City full of light

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tokyo, by day or by night, is a city full of light: neon, plastic, bright and colourful. During a stay in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Hiroshima, the visual senses are charged with explosions of colour and light and plastic. Cartoon characters and manga abound in Japan, advertising even the most serious of businesses. Household appliances, toys and models all have faces - humanised into smiling creatures.

Plastic, tacky, amazing figurines and toys sell all over Japan. These items have no discernable use except to please the visual senses. Japan, as a nation, works hard and plays hard. Rows upon rows of consumer products abound. In the 'entertainment districts', the streets are filled with rainbows of neon, moving lights and noise. Pachinko and slot machines are riotous halls of flashing lights and loud music and sirens.

The effect is overwhelming and leaves you thinking that Japan has a two-sided design tradition - that of elegant, simple design and of excessive, camp, tacky, chaotic colours and lights.

The photos below were taken in the three cities I stayed in, but inspired by my first weekend in Tokyo in particular in Kabukicho (the red-light district) and Harajuku (the youth shopping district). Click on any photo to expand.

Fish on a slot machineAdvertisement in subway stationManga-style billboardDwarf gnomesPlastic model of strawberry ice-cream crepeLife-sized figure outside casino
BucketsNeon spiralClover-holding pigsHello KittyNeon landscapeDisney princesses
KISSPenguinPlastic poniesSpongebobPink blobBaby dolls
Pachinko slot machineNeonFlashing light onFlashing light offPlastic ducksFemale figurines
FishieCasino buttonsFlashPink pigAction figureJapanese dolls
Shinkansen train water bottleMale figurinesLeopard and the missusCharacter toy pianoWaving luck kittyMask
Plastic model of strawberry flanPink birdiePlastic model of milkshakeManga figureChicken-shaped binNeon crosses


orange anubis said...

wow, this is a treasure trove of colour and plastic! i think i see a relative of mine, three across and three down.

BostonPobble said...

I'm on sensory overload just reading the post. I can only imagine what seeing it in reality must have been like!

Indie Girl said...

All these things.. I want them for my kitschy little bedroom.

Goggle said...

Six across and six down, I have one of those for my kitschy little bedroom (not a mask but a stuffed animal of the same character)!