Rabu, 02 Desember 2009

Before night falls in Roppongi


Mostly known for its eminent nightlife, Roppongi in Tokyo’s Minato district also bursts with life during the day.
After just a few walks in its parks, a handful of shopping bags and a couple of great museums, the vicinity proves equally fascinating even before the late night drinks and club hopping kick-in.
If you arrive in the city on a late afternoon, there’s no better choice to start the day than getting into
Roppongi Hills’ Tokyo City View. A 360-degree panorama from a 250-meter high observation deck
in Mori Tower is breathtaking, especially at dusk when the capital sparkles. Between Mount Fuji and
other skyscrapers, visitor will be rewarded with a beautiful snapshot of Tokyo Tower, the city’s Eiffel
Tower-esqe landmark.
During our visit, we were lucky enough to experience the Sky Aquarium, an impressive display of water creatures accompanied by a dazzling lightshow. Imagine drifts of jellyfi sh swimming while colorful laser lights fall on their bodies and tentacles. Simply mesmerizing. Do note though that this showcase is
temporary and is set to change in due course.
The recently opened Skydeck in the same tower is hard to miss. Here, the observation deck is brought to a new level, the rooftop. Atop the 52-fl oor Mori Tower, the Skydeck is popular with visitors trying to get a breezy air outdoor and closer to the sky.
Mori Art Museum features contemporary works from around the world. JP/Kenny Santana

Adjacent to Tokyo City View is Mori Art Museum, dedicated to the contemporary art scene. Until November, the museum is displaying art works from Ai Weiwei, a Beijing-based artist. Grab a free audio guide and be enthralled by Ai Weiwei’s philosophy behind his innovative creations.
Mori Art Museum features contemporary works from around the world. JP/Kenny SantanaMoving 1 kilometer away from Roppongi Hills, Midtown is the latest breed of composite city consisting of six buildings and lush greenery. On the backside of the Midtown Tower, people often spend their afternoon in the garden accompanied by the free-to-borrow books and vinyl mats available from
Midpark Project. With a caravan selling nibbles and a cuppa, some sun during a fi ne day and a few
friends, it’s a perfect little getaway tucked behind the Tokyo skyscrapers.
Don’t miss a visit to 21_21 Design Sight situated next to the park. The Issey Miyake-curated gallery is
dedicated to becoming a forum in examining how design impacts our daily lives. Exhibitions are held free of charge, where visitors can ponder on extraordinary design objects for hours. A must.
One of Roppongi’s great shopping destinations, Midtown’s Galleria is a four-storey arcade with many stores and food outlets to go gaga for.
Midtown Tower’s impressive-looking roof construction. JP/Kenny Santana
Midtown Tower’s impressive-looking roof construction. JP/Kenny SantanaWe loved browsing on the third floor where its interior shops are the perfect source of fi nding
goodies for loved ones back home.
In Style Meets People we found message-engraved plant seeds in a can that grows into a tree after a
few days of watering. Also stop by Idee where they sell everything chic from sofa to ties. A café inside the store is a favorite haunt for many trendy locals.
In the basement, visitors get their caffeine fix at Dean & Deluca, while some with more time to spare can take cooking lessons in English at ABC Cooking Studio. And like any other Japanese department stores, Midtown basement’s food hall has many scrumptious dining options to choose from, including sushi, katsu, tempura and ramen. Those who prefer an al fresco-style long lunch, often book a seat in Union Square Café facing the park.
Take time to browse Muji, a brandless fashion and lifestyle store (soon to open in Jakarta) that’s a hit
for Japanese and travelers alike for its affordable, simple-but-stylish goodies. From snacks to shoes,
aromatherapy to wallets, anything you need or you think you need can be found here at a steal.
In Roppongi Hills, four towers are fi lled with over 200 shops and food outlets. Once your hands are
fi lled with shopping bags from the likes of Anna Sui, Pepe Jeans or Kapital, grab some delicious omelet rice in a bento box from Omtrak Pit and have it in one of the open-area squares, followed by a trip to the nearby swanky Toho cinema, where most movies are presented in original language with English/Japanese subtitles.
Audience is participating in Blue Man show by transporting paper rolls into the stage. Courtesy of Ken Howard
Audience is participating in Blue Man show by transporting paper rolls into the stage. Courtesy of Ken Howard
For a two-hour blast, catch the worldwide sensation avant-garde theater of Blue Man Group (www.
blueman.jp) in Roppongi Hills. If you caught a glimpse of them in the Intel ad a few years back, trust us – the real deal is much better.
Three hairless and earless men in blue face-paint make for a rollicking good time, despite only making gestures with no verbal communications. Daily activities from a dinner norm to rock concert movements are stirred by the Blue Man Group with live percussion music, broad comedy and physical activities involving the spectators.
At the performance we attended, they dragged a clueless audience member backstage, and had him
recorded while being hung upside down and splattered with buckets of paint; we were jolted in our
seats. Also imagine our disbelief [and laughter] when they placed a wired mini camera into an audience member’s mouth and went straight inside his colon to be projected on the big TV screen. Was it real or not? That’s the cheeky part.
Audience members in the few front rows were also given ponchos to avoid getting splattered with paints from the stage. While in the fi nale, everyone will get a Blue Man experience by participating in transporting paper rolls from the back of the room to the stage creating somewhat an installation form. At this point, everyone felt they were part of this great show, which really rocks.
GETTING THERE
We flew from Jakarta to Osaka via Manila, with low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air.
For tickets and schedule click www.cebupacificair.com
Osaka and Tokyo are 2.5 hours away by the fast train Shinkansen. To save cost on Shinkansen tickets, buy a Japan Rail Pass before leaving for Japan, available from JaLan Tour (www.jalan-tour.com)
http://www.thejakartapost.com/channel/travel

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