In the Shinjuku district, there is most of the cool shopping in Japan, with bold graphics and bling everywhere. You can walk by a window of a dizzying variety of Nike shoes, complete with every color of the swoosh one can imagine. There are watches upon watches upon watches. The weirdest ice-cream cones imaginable; not really cones the way we know them, more like sweet, thin wraps stuffed with every kind of sweet cream and fruit and nuts and syrup.
Shinjuku is blinding color and motion, though not nearly as loud as other cities. It is a culture of consumers, just like ours. There are odd knock-offs of American products and Hello Kitty shit everywhere. I have to admit, I rather like the Hello Kitty stuff, as it is very comics-like. There are a lot of young Japanese artists whose styles are greatly indebted to comics and manga. It is the visual lingua-franca of their culture; much like comics, tattoos, Mad Magazine, and horror movies were for me.
As a kid, I remember having a Ratfink figure, one of those masterpieces of hot-rod culture that Big Daddy Roth gave us. I was seven or eight and this was my favorite thing in the world. I remember having to fight this oafish asshole who tried to take it from me on the playground. Eddie Josephi tried to grab it from me. The prick. Needless to say, I left the playground with my Ratfink and Eddie ran home like a bitch with a bloody nose.
Shinjuku made me think of childhood a lot. This part of town is very rooted in youth culture and you can find comics and books everywhere here and in the Chiyoda district, I found three volumes of gorgeous Japanese birds and paid a fortune for it and lugged the heavy bastards back to Chicago. But what a score! Whoever illustrated this book really loved birds. As a kid, I drew birds incessantly. Our yard was full of sparrows and finches and cardinals, red-wing blackbirds, and mourning doves. The birds of Japan are exotic to me. I don’t know a lot about them, and when I look in these books, it is like being there. The parks are full of ravens and cranes and every kind of songbird. In Ueno Park you can watch ravens gobble down cicadas in the late summer, and see cranes standing still as glass in the lagoon. I think Japanese parks are quiet so one can hear the birds and the water. In what little public space there is in Tokyo, nature is observed and revered.
Small ghost singing
In a Tokyo alley
Broken mirror songs.