on the screen, bending the screen image in an exaggerated manner.

最後に「天使の涙(1995)」という映画も特別です。

殺し屋やエージェントなどの役目について映画です。

この映画の中で、ウォン監督は普通のクローズアップレンズの代わりにワイドレンズを使って、クローズアップを撮影しました。そうすると、役者たちの顔はバナナのように曲がれます。この手法を通して、 スケールを拡大することができます。そうすると、実際に近く座っている役者たちはスクリーンに長い距離があるように見えます。

 

 
 
 
 

 
(ABOVE) SPOILER ALERT! The ending from the movie Fallen Angels
(上)ネタバレ!映画「天使の涙」の終わり

There is so much more I can say about Wong Kar Wai, perhaps for another time. He is an irreplaceable figure and marked an era in Hong Kong film history.

ウォン監督は いつも斬新的なテクニックで香港ならでの雰囲気をしみじみと表現します。彼がつい香港映画の一時代を築きました。

 
 

 
 


DISCLAIMER☞The writing and content have seem odd during the attempt to draw a parallel between my limited Japanese ability and English expressions. This is for my practice, let me know areas of improvements thanks. Special thanks to my Japanese teacher, Chris.

DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Hong Kong’16

DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞
Hong Kong’16

Previously:  DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Taiwan’16

Back in 2016 July, I visited Hong Kong and although long overdue I have been wanting to post about it. When I think of Hong Kong, I think of Wong Kar Wai. It is a city with a unique soul. I listed a few places of my personal interest, as mentioned before, it would not just be places of design interests, but anywhere I enjoy. I merely named it “DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE” because it is a list made by a designer, me in this case. 

DISCLAIMER☞All these photos are shot and edited in 2016 so the state of the shops reflect that time.

 

 

 

 

#1 Morning Hawks

China Cafe 中國冰室
★★★★★

Adress Hong Kong, Mong Kok, Canton Rd, 1077A舖
Access  2 minutes walk from Mong Kok Station exit A2
Price  I can’t remember but pretty sure that it’s really cheap

Hours
Mon-Sun: 6:00~19:00

I tried hard to find a place with the Wong Kar Wai vibes. The very unfortunate thing is that the very western restaurant where “In the Mood for love” was filmed, had closed down a year prior to me coming to Hong Kong. Rather than actual locations I have only managed to find retro places reminiscent of Wong’s movies. One such place was “China Cafe”, established in 1963. It has terrazzo tiling on the walls and floors and they serve ovaltine but no milo. LOL. Absolutely no regrets going there as the feeling was definitely there. It makes the mostly drab trip sort-of worth it. I also learnt that eating macoroni for breakfast is a thing in Hong Kong.

The photos had the vibe of the painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper and just nice, Wong Kar Wai once said that he compose his scenes as though they are like the paintings of Edward Hopper.

 

 

 

 
 

#2 Exotic
and Happy

Happy Lemon 快樂檸檬
★★★★★

Adress 65 Argyle St, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
Website  www.happy-lemon.com/tw/global/address.php?id=10
Access  1 Minute walk from Mong Kok Station Exit B2
Price Same as most bubble tea

Hours
Mon-Sun: 11:00~23:00

The highlight of my trip. Even though it is just a drink franchise, I have long ties with it. Back in my secondary school days, Singapore used to have Happy Lemon and it truly gave me happiness. That was the time when Taiwan milk tea was starting to get popular but they offered a totally exotic range of beverages–Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese, Milk Tea with Cream Puff(蛋糕奶茶), Matcha Latte with Coffee Jelly, Lemon Yogurt with Aloe. Needless to say, they were amazing, but they were too ahead of their time and their prices were considered too high then, leading to its eventual closure in Singapore.

They had one of the most brilliant brand identity deisgn as well. I tried so hard to find the studio and creative director who designed the brand and years later I eventually found that it to be Lawrence Choy, a creative director who heads a studio in Hong Kong. It actually casted some doubt onto my appreciation for design, I’m a big believer that design should be functional and support the business, so having Happy Lemon close down in Singapore bothered me. However today I realised that there are many other aspects to make a business work as well and their timing in Singapore was not good, but their branding is still effective. Today they have over 800 stores in many countries.

Ok, back to the main topic, I found Happy Lemon in Hong Kong and I bought 2 large cups straight away;since it is a rare occasion. Of course, I tried menu items that I’ve never tried before. “Salted Cheese Osmanthus Lychee Green Tea” (right) and “Milk Tea Smoothie with Oreo and Creme” (left). It tasted as interesting as the names sound.


 

#3 Pink Dolphins

Tai O Fishing Village 大澳
★★☆☆☆

Website  www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/great-outdoors/…/tai-o-stilt-houses.jsp
Access 2 and a half hour bus ride from the city

 

Tai O is a fishing village a bus ride away from the city. You see a different Hong Kong but frankly I was not impressed. I saw dolphins and ate decent fish cakes. I tried to look for hidden gems in the backstreets but I could not find anything particularly interesting. Unfortunately.

 


 
 

#4 Homegrown design & zines

PMQ 元創方
★★★☆☆

Adress 35 Aberdeen Street
Website  http://www.pmq.org.hk/
Access  10 minute walk from Sheung Wan Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 07:00~23:00

I actually had a hard time finding design savvy places as opposed to say–Taiwan. However I did manage to find one cool place in Central called PMQ. It is like one hotspot where many design brands, indie bookshops and other craftsmen gather. The bookshops were particularly unique as they carried locally-published books. I got myself 2, the first is a play on Hong Kong film classics and the second the magazine “100, an icon in chinese typography. The title of this issue of “100” is pretty controversial, it says “We are yellow skin, black hair but we are not chinese(mainland)”

 

 

 

 

 
I went to victoria peak as well, when I got up I realised you need an extra fee for the grand view.
 

I am a cheapskate so I just got a cheap shot from the sides.


 
 

 

Next stop ☞ Christmas in Tokyo ’17