Robots And Kimonos

Japan has two obvious sides. Pop music, neon lights, skyscrapers, flashy music videos, outrageous fashion, quirky photo booths and experimental cuisine exemplify the nation’s funky side. While the more traditional land of Nippon (Nippon=Japanese for Japan) revolves around temples, Kabuki theatre, early mornings at the fish markets and cherry blossom trees painting Tokyo parks in hues of pink and white.

Nowhere is the culture clash more prevalent than in Tokyo’s fashion scene. One afternoon, I had lunch at the Chloe pop up cafe (to promote the opening of the Chloe store). As predicted, I was the only guy in the cafe. Ultra chic and modern Tokyo girls out for a coffee and croissant surrounded me.

The cafe was a white and very modern. It would fit in easily in New York’s hip Tribeca and Nolita neighborhoods. The girls were dressed very modern and well put together in western fashion. While the cafe revolved around a more laid back glamour, I saw traditional Japan that afternoon.

I stayed at the Hotel New Otani, which is a city with a city. It’s even has a traditional Japanese garden as it’s backyard. While getting lost trying to find my room (common occurrence), I stumbled upon old Japan. There were a group of older ladies dolled up and wearing kimonos.

They were enjoying an afternoon tea in most elegant surroundings. While the girls at the Chloe cafe were embracing a modern western perspective on style. These gals held on to old Japanese fashion trends, which are still revered today.

Later that night, I encountered a most interesting mix of women in the Ginza. I was strolling in the neon lights and glossy designer advertisements trying to find Tokyo station. There was the typical Ginza street scene, elegant women in long black trench coats and lovely boots. However, there was a bevy of Tokyo ladies in kimonos. The street scene painted the traditional meets modern more perfectly than any other street scene in Tokyo.

I usually prefer old everything, Tokyo is one of those exceptions. The opening of the film “Lost in Translation” shows the neon playground of Shinjuku. It’s neon signs and modern buildings are even more exciting to walk through. That’s Tokyo! It’s part futuristic cutting edge, but also temples and preserving the past. Japan is one of the places I love traveling to. I always daydream about it and feel very at home there.

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