ropponghi hills


the red flashing lights and tall towers of tokyo: ropponghi hills

two nights last week were spent gazing out over a night time tokyo from the vertiginous heights of ropponghi hills - a high-end, ultra modern compound in the heart of tokyo that’s modelled itself on LA, and aims its fire at rich tourists. the mori tower houses an art gallery on its 53rd floor, as well as a viewing gallery to gaze at the city. it’s quite a remarkable experience weaving your way through the exhibits and occasionally turning a corner to be confronted by a wall of glass and the flashing red warning lights pulsing on the roofs of tokyo’s high rise buildings. i’ve never seen anything like it. however, although it is slightly more squat than the mori tower, i much preferred the view from tokyo tower itself. 


The National Arts Centre Tokyo, Ropponghi

I wasn’t interested in any of the exhibitions currently on at the National Arts Centre Tokyo, opened in 2007 in the extraordinary vicinity of the Ropponghi Hills development - a miniature city in itself. But I had to pay a visit if only to admire the stunning architecture of Kisho Kurokawa: the curved glass facade peeping through a plantation of trees, the huge sculptural concrete cones that miniaturise the human form in the lofty dimensions of the foyer, and the totally overpriced but stuffed-full-of-wonderful-curiosities gallery shop, which occupies the whole of the basement floor.

Oh, and everywhere you go in Tokyo has little umbrella stands outside the building to avoid floors getting wet from dripping brollies. Or else they provide very neat plastic condom-like covers that get wrapped around your soaking brolly by a machine at the door. But in more sophisticated venues (such as this gallery) an umbrella locker area is dedicated over to the safe-keeping of your Regenschirm. You bag the key to the clasp shut tight around its handle, so there’s no chance of desperate men stealing it in a downpour.