Design Festa at Tokyo Big Sight

posted in: Japan Trip 2012 | 0

This weekend is “Design Festa”, an exhibition of crafts, art, jewelry and creativity, at Tokyo Big Sight! While I’ve been to Big Sight in the past, this will be the first time I attend a show in Big Sight’s exhibition halls and I have a free pass, courtesy of Sakura House apartments!

11:00am JST

It’s a magnificent day… blue sky, warm breezes, bright sun. This is perhaps the best weather yet and I’m taking advantage of it by spending my morning behind the camera lens. This morning’s primary subjects are Fall leaves, the neighborhood Shinto shrine, sun wind and water. After a couple months of use, I’ve concluded that the Panasonic FZ200 excels as a video recorder and sucks as a still camera which leaves me lugging around two cameras at the same time. Sadly the only way to correct this situation will be to move up to one of the high end Canon DSLR’s like the 5D Mk III or 7D… or get used to lugging around two sets of camera equipment.

1:30pm JST

Ok, photography and videography finished for now and I’m off to Mister Donut to tank up before the Design Festa. Thinking about it, TODAY should have been the day I spent at Tokyo Sky Tree, but I don’t want to miss “Design Festa” on their first day at Big Sight, so we hope for blue skies for another day.

2:00pm JST

Andrew joins me at Mister Donut and we head to the nearby Toei bus stop where we’ll pick up the #1 bus to Tokyo Big Sight. We’ve talked about using the bus more often, especially since Odaiba is so close to Monzen Nakacho. Also, the Toei line from Monzen Nakacho is really really simple to understand, there’s little you can do to get it wrong… except we do get it wrong by boarding the #1 bus for Tokyo Teleport and not Tokyo Big Sight. Even this faux pas is easy to correct as we get off of the bus at the Telecom Center station and ride two stops on the Yurikamomi automatic train to the Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon station directly in front of Big Sight!

The bus is a really great way to travel and unlike the subterranean subway, you get to see and interact with the city and people. A scenic bus ride it is too, we pass the Fuji Sankei building, the “Ghost in the Shell” building, Diver City with the giant Gundam standing tall and powerful outside, the “Smokestack” building, the “Italian” building, Tokyo Teleport, the ferris wheel… all familiar landmarks from the last trip, five years ago.

And there it is, looming hugely against a blue sky in the late afternoon sun… Tokyo Big Sight!

3:00pm JST

We head for the Big Sight exhibition hall entrance, and find the entrance to the West exhibition halls. The Design Festa show is utterly HUGE and has occupied ALL of the West exhibition hall space! There are leather works, tile makers, cut glass works, ceramics, beads, jewelry, clothes, purses, pins, stickers, flat art, 3D art, dolls, postcards, t-shirts, books, posters and more.

Within ten minutes of browsing through the various crafts, I’ve purchased a manga size cloth book cover and learned a few things about Japanese manga sizing. Next I strike up a conversation with a guitar luthier who makes 3/4 to 1/2 scale guitars for his daughter. The CEO of their small company owns a Traveler guitar much like I have. Steampunk 3D art and jewelry was also to be found and admired.

Here’s an artisan who makes origami… out of sheet copper.

One booth even sells real leather whips for … what whips are usually used for, although I must admit I’ve never seen a braided leather whip in pink before.

There is also a small amount of cosplay and entertainment with a live stage featuring several acts and performance area where there is music and dance. I enjoyed the celtic harp (yes celtic harp) and various other musicians performing in the hall, although I missed all the live performances, there was just so much to see! Two whole floors were devoted to Design Festa and I didn’t even make it to the second floor, it was that huge!

6:45pm JST

I stop by the Sakura House table to touch base with the folks who got me into Design Festa for free. At 7:00pm, however, the show abruptly closes and suddenly a sea of humanity is headed for the exits!

7:30pm JST

That sea of humanity headed for the exits is no doubt headed for Kokusai-Tenjijō Station, the “Conestoga Station” as I like to call it, and the Rinkai line out of Odaiba. While waiting for the tide of humanity to subside, we search for a place to have dinner and come up empty. One Chinese restaurant even refuses to serve us, yeah it happens. Having expended our dinner options, we head to Kokusai-Tenjijō Station but take the Rinkai line to Shin-Kiba and in the opposite direction of the rest of the crowd. From Shin-Kiba its an easy connection to the JR Keiyo line and Monzen Nakacho.

8:30pm JST

In the Shin-Kiba JR station there are much better food options and we decide to have dinner at C&C Curry, a popular chain in Japan. The ticket machine is difficult to use, which only underscores my need to improve my language skills, but after hand-holding by the kid working the counter, I’m set with my tankatsu, curried beef and rice. And although only medium hot, this proved to be a spicy and satisfying dish for only Y730!

C&C Curry Shops

[ First-Time Travelers Tip: When you’re traveling in Japan and hungry for something to eat, you can always find a variety of places too eat in the rail stations, ranging from curry places to stand up noodle bowl counters and even sushi! ]

9:00pm JST

Now it’s a simple ride from Shin-Kiba Station to Etchujima Station on the familiar Keiyo line and we’re home free. So, although the Toei bus trip didn’t go quite as planned, we did learn more about transportation options and bus routes from Monzen Nakacho. The Toei bus may be the far simpler and less expensive mode of transportation from Monzen Nakacho to Odaiba. Win!