Disability Arts Online

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Artist and wordsmith, whose work engages with issues of access, from acknowledged physical needs to perceived symbolic exclusions. After being selected as one of DAO's New Voices in 2011, Gini's online presence has become an integral part of her arts practice

Asakusa

21 September 2014

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Dark Blue and white dragon printed bag, with drawstring fastening on wooden background

The temple at Asakusa is where I first saw large numbers of disabled people in Japan. It is also packed with tourists, many of them Japanese. Today I went back there to get some of its special atmosphere. My now click-less wheelchair had been returned in fine order just before ten. In Asakusa, the temple seems little changed, the healing sandals still hang beyond reach on the walls; the Bhudda's head and feet, and points in between, are still shiny from hands engaged in prayer. The sushi...

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Housebound in Tokyo

20 September 2014

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a two story building in corrigated tin cladding. It has 5 visible wooden balconies, one on the ground floor with rush matting drapped in front of whatever opening is behind it. There are lots of small plant pots with spiderplants and similar grassy things

My temperamentally clicking wheelchair has been whisked away and I sit frustrated watching the day pass by. It seemed like a good idea at the time - to get it properly checked out here by the maintenance guys at Yamaha. But the sun shines, the river calls, Tokyo hums gentle enticement. My chair is promised back by 10.00 tomorrow, batteries fully charged and ready to roll. Confined without my wheelchair, I need purpose to my day and I plan to draw. The photographing of low-rise Tokyo dwellings...

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Roppongi musings

19 September 2014

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Shop window in a car showroom, this photo shows a child`s blue pedal car and various blue and black branded accessories on a white background. The bonnet of a black Mercedes Benz is visible in the background

Another revisit, this time to the little restaurant in Roppongi that sells sushi and sashimi to make my mouth water. I have a bowl of rice with a selection of raw fish on top, not the most expensive item on the menu, but one that allows me to dream. And have I mentioned the wasabi? I would eat like this regularly. This is my first midday visit and the atmosphere is a little more subdued. At the next table I hear a Swede talking about working for the government, saying he has never had such a...

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Kasairinkaikoen

18 September 2014

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A very blue image of water and sky; water, the infinity pool, taking up the bottom third of the view. The mist fountains mask the horizon and melt into the low lying white cloud. Three white masts with white sails are just visible peeking above the mist a

Kasairinkaikoen is the train station before Disneyland; Kasai Rinkai is a large park on the coast with access to the sea, containing Tokyo Sea Life, a great glass observation platform, a Ferris wheel, picnic areas, restaurants and some great places to sit and relax. Tokyo Sea Life, today's destination, is on three levels. The top one is circular with an offset glass observation /information dome. This circle is almost surrounded by an infinity pool that blends visually into the sea,...

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Playing with words and rolling the terminal roof in Yokohama.

17 September 2014

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looking down on the wood-clad roof/floor of the terminal building at people sunbathing, relaxing and promenading. Looking inland with Yokohama skyline as a backdrop, you can just fit glimpses of blue sea on each side of the building.In white paint on the

Yokohama is also a familiar destination, the annual visit to its Chinatown being a regular enticement. Sadly this year our favourite dim sum restaurant has closed. Friends choosing the alternative venue are carnivores and simply don't understand eating without meat. But one of them has spent time in a wheelchair and has an understanding of access requirements. Shopping for strange Chinese goods is part of the deal, browsing the two main, crowded streets, is fascinating and as usual the...

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On walking wheels in Ginza...

16 September 2014

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This is a photograph of two telephone booths, one twice as wide as the other. they are both black metal framed with lots of glass. The door of the wider both does not extend to the ground, but stops about 3/4 of the way down. the handle is close to the bo

A visit or so ago I discovered the most sparkly wheelchair on display on the designer floor of a Tokyo department store. I attempted to enquire about this diamanté encrusted spectacle, but could find no-one able to tell me more. I kept an eye on the space. The chair disappeared for a while, but now it's back together with the words 'walking chair' - I'm thinking about that... Not one day goes by without seeing someone with a visible disability out on the streets,...

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Distractions on my way to the Imperial Palace.

15 September 2014

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This two story home is a mix of weathered wood and yellow painted concrete or stone. A lot of greenery, mostly Fatsia Japonica, grows around the entrance along a short crazy paved path. there is a confusion of rooflines, on the ground floor a wood clad sh

The day after the torrential downpour dawns with blue skies and sunshine. Tempting fate I plan to head in the direction of the Imperial Palace to find the National Museum of Modern Art. On all previous attempts it has rained and I've turned back because it has been serious rain, rather like that we've experienced recently... Today the sky is clear and the temperature comfortably in the high twenties. Heading out I take a small detour - spotting a wonderful small building for my photo...

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On missing Unlimited 2014

14 September 2014

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Photographed through some railings this green, street notice board, besides some current information posters, also explains where the nearest safe evacuation point is: Tsukuda River City Area.

Today the ocean seems to be falling out of the sky. Wheeling out is ill advised. Having blogged my distress at missing Unlimited 2014, I have tried to follow what I can from Tokyo, which of course means Dao blogs and reviews. Today is a good day for catching up, sorting my growing collection of photos and doing some rather neglected drawing. I have really enjoyed the video blogs from Colin and Tony and from Sue Austin (10th September 2014) The added atmosphere of Sue's busy Southbank...

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Tokyo Disney celebrates Halloween.

13 September 2014

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This dark blue image, with the moon visible in the background, shows two life-size plastic cartoon horses pulling an old fashioned spooky-looking coach driven by a disney ghost.The coach wheels have green lights, the horses orange ang black livery, but th

I'm not a Disney person so I've never minded being the only person in my world who'd never tried a Disneyland, anywhere. Today that changed when we decided to check out this very popular Tokyo destination. The weather forecast predicted rain, people muttered, 'typhoon season' but the day looked ok; the metro to Tokyo Disney takes about 15 minutes from the centre of Tokyo. Actually it was a toss up between Disneyland and Disney-sea, Disneyland being the same the world...

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Tokyo: megalopolis of city-villages.

12 September 2014

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Looking into a small allyway at a very battered little building with broken panes in a groundfloor front of small wooden windows. There are blue balconies on the first/top floor of what looks like two dwellings. Outside the variety of green plants include

I've been on a photographic hunt for the little tin and wooden buildings that are disappearing from Tokyo. Today I watched the demolition of one. It was on top of another one story building and made mostly of wood and just streets away from the busy carriageways that contain everything bar strictly local traffic. The site is being cleared for development and I had already noticed that one such building had gone from this particular patch. I pause to watch. The buildings appear to be...

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Rain, climate change and dengue fever.

11 September 2014

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Hanging in the trees above our heads are small triangular, green plastic boxes. Perhaps 20cms long and open ended they look like something used for monitoring wildlife. the one in this picture catches the light from thr flash on my camera. Behind the tree

The rain held off until the evening when it torrented down and the forecast thunder arrived. In the morning the streets were full of blossoming plants, it felt a bit like being in Africa . I saw blossom I'd never seen in Tokyo before and exotics like Cannas, that I've only ever seen here in rather tired leaf, now green and gorgeous with giant red and orange blossom. Big purple flowers of Morning Glory scrambled over everything. Masses of purple and white spiked liriope and small...

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Rainbow Bridge, Venus Fort and Tokyo Beach.

10 September 2014

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Walking to Shiodome station from home was a first; we would normally take the metro to Ginza and have a shorter walk, so we made the mistake of being on the wrong side of the road. There are steps and even an escalator, but no wheelchair access to the bridges that cross the multi layered dual carriageway. In this district life, including the train station, happens from the second floor up, so we backtracked to find an elevator. The plan was to cross the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba, have some...

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Rainbow Bridge, Venus Fort and Tokyo Beach.

10 September 2014

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this picture of a shrink wrapped couple from the Image-Makers exhibition, shows two people curled around the wheels of a bicycle. The wheels are decorated with colourful printed cards, comics etc. the shimano gear wheel and a pedal are visible. The woman

  Walking to Shiodome station from home was a first; we would normally take the metro to Ginza and have a shorter walk, so we made the mistake of being on the wrong side of the road. There are steps and even an escalator, but no wheelchair access to the bridges that cross the multi layered dual carriageway. In this district life, including the train station, happens from the second floor up, so we backtracked to find an elevator. The plan was to cross the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba, have...

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Image making, image watching in Ginza

9 September 2014

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In a darkened room the red white and yellow triangles of `Gace Jones Maternity Dress` stand out against the blue back wall. In the forgrund two brightly lit, strangely attired automatons whirl on circular tracks. The larger, black-clad in a metal-hooped s

Image Makers set me thinking... Is it true that you are what you wear? That your appearance is who you aspire to be? We try to express our personality and individuality by presenting ourselves in clothes we make choices and conscious decisions about; following fashion, following brands and following celebrities - 'I shop, therefore I am' I personally find that my clothes level me out. They cut off those 'Grace Jones' dramatic moments and blurr over the black dog days by...

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21_21 Tokyo, Image-Makers

8 September 2014

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This black and white video portrait of Gao Zinglian in a dark narrow corrodor mirrors fuzzy purple in the rough polished concrete walls on each side of it. Gao Xinglian`s eyes are closed, his mouth very slightly open and his bald image is cropped at the c

21_21 Design is another of my favourite Tokyo places. The exhibitions in this gallery are always something special. Image-Makers is no exception; featuring work by Jean-Paul Goude, Jun Miyake, Robert Wilson, David Lynch, Noritaka Takehana and Photographer Hal, Image-Makers is directed by Helene Kelmachter. Grace Jones and Bjork feature on the poster and in the works of Jean-Paul Goude together with drawings and kinetic sculptures. As you enter the first exhibition space you are greeted with...

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Same Procedure as Last Time

7 September 2014

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sitting in the platform lift I photographer the man holding the controls and the man with the ramp approaching. the metro is empty of trains, but a few Japanese commuters are on the platform. On the central platform columbs are instructions like no rushin

At my local Tokyo metro station I flick my Passmo plastic on the screen to get through the wider accessible  gate and catch the eye of the guy in the info booth. I wait, carefully out of the way of streaming commuters, while the ramp man does his checks. He unpacks the ancient-looking platform lift that will transport me down the two flights of steps. He has stopped panicking when I reverse in, but still demands 'braki oni' when he forgets our unspoken agreement to just watch me...

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On map reading, access and whiskey for the soul.

6 September 2014

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This colourful poster from the shrine has a black background, text and five small images on the left and on the right bold traditional style drawings of rather scary looking characters, one black, one white. A large Japanese written character fills the bo

A last minute change saw me at Ichigaya station with a fallen through plan. Ten minutes away is the infamous Yasukuni Shrine and I decided to go there. The shrine is a memorial to the two and half million people: both Japanese and foreigners, men, women and children, who, over more than a hundred years, have given their lives in the service of the Emperor. It gets about five million visitors a year. I need to cross a river, it's banks are incredibly steep and it is the greenest river...

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'Takehiko Inoue interprets Gaudi's Universe'

5 September 2014

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Eyes to lips of a mustachioed, monochrome Inoue form the upper part of this poster. The five spires of Sagrada Familia against a blue Barcelona sky fill the bottom three quarters, overlaid with white, spidery Japanese text.

The versatile interior space of the Mori Museum Arts Centre Galleries on the 53rd floor of the 54 story Mori Tower in Roppongi, was designed by the architect Richard Gluckman. On my first visit I found the title 'museum' confusing, as it does not exhibit a permanent collection but rather temporary exhibitions of works by contemporary artists. I have come to look forward to the exhibitions I catch here, and make peace with ones I will miss. The current exhibition 'Takehiko Inoue...

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Rain, more rain, but not a washout.

4 September 2014

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A view of the grey and black Wako shop front with giraffes dislayed in the two gold-lined windows. Only the giraffes black and gold legs,tail and lowered head are visible in the windows which also reflect images from the street outside. A person in the ri

Today we have a weather warning for heavy rain, flooding and thunder. The day is cold at 24 degrees and I haul out warmer clothes. An attempt to roll outdoors is abandoned when the slick surface and rivers of water make rolling hazardous. The umbrella seeps rain, my raincoat seeps rain, I arrive back in need of comfort food and drink. I get both in a bowl. A strangely nutty brown thick Chinese treat, thicker than drink, thinner than cake, hot and eaten with a spoon. Outside it rains, inside I...

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Tokyo Hands and many wheelborne

3 September 2014

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A peek into a well lit Japanese flower shop. Typically small with contents spilling outside,this one has posies of small sunflowers, red and pink roses and shades and textures of green giving a light and cheerful impression.

Tokyo Hands is today's main attraction. The best one I know is in Shinjuku, home of Tokyo's metropolitan government and boasting the busiest station in the world. We need to change train lines to get there and decide to do that at Tokyo station. Last time I was there, access from one line to another at Tokyo station was through a non-public series of underground warrens. Things have improved, but it's quite some distance and there was still a short non-public area to be escorted...

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Wordplay, Lovers and bridal Pomeranians.

2 September 2014

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on a black marble oblong plinth lies this gold coloured statue by Bernard Meadows surrounded by greenery. To me it looks like lying down references to spinal chord, pelvis, discs and chunky legs. Or maybe a stool on its side? The surface of the cube is sh

Prompted by Doraemon, the cartoon figure, and memories of a previous exhibition, I revisit Marunouchi and discover in Marunouchi Building a one day event which confuses me somewhat. It's a fashion show (the only event information in English, but this description might mean anything) sponsored by Eye Coffret Cafe, which seems to be a contact lens retailer. The lenses are described as 'base make', possibly a link to make-up and foundation, because they have a natural brown iris edge...

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Robots, reality and fantasy architecture.

1 September 2014

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Five white robots, each with what looks like an ipad on its chest, are stood before a line of students sitting at desks. A female student in a blue dress and white hat is in the foreground. Behind the robots is a teacher with microphone and at least three

Every year the Aoyama Gakuin University (AGU) holds an open 2 day event for young people - starting from three to seven year olds and introducing them to creative fun, games and technology. It's maybe the second best such event in Japan so I'm off to check it out. At the station it's easy to figure out which way to go, there is a steady stream of children and young people heading down the road; I follow. AGU was founded by American Methodists in 1949 and there is a statue of John...

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Toranomon - Tiger's Gate

31 August 2014

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Two plastic looking cartoon characters, presumably both cats, stood infront of glass and steel doors that look out on greenery and more skyscrapers. The cat figures are bith weaing colars with brass bells around their necks. Like humans they stand upright

Today's outing to Roppongi is to see a display of 60 variations on what looks to me like a cartoon cat; a blue blob with whiskers who can go anywhere through a magic door. I'm optimistically reminded of the 100 or so artist decorated figures I discovered in the skyscraper Marunouchi Building on a previous visit. When we get there, the Roppongi Hills figures have gone, but there is a lot of promotional material for a Gaudi exhibition at the Mori Gallery - an outing for next week. A snap...

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Conversing in English

30 August 2014

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This Japanese notice also warns in English  'KEEP OUT bicycle skateboard' has a cartoon kid looking cross, together with an image of a bicycle and a skateboard

Making the best sense I can of the little bits of Tokyo I am becoming familiar with is a gradual thing. Nothing is static, nothing is set in stone. And the Japanese strangers who converse with me may have their own agenda. More Japanese than ever are making the attempt. Notices and instructions in English are increasing, I put this all down to preparations for the Olympics - it's a prestige thing. A conversation about culture leads into talking fairy tales. How do children get introduced to...

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Identity crisis?

29 August 2014

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A grey and white gull sitting on the blue railings alongside the Sumida river has the brownish river and pinkish skyscrapers for a background on a grey overcaste day

Waiting for the guys to come and service my wheelchair, I watched the tail-end of a TV programme that had a sweet sounding Japanese female cooing about the laying and hatching of insect eggs and the emergence of new life. It was followed by a male voice talking the science of stars in the night sky. A young female appeared on screen with a sketch pad, followed by a mature male who explained the sky to her and allowed her to look through his giant telescope while she marvelled and cooed in...

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