It's hard to describe Seiko Ito with one handy label. When I ask my friends to do it, they struggle.

"He's a TV comedian on a show for kids," says one. "He's an award-winning novelist," says another, before adding — "And he's one of Japan's first rappers!"

"I heard he's really into plants," one friend tells me. "He visited Disneyland just to research them."