Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

David Bowie is...

in Tokyo. こんにちは! Hello, welcome to my blog. I know I have been remiss in not posting for a while but will take care of doing so now. First with a photo of the local Inari shrine. Good to see these guys again.


Because I was recently in Tokyo also. I wanted to see if I could do better than my last two trips. The one with the extreme heat and the other with the immense earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power plant blow-ups.  While I knew I would have to deal with physical pain my desire to return to a place that feels also like home never goes away. Of course having incentives like finally being able to see the David Bowie is exhibition also helped spur me to take those very long flights.

My first full day in Tokyo found me at Tennozu Isle looking at these very large posters for the exhibit. While purchasing tickets for events in Japan is very difficult for those outside of the country, the people running this made it pretty simple by having a webpage where people could purchase them online even outside of Japan. While the specific date and time tickets were cheaper, I went with the All Day ones since I did not know how I would be feeling or what could happen. Once payment was made I received an email that I would then present at a 7-11 in Japan to get my physical ticket. With no additional payment or must be done by x date. Worked very well, had no problem getting my ticket at the konbini.

My experience with exhibits in Tokyo is that they tend to be very crowded. I hoped that a couple months in and showing up near the time it opened there would be less people. Turned out my planning was good. Not only was it not packed with people but it was clear they were fans and not just people going because it was a popular thing to do.


Two sides of the display had the lightning bolt image. The third side was a hand painted image of the Heroes album cover. I'm guessing the artist okayed people signing it.


Along with the fourth multi-colored panel. These images made it a little easier to find the entrance to the building.


Once inside it was up in an elevator and into this long dark hall lit only by spot lights. The intention to make one feel like they were in a theater waiting for a concert was evident.

Because no photographs were allowed I do not have photos of the exhibit. There are many online and worth checking out. The interior was also in black with white lighting for most of it. The first room was early work, pre-Ziggy Stardust days. Writings and more that influenced Bowie, one of his first stage sets, videos and of course music. When entering each person was given a headset that was triggered when at certain points in the exhibit. Music and recorded interviews would play. Much of the exhibit was in both Japanese and English.

I had seen many of the videos and interviews before, having been a fan since Space Oddity. Being grouped in context with costumes, writings and other objects added to the experience. While the first room was dedicated to the beginning of his career, the rest of the exhibit did not necessarily follow a historical order but was set up in eras like Berlin or for his acting career. I noticed there was not a lot of personal information provided. After a bit I realized this exhibit was about David Bowie the performer.

It helped to remember his words at the beginning, where he said he could not perform on stage as himself when he started. He made up characters and performed as them and it worked. For me this bit of theme continued after the exhibit which I may explain in a later post. As for the exhibit, it was a celebration of Bowie bringing theatrics to rock and roll. It wasn't just showing Bowie but also his many contributors both in fashion and music. Innovators and more. Fashion was a big part. Very popular for attendees were the Kansai Yamamoto outfits. Amazing to see not just the stage wear but also pieces used in music videos. The most striking piece for me was the iconic Alexander McQueen's distressed Union Jack coat made at the beginning of Lee's career.

Another amazing moment for me was in the Space Oddity section where I read David's hand written lyrics as he sang the song. This was the first song of his I heard while growing up so the moment was touching and made me smile.

The exhibit was packed with memorabilia and I am sure I missed a few things. The video room showing interviews and bits from his films was full so I was unable to see that. I did see his Saturday Night Live appearance with Klaus Nomi on a tv screen which brought back memories of seeing this when it originally aired. Walking through it all was emotional for me. Especially the last room.

Four walls of video screens, one with panels that became see-through when lit from behind showcasing more costumes. Other outfits displayed in the room. No need for headphones here with speakers playing the soundtracks for various concerts as the video played below. Many people watching, some nodding their heads in time or quietly singing along. It hit peak emotions with me when they showed Bowie's last time singing Rock n Roll Suicide as Ziggy Stardust. I couldn't think of a better way to end my time spent in a place hearing music I had not been able to listen to much since his death.


One more photograph of the lit entrance as I was leaving. The guy was actually looking for people getting off the elevator. His posing is a little amusing here.


One last bit was this video display that they did allow photos of. A tape of David wishing people happy birthday on loop. Someone's copy of that video is below. The one in Tokyo had subtitles in Japanese so this video is not from the exhibit.


I so enjoyed my time at David Bowie is that I didn't want to leave just yet. And I didn't have to. Which I will write about in my next post. Along with more photographs.


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