File #17
On Tour with Lowo=Tar=Voga Vol. 3:
Room Market in Kyoto & Theatre Pochette in Kobe

Room Market - Space Alternative Gallery
Japan-Italy Kyoto Kaikan B1F
4 Yoshida Ushinomiya-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-752-0416/Fax: 075-752-2262
Hours: 10:00-20:00 (Closed Wed.)

Theatre Pochette
2-16-36 Kitano-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe
Tel: 078-222-0009
Rental hours: 9:00-20:00
Capacity: Approx. 100 people
Equipment: Stage (5m x 5m), complete sound mixing/ lighting system, piano, screen, etc.
Available for theatre performances, concerts, parties, speeches, exhibitions, etc.

As I reported in the last installment, I have been accompanying the Osaka theatre company Lowo=Tar=Voga on their performance tour. For this third part in the series, I followed the group to Kyoto and Kobe.

It was a major expedition - over three hours - to get from Wakayama to Kyoto. The Space Alternative gallery was built as an annex to a real-estate agency called Room Market, which occupies the ground floor of the Japan-Italy Kyoto Kaikan in Hyakumanben, an area near Kyoto University that is popular with students. The concept of the place is interesting. Not only does the venue have a regular apartment layout, the owners had to struggle to provide a "living" atmosphere that corresponded to a variety of values and needs, and escape the real-estate image that made it difficult for visitors to enter. The place itself, however, is really very stylish. This and the properties I found listed in a housing pamphlet made me want to move to Kyoto.

For the audience, who had beaten a path through a heavy downpour, the performance was easy to watch in this space, which proved to be just the right size.

Kobe was also far away. Around Shin-Kobe, famous for the foreign residents' settlement, the streets were breathtaking with their Christmas illumination. Theatre Pochette is an established theatre that was built as an addition to a private residence in 1983. It is known as a cultural center where, for some 20 years, performers and viewers have listened to each other breathe in a space that seats 100. The theatre was created in the hope that it would serve as a performance arena for young artists and a resting place for them after they went out into the wider world. This performance, enlivened by the lighting and other theatre apparatus, was, as it were, the most "theatrical" I've seen so far.

Both of these venues, which I visited for the first time in the early winter of 2003, were very unique.

By chance, I was also reunited with two people in the process, making this a truly joyous roaming experience.

*In the next installment, I will conclude this series with one final performance report from another location.