Palladium Boots and Pharrell Go to Japan for ‘Tokyo Rising’

In Japan, that day six months ago when the 9.0 quake and tsunami struck is referred to as 3/11. According to Tokyo Rising, the new short documentary about the arts and culture scene in Japan since that day, the impact is still being felt.

Palladium boots partnered with musician and Grammy winner Pharrell Williams for a tour of Tokyo, interviewing local artists, shop owners, and nuclear activists. Last night, the company hosted a screening of Tokyo Rising followed by a Q&A with Pharrell and the film’s director.

As a film, it’s an interesting watch, digging into the arts scene in Tokyo in a way that the average tourist couldn’t. After seeing this movie (we’ve got part one above and the other four parts are available on the Palladium website) you’ll want to get on a plane and be there.

But make no mistake, there are serious issues tackled here as well. Fears about nuclear power have driven protesters into the streets; some of those interviewed talk about how the earthquake affected food, water, and other elements of everyday life; and, when you get to the 1:50 mark, there’s terrifying footage of skyscrapers bobbing and weaving like tree branches blowing in the wind.

“Japan is an earthquake country,” says Verbal, a hip-hop artist who appears in the film.

If that isn’t interesting enough, you have to remember that this is a film for a boot company. A Palladium booklet handed out to attendees at last night’s event puts this in the context of the “explorations” that the company has gone on in cities around the world, from New York, to L.A., to Berlin. But with the exception of the boots on Pharrell’s feet (and a plug for the company during his Q&A), you don’t really hear much about the company behind all of this.

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a Microsoft Windows clip that focused on the entrepreneurs in the video but made only quick mention of the company that sponsored it. As a viewer, I like not being hit over the head with promotions and advertising throughout a clip. But in these two examples, the product and the topic of the video are so far apart, you could miss the company all together. What do you think about this?