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Museums of the Old and New

Today was a day for museums.

Initially my host family and I were planning to take a drive to a lake near Mount Fuji, but since the early morning weather was rain we postponed until tomorrow. This left us with an empty day to fill.

My host sister stayed in to study, and my host mom stayed in to work, so my host brother and I set off for the Omotesando area because I'd had an urge to visit the Nezu Museum.

The Nezu Museum is a small museum by most standards that usually houses a small collection of historical pieces (the exhibits today were on ancient Chinese bronze mirrors, a small collection of ink and brush paintings of birds and flowers, three 18th century jeweled English clocks, and an exhibit on loan from Smith College). The main draw to the museum is its extensive traditional garden and the variety of stone lamps and statues scattered within it.





The garden was also scattered with these stone lamps and statues from as far back as the 12th century. They were tucked into corners, hidden in bamboo groves, reflected in the central pond. Many of the statues had coins tucked at their bases or placed in nooks and crannies. I found it...not bad, per say, but interesting that these ancient sculptures were allowed to sit and moss and wear away in a garden instead of being preserved in a museum. It brought to mind a conversation that I had in a Buddhist history class last semester about how experiencing statues of Buddha in museums are completely different that they would have been experienced in a temple (to summarize: Buddha's eyes only seem as if they're looking away from you because you're viewing them at eye level while in a temple the statues would usually have been elevated above you so the downward-facing eyes are actually looking right at you). It's just a different way to interact with art.

From the Nezu Museum, my host brother and I walked to Roppongi, where there was a special Ghibli exhibit on the 52nd floor of the Roppongi Hills building.


It was mainly an exhibit of vintage posters used to advertise all of their films from the 1980s to their newest film (a three-way collaboration) called The Red Turtle, out in September. I waited in line for an hour for a ticket. It was another half hour to the elevator to get to the 52nd floor. And of course the exhibit was crowded because Ghibli can draw a crowd.

And as always, Ghibli was disgustingly strict about photography. It always rankles me a bit because Hayao Miyazaki is always so staunchly anti-capitalist (there was a snafu when the ticket price was eoriginally 2300 yen, but then they lowered it to the price of a movie ticket--1800 yen--because it was "selfish" to ask for any more) but merchandise is so expensive and the museum is so exclusive. But the posters were lovely and nostalgic, and there were parts you could photograph.


Here's the view from the 52nd floor.


And here's a line WITHIN the exhibit for people to take a photograph on a to-scale, furry version of the cat bus from My Neighbor Totoro. I opted to skip this; not worth the wait.


But here's what the cat bus looks like (with two people I have absolutely no relation to in the windows).


One of the entryways had a mechanical mine shaft from Castle in the Sky.


And it led into a room that had a giant airship floating up and down, propellers rotating. This was spectacular.


"Owari"= "the end"

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