Tokyo Design Fiesta is one of the bigger art gatherings in Tokyo. Held twice a year, this event is a place to go and see the good, the bad and the downright weird of Japanese art, craft and fashion. Sure, it bills itself as an international event, but I would guess over 90% of those exhibiting are Japanese.
The Tokyo Design Fiesta was held at the ‘Tokyo Big Sight‘ exhibition at Odaiba, a artifical island built on reclaimed land. We thought we would head out early and have a walk around Odaiba before going to the Design Fiesta. This was a bit of a mistake – most of the action on Odaiba takes place in the shopping centres. And the shopping centres don’t open before 10 or even 11 o’clock. We were left walking around a slightly surreal empty place, with large buildings, little landscaping and little noise – a very strange occurance in Tokyo.
One place that was open was the cutesy ‘Partire Tokyo Wedding Village’. This odd place is a kind-of recreation of a European village, complete with little stores and a strange quasi Italian/Spanish mission style chapel. You can find all your wedding needs here – dresses, flowers, catering and cake. Including cakes for the headless bride it seems.
So after taking in the charms of a relatively empty space, we headed over to Big Sight and lined up to get in to the Design Fiesta. We bought tickets at the door, though you can buy them in advance if you like.
Once inside, we spent a few hours wandering around, taking in a representation of craft and art in Japan today. Most of the stalls, especially in the art area, were small, with a single artist selling postcards and maybe one or two works, which might even just be a drawing or two, or perhaps a slightly surreal sculpture.
We had lunch in the ‘food court’ which had a good selection of different types of food at fairly reasonable prices. It was then time to take in the ‘fashion’ section of the Fiesta, which was dominated by jewelry and hair ornaments, though there were some outfits around as well. Most of it fell into one or another style of Lolita, though there was a fair bit of urban/hipster-ish stuff as well. And of course, you can’t have a fashion gathering without fashion shows. These were student works, and the make-up and styling was often more interesting than the clothes.
One of the best parts of the whole Tokyo Design Fiesta experience was the people watching – there were relatively few girls dressed in Lolita get-up, but there were quite a lot of people rocking a contemporary take on the kimono – I even saw a full-blown Goth-in-kimono. While I didn’t get a photo of that look, we did catch a few interesting kimono outfits. (If you are interested in contemporary Kimono wear, I recommend you find a copy of The New Kimono: From Vintage Style to Everyday Chic by Nanao Magazine, one of the few resources about it in English. Great book.)
We probably could have stayed until closing, however Willem was not feeling well and we made the call to go home. Of course as soon as we were on the driverless train heading back to central Tokyo Willem perked up again. If I was in Tokyo when another Design Fiesta was on I would definitely go. We didn’t actually purchase much beyond postcards and a birthday gift for someone back in Australia, but it was a fantastic day out with more than enough to look at and enjoy. And that’s just the other people there … Tokyo Design Fiesta Vol. 34 is again at Tokyo Big Sight 12 & 13 November 2011. Advance tickets cost 800 yen for a day ticket or 1500yen for both days; buy at the door and it will cost 1000yen for a day ticket or 1800yen for both days. If you are interested in exhibiting (and go on, why not?) check out the application process website (in English).