Sunday, March 05, 2006


Universe For Rent

Home from Tokyo! My week was spent there doing research -- they have some extraordinary rare books, thanks to the cultural treasure buying sprees of the 1970s and 1980s.

Anyway, when not strolling around the city wondering -- "Why? Why doesn't the U.S. have vending machines that dispense hot bottled tea?" -- or "Why? Why don't we have manga coffeehouses back home?" -- I was haunting bookstores (for me) and toy stores (for the boys.) (Ok, also for me.)

One of my favorite finds:

...Kyoichi Tsuzuki's Universe For Rent, which snoops around in people's Tokyo apartments and explains things like the origins of lamp pull strings. It's sort of like the Village Voice's Shelter column, but in Japanese. (One apartment description sounds about right for me: "Stacks of books have hidden his TV screen and buried his kitchen alive -- not that he has time to cook. Even the oven has become a bookshelf.")

Although Tsuzuki's previous book Tokyo: A Certain Style was translated and issued in the US by Chronicle Books in 1999, there's no sign of a US edition of Universe For Rent yet. And there really should be one -- I mean, the book's already got a bilingual text in Japanese and English! Until a US publisher gets to work on it, you'll either have to order it from Amazon Japan or just content yourself with this fascinating Metropolis profile of Tsuzuki.

Oh, and my other favorite find: this utterly inexplicable children's lunch bag.

Yes... "Cram Cream!" indeed.

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