Taking advantage again of the activities provided by the OSS, I was given an opportunity this past weekend to make Japanese food replicas. What I’ve gathered to be a custom pretty exclusive to Japan, the creation of food replicas gives restaurants the ability to showcase their menu in a long lasting and hygienic way. I noticed this tendency pretty quickly once arriving in Japan, as there are certainly more restaurants that have replicas on display than not. Traditionally made out of wax, the replicas are nowadays made out of plastic, as the wax that was used to create them melts at a relatively low temperature and is difficult to maintain during the summer. The replicas that we made were of the wax variety. By pouring melted wax into warm water in different ways, different textures of food can be obtained. The more popular one, and probably the easiest, was tempura, which was made by pouring the wax into the warm water from eye level to give it a jagged texture and then wrapping it around a plastic vegetable of choice. Cabbage is made by pulling the wax through the water to elongate it and then wrapping it up into a cabbage shape.
It’s uncanny how similar to real food the wax replicas look, and even more interesting to think of how someone first came up with these techniques. The experience was pretty fun, but I decided afterwards to not keep the replicas I made. Since they melt so easily I’d rather not be concerned with their wellbeing…
After the student activity, I got back on the train and headed towards Roppongi Hills. Once there I made my way to the Mori Art Museum, located on the 52nd floor of Mori Tower, to few an exhibit for a class I’m taking on the art of Tokyo.
The featured artist was Aida Makoto, whose war paintings I expected to see since we discussed them in class. However, due to an ignorance of the other kinds of work he has completed, I was completely in for a surprise. The exhibit, called Monument for Nothing was not only much longer than I had anticipated, but the war paintings were only a fraction of the amount of art that was on display, and with each room it got more and more surprising. Aida is a contemporary artist who uses his artwork to make statements about issues from World War II to materialism to Japanese sexuality, and he does these in a large variety of mediums. I saw works from paintings, to cinema, to cardboard figures and buildings, to more obscure things such as a room covered on all surfaces by a repeated photograph of pink intestines, a noose made of child’s toys hanging from the ceiling, and a recording of Aida prank calling people from all over the world, to list a few. Some of his more intense artwork was in its own room due to its sexually explicit content, and though much of it was extremely grotesque it was equally thought provoking and well executed. If interested, I highly suggest you look him up, he’s a very interesting artist and the statements he makes about Japanese society are both powerful and eye opening. If not for those reasons, some of his art work is even humorous.