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(en) [Japan] Irregular Rhythm Asylum, an anarchist space in Tokyo By ANA (pt) [machine translation]

Date Tue, 7 Aug 2018 08:44:24 +0300


Irregular Rhythm Asylum (IRA) is an infoshop opened in 2004. Keeping anarchism, art and activism as its main subject, it has books, zines and other goods related to social movements, resistance culture and the DIY scenario, just as it does as a space to bring together the people involved, both from Japan and foreigners. IRA also serves as a venue for events: talks, exhibitions, film shows, workshops, parties ... ---- by Jack Heslehurst ---- The blinking neon lights of Shinjuku illuminate a neighborhood famous for the ceaseless crowds at its station, its glass and iron skyscrapers occupied by the national business elite, big stores and the distinct brand of immorality emanating from Kabukicho. However, all this deceives about the past of Shinjuki like the nucleus of the birth of the counterculture.

In the 1960s, Shinjuku was a gathering of radicals, artists and intellectuals with a myriad of convictions, a place where people with the same views could express themselves in opposition to the "economic miracle," which was rapidly transforming Japan's institutions. It was the home of the movement angura (underground), where hippies sang, they acted beatniks, avant-garde performaram and leftists protested. In 1968, the streets of Shinjuku also became a battlefield, as the antiwar manifestations erupted into violence.

Unfortunately, little evidence of that time survived the demolition and digging machines of the improvement. That is, except the Irregular Rhythm Asylum (IRA). Located on the third floor of a modest apartment east of Shinjuku, a few minutes from Shinjuku Gyoen, the IRA is one of Tokyo's most important counterculture spaces.

Kei, the owner, describes the place as an " infoshop " - that is, a spot for local and international artists, activists and curious people with the desire to appear and share ideas, show their work and spend time. Whoever you are, you'll be welcome with open arms in the little shop, where Kei will always be behind the counter. Fluent in English and totally cheerful, Kei is always willing to talk and show the space to people. As well as serving as a meeting place, the IRA also sells a variety of books (including a fair amount of English titles), zines, CDs (many punks), and handmade items such as T-shirts, bags and badges .

The IRA began operating in 2004 when Kei took over the space of a group of friends designers. He believes that places like the IRA are important to DIY artists and musicians, as well as to promote non-hierarchical activism and highlight important issues that may go unnoticed by the mainstream . Anti-nuclear and anti-nuclear (especially after the Fukushima disaster) are at the heart of this, although recently resistance to some destructive elements of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 is also stirring the site. If you want to learn more about these problems, activism in Japan more generally or just participate, feel free to appear.

The IRA also provides space for regular events and workshops that always bring in new participants. At the beginning of Thursday nights (starting at 7pm), a group called A3BC joins a woodcut workshop, where political-themed paintings are created collectively. Even those without experience are encouraged to participate and learn everything they need to know. Similarly, on Tuesdays, a sewing wheel meets and all equipment is provided at no cost.

In addition to these events, there are also periodic lectures, film shows and parties. Two particularly notable events took place there last year: political art lectures in Japan over the last 100 years and a special party organized by the collective zine Perzine Blues Syndrome , which was attended by several zine creators from around the world. Also last year the IRA hosted No Limit , a week-long festival of events in Tokyo. Bringing together artists and activists from all over Asia, the event was designed to develop solidarity and expose radical arts. To learn more about this and everything that happens in the IRA, check out their Facebook page.

There are plenty of stores in Tokyo to buy English books, but none have a stock like the IRA. Of course, titles of famous anarchists such as Emma Goldman, Bakunin and Chomsky are present, but there is also an excellent range of books written by lesser known authors and independent editors to be searched. When asked for recommendations, Kei quickly picks up My Escapes from Japan from Osugi Sakae, an account of the exploits of a Japanese anarchist in Shanghai and Paris during the 1920s. Far from the books, handmade zines, trinkets, T-shirts, and other items they're also great, and you certainly will not find them anywhere else around town.

While Shinjuku may have lost its reputation as a radical, this multidisciplinary center of DIY art, politics and culture is certainly doing a good job of keeping the counterculture flag flying. The IRA is a bit of fresh air and well worth the visit.

Irregular Rhythm Asylum

Address: 160-0022, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku Tokyo, Japan.

Location: Shinjuku

Phone: +81 3-3352-6916

Site: ira.tokyo

FB: irregularrhythmasylum
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