Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Had lunch with Aoki-kun at Darjeeling, an Indian curry restaurant opposite Aka-mon (the Red Gate) of University of Tokyo. For 750 yen (3.75 UK pounds), we enjoyed a delicious Indian curry with a large naan bread and a glass of lassi. What's lacking in the area around LSE is this type of restaurant. Darjeeling seemed to be thriving; it now has seven branches in Tokyo. I'm sure that this restaurant is by far better than most Indian restaurants in London in terms of taste as well as price.

Aoki-kun was my closest classmate when I was a master student of economics at University of Tokyo. We went through the hellish core courses of graduate economics together.

He's now a PhD student of economics at the same university. But he was losing confidence as a researcher. I asked him why, and learned that it was because he had no one who shared his interest in analysis of the economic recession in Japan during the 1990s. I gave him a couple of suggestions to break through such a predicament.

I don't want him to give up his career as a researcher. He always asks questions. He never accepts things as they are. That was why I enjoyed talking to him when we were in the master programme, even though I didn't enjoy conversations with other classmates. That kind of personality is suitable for a researcher, isn't it?

In the evening, I met up with Reiko and walked along Omotesando Street, now dubbed "brand street" of Tokyo because all those international top fashion brands have opened their flagship stores on this street during the past few years. I wanted to check those stores in an architectural sense, but I was too shy to enter these fashion houses alone. So I needed Reiko to come with me.

The first surprise was Dior Omotesando. Inside the white glass building, colourful Dior gears were on display. The third floor dedicated to cosmetics was beautifully designed. I asked Reiko how to choose make-up materials. Choosing colours for foundations, eyeshadows, lipsticks, and so forth, with the total coordination in mind... Sounds fun! :-)

By the way, Dior Omotesando didn't seem to have staircases. We used a lift to go up to the third floor. As Reiko used to live in London, I told her this joke: "This building will be closed if firemen go on a strike." (For non-Londoners, when firemen took industiral actions in years 2002 and 2003, all the underground stations with lifts were closed.)

A disappointing one was Louis Vuitton. The front of the building is designed as a pile of LV trunks stacked at random, which is not too bad. But the inside of the building was quite unimpressive, together with unimpressive LV goods. Reiko said she doesn't like this brand though she used to have the iconic LV bag. Is there anyone who bought the LV monogram bag because they thought it looked cool? (But I like the white "Eye Dare You" bag designed by Takashi Murakami. I don't mind buying a trunk with that design.)

Totally unexpected was Tod's Omotesando. The appearance is quite unusual. What's more, the decor follows the same pattern, creating a sense of consistency. I didn't know what Tod's is. Reiko told me it's a leather shoe company, famous for loafers. As a result, any items on sale (even a jacket) had a touch of loafers, which looked a bit over the top.

The most impressive was Prada Aoyama. (See these photos as well.) The building itself, outside and inside, was impressive. But what strikes me a lot was this Prada boutique not only displayed Prada items but also housed an exhibition featuring Prada's collections of skirts in the past. The combination of consumerism and cultural appreciation, which I think is a great idea.

On the ground floor, this season's Prada bags were on display. Attached to each bag were funny-looking tin toy robots. The idea of attaching this kind of tin toys to a bag probably comes from Japanese high-school girls. They love attaching a lot of figures and the like to their school bag.

Displayed on the second floor was men's wear. As expected, only this floor looked different in a boring way.

We had dinner at Kua'Aina, a burger restaurant chain from Hawaii. I ordered a third pound of avocado burger at 1030 yen (5 UK pounds). The taste was fantastic, better and healthier (slices of fresh tomato and a generous amount of Romaine lettuce included) than any sandwitches available in London. I don't wanna go back to London any more...

During my stay in Tokyo, I saw Reiko three times. I noticed she is an incredibly kind and considerate person. We met each other when she lived in London, but it was after she left London that we became close friends. I think I'm very lucky to have her as a friend, because she's a different type from other friends of mine.

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