CITY SLICKER

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The Independent Culture
Most ubiquitous item of clothing: Young Tokyo women strive for naughtiness, caught between Lolita and a hung-over Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The colder the weather, the more thigh is exposed. Micro-miniskirts are worn with either s tockings to above the knee, or with black boots. Hair is bobbed back, and cigarettes dangle insolently from bright-red lips. Men are expected to care more about the economy than their looks, but boilersuits, builders' jackets, and safety helmets are de r igueurfor normally pin-striped Japanese politicians on inspection tours of earthquake damage in and around Kobe.

Hottest ticket in town: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, followed by Carmen Jones, with an all-black cast. Tamasaburo Bando, an onnagata (female impersonator), is also packing the house in a centennial season of the Shochiku cinema and theatre company. Tickets for the coming Rolling Stones concerts at the Tokyo Dome quickly sold out. And still out-performing its entertainment rivals is Tokyo Disneyland, an hour from the city centre.

Most politically incorrect ticket: The latest (or any) Godzilla film. With endless footage of real-life carnage from Kobe on Japanese television every night, why pay money to watch a model dinosaur trample Tokyo underfoot?

Publication of note: The monthly Tokyo Journal has listings and reviews of all that is happening in the city, from the latest Turkish restaurant to avant-garde dance. Long feature articles pillory the self-important, or delve into the corrupt and scandalous.

Best-selling book: Amazingly, a hardback in Japanese by a former Dutch newspaper correspondent, Karel van Wolferen, called False Realities in a Politicized Society. The book, he says, "addresses the question of whether it is possible to realise Japan's democratic potential".

The meeting place: Tokyo probably has more bars, restaurants and cafes than any other city, and fashionable haunts are increasingly to be found in outlying suburbs. Novices, however, should stick to the centre. Teenagers and college students mill around a statue of a faithful dog, Hachiko, before long pub crawls in Shibuya. More conventional assignations are next to the famous window displays of the snooty Wako department store in the Ginza. The "in" place at the moment is the Yebisu Garden Palace, a prestige redevelopment of the old Yebisu brewery that includes museums, cinemas, an up-market Mitsukoshii department store, office and apartment blocks.

Hottest night-club: The new Velfarre, in the Roppongi all-night neon-lowlife zone, cost £254m to build, has five storeys and a "bodysonic dance floor." Herds of Japanese office women, waving fake ostrich feather fans, cavort in skin-tight dresses on an elevated stage while men in suits gaze on in lust.

The eating place: The choice is limitless, except for raw fish - "sushi" or "sashimi" - where the best restaurants are located next to Tokyo's fish market in Tsukiji. If you set off before dawn, you can combine a visit to the fish auction with a breakfast of raw pink tuna belly.

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