Sunday, 2 March 2008

無力無善寺 Muryokumuzenji

Or in other words, delving into the subculture of subculture until you reach the bottom.

But let's start at the beginning. Yesterday I was almost arrested by a police officer for drug dealing in Osaka and I tell you what, something was in the air this weekend to make strange unreal scenarios blob out of nothing.

My friend Philipp from Germany needed a camera, so we went to Akihabara and got one.

Then we continued two stations with the yellow Chuo line till 両国 Ryougoku, where the 江戸東京博物館 Edo-Tokyo Museum is located. The building itself looks awesome, like a fighting AT-AT walker and its huge! But the inside is also really cool (entrance 600 Yen, 400 for students).

The museum deals with Edo from its beginning after Tokugawa Ieyasu claimed supremacy over Japan until it became Tokyo in the Meiji Era and ending with the great Kantou Earthquake and WW1.
There are a lot of amazing replicas of city parts with little plastic figures illustrating the life in Edo. But also a lot of authentic items, like Japan's first small car type, as well as one oldtimer. The permanent exhibition areas covers two floors, where the second one spins a wooden bridge over the first one, that once stood in Nishibashi and connected two central parts of Edo-Tokyo.

It's totally worth a visit, especially if you have a little interest in Japanese history.

Afterwards we went eating at a nice restaurant (I ate a potato piza ^^) and then on to the bottom of the subculture of subculture. Now with subculture I mean the metal musical live house scene in Tokyo, which is really cool, but concerts rarely host more than 30-40 people in the audience.
And now we go on the next level, the subculture of this further includes maniac one girl/man performances crying into the audience about their hard fate eventually theatrically show-suiciding between the standing audience and a girl talking to her stuffed frog pet, while talking a kind of cabaret like way. All this happened in a place called 無力無善寺 Muryokumuzenji, named like a Buddhist temple, and indeed the owner appears with shaved head like a Buddhist monk. The temple actually happens to be his apartment and during the live music, he simply puts his bed outside the room. That means no more than maybe 20 people fit inside, the beer is in his fridge together with his food and the toilet happened to be beyond the stage, so that you actually have to cross the playing band in order to access it.
The place itself looks like being taken from Alice In Wonderland. It is lit in red light and all kinds of stuff including a lot of stuffed toys, streamers, sakura/cherry blossoms, hanging down from the ceiling. The walls look are further decorated with images and merchandise of Hello Kitty and Gaspard. Between that you find incantations to the Amida Buddha and other Buddhist temple items, which make it a real temple after all.
The Buddhist monk owner with his bald head weared a yellow ensemble and a pink apron. He is talking in a high pitch voice and seem to be a total maniac, but the most sympathetic maniac I have ever met. The girl who operated the sound mixers, if not done by the bands themselves, well it was no girl ok. If you looked at her closely it became a him dressed in this typical french maiden outfits, you see a lot here in Japan. He also looked like a nice friendly fella.
In this combination of ideas from children's fairy tales and horror cabinets combined with an owner who looked a lot like Hannibal Lecter, according to Philipp, we watched...

Well let's start with the music first. We came a little late and missed the first bands. But apart from the performances mentioned above we saw two brilliant metal bands entirely consisting of girls. That is pretty rare in Germany, and the more happy am I that those girls proved they could make cool music just like their counterparts in the other gender.

The first band, is the one we already saw on Friday, Galhammer. Three really cool girls making dark atmosphere music inspired by the band Hellhammer. The second one was also really interesting. They combined metal music with traditional Japanese musical elements, like the very striking way of singing you often her in traditional Japanese songs, as well as in theater performances here. A very interesting combination.


the other girl band

After that we reached the bottom of the subculture of subculture, when the stuffed frog girl started to strip, revealing a plastic penis attached to her hips and asked the Buddhist monk owner to the stage, which tried to grab it and... Well I hope no children are reading this!
It went on for this for a while, use your imaginations. I think they both had experience in SM. Eventually the suicide lamenting girl also joined in, and the audience didn't know what to do or how to react. It was really strange, but still since it was all part of a half planned half spontaneous performance and all, I think even if many will disagree, I'd call it a kind of art.
The half shocked or at least utterly confused audience, didn't know what to say or do and left after that. It was the first time for most of the audience, used to the first layer of subculture, surely not to the bottom of the second one.

some flash pictures of the place between the breaks

For me it was an incredible evening, and I am not sure if it all was real and doubt that anyone will believe me what I wrote here. However if you doubt my words, I welcome you to accompany you to this temple to see for yourself. Although the performance probably won't be the same. Maybe it was a one time experience...


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