The Tokyo Design Festa – a chaotic ensemble of art
The Tokyo Design Festa
Anime fan wearing an all handmade costume
As I entered the futuristic-looking Tokyo Big Site building on Odaiba Island, I was greeted by a person with the head of fish. Beyond him/her/it and all about the place wandered a colorful assortment of strange characters which appeared to have been born in fertile imaginations bred on Japanese Anime, Gothic Horror, and Salvador Dali. It was then that I knew I had reached my destination: the Tokyo Design Festa.
Fishhead man advertising
Getting a leg up or two at Tokyo Design Festa
Usagi – Drumming Rabbits – Female Taiko Group
Design Festa is a chaotic showcase of artists, musicians, craftsmen, designers, dancers, and performers – the sublime mixed with the avant garde. The Design Festa takes place twice a year in Tokyo and has been going on for 14 years.
A Wild Wall
Artists come from all over the world to participate. Booths are set up to showcase their creations and crafts. Visitors can look at, handle, and purchase their favorite pieces. In addition they have the chance to talk with the artist to learn more about them and their artwork.
An artist below one of her works
Painter creating art at the Festa
For artists, the Design Festa gives them the opportunity to get their work noticed and possibly sold. The event is a breeding ground for future art as a lot of networking goes on between artists which can lead to potential collabrations.
Pint-size masters at work
Ninja getting down with their badselves
A twirling ghost
There is so much to see, do, and absorb in a weekend at Design Festa. The place is literally a beehive of activity. There are performances to see, workshops to attend, bands to hear, painters to watch, and oddity to puzzle over.
Geisha Gone Godzilla
Panda Man! He eats, shoots, and leaves.
Some of the booths offer short workshops to teach visitors a bit their craft. I tried my hand at the ancient art of Japanese calligraphy. Calligraphy in old Japan was considered an all important skill. In the far off days of the Heian Period (794-1192), a person’s calligraphy was believed to be a mirror of their character. I would have been laughed out of the Heian Court with my paltry attempt at the turtle kanji character. My turtle looked a bit more like a sickly chicken strung up by clumsy anti-poultry vigilantes. My teacher, a ten year old girl, was patient with me and guided me as best as she could.
Me with my Calligrapher Teacher
Anime School Girl Calligrapher
At a makeup special effects booth, visitors were able to get horrific body scars which didn’t hurt a bit. I got myself a nice deep scar running down my arm which later fooled a few drunks at my local bar.
I got scarred at Tokyo Design Festa
There were several fantasical creations from this booth wandering around surprising the unwary and small children. One was tall elegant alien creature frighteningly realistic but fortunately sweetenly demure.
A very realistic alien courtesy of special effects make up
Another creation was a ghastly sculpture of a half-tree half-woman monster with the severed head of a man in her/its hand. Her/Its roots were nourished with the blood and gore of other men. It was a macarbe cocktail of environmentalism and feminism blended horrifically together.
Environmental Feminism at its goriest
A samurai fiercely guarding his booth
Along with the countless booths, there are a variety of showings throughout the day in different sections of the event area. Bands, short films, musicians, eclectic performers can be seen outside, upstairs, and in the main hall. I was able to see rock bands, taiko drum groups, naughty nurses, a gyrating eyeball man, and a dancing ninja troupe.
A band performing at the outdoor stage
Guitarist licks lips as he rips licks
The Bufferins – naughty pain relievers
One of the popular returning performance groups is Mr. Eyeball Love Globe from Taiwan. The group is headed by man with an enormous eyeball as his head. His outfit is covered with a similar pattern. His story from his flyer is that he is an alien here to spread love. The Eyeball group was one of the most out-there groups and attracted a lot of attention. They have been to Design Festa several times before.
Mr Eyeball Love Globe Group from Taiwan
Avant-Garde at its Warholian best
Design Festa takes place twice a year in May and November. For more information please check: