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Showing posts from 2017

Art in All Forms and Media (The Museum Saga Continues)

Today was my mom's last day in Japan, and the weather gods blessed us with a day that was, for once, cool. It was the first time in days I felt I could be outside without melting into a Claire-shaped puddle and we took advantage of the change in temperature to walk quite a bit. Also I'm so sorry you guys must be so sick of reading about museums, but I can't help it...

So. Our first stop was the Sumida Hokusai Museum.


It's a small museum that exhibits works by Hokusai, particularly those that involve scenery of the Sumida area, where Hokusai live for most of his life. The building is supposed to be shaped like one of the artistic jags of lightning from this particular print of Mount Fuji, which some of you might recognize:


We were fortunate--the museum was currently exhibiting most of Hokusai's well-known "36 Views of Mount Fuji." Not only did they have the three most famous ("The Great Wave off Kanagawa," "South Wind, Clear Sky," and &…

It's Too Darn Hot

It has been so miserably hot and humid these past few days.

Japan is usually such a nice place to visit. Spring? Cherry blossoms! Fall? Beautiful autumnal colors and cool, crisp weather. Winter? To be honest, winter in Japan (unless you're living in the more northern Tohoku region or in Hokkaido) is a pretty mild affair. But SUMMER is the WORST. It's humid, like, all the time. You sweat when you walk, you sweat when you sleep, you sweat just sitting their in your apartment cursing the sun. Your clothes don't dry because the air is essentially water. I would almost prefer that it rained more than it does...it's called the "rainy season" and while, yes, it does rain a bunch it doesn't rain as often as one would assume. The rain, at least, gives you a break from the humidity. So humidity + yesterday and today's 97-ish degree weather meant that when my mom and I were outside we were both suffering. But! We soldiered on.


Our first stop yesterday was the m…

Doing Kanazawa in a Day

Today was the big Kanazawa adventure, and my main shot to prove to my mother why Kanazawa is awesome (spoilers: she liked it).

Knowing that the day was supposed to be miserably hot (another spoiler: it was), we elected to hit our main outdoor activity, Kenrokuen and the grounds of the Kanazawa Castle, early in the morning. Although there's no flowers blooming in this traditional Japanese garden during the height and heat of summer, the entire complex is still a beautiful and peaceful walk. It's easy to see why Kenrokuen is deemed one of the "Three Great Gardens" of Japan.


Here my mother and I are posing with the famed stone lantern of Kenrokuen that perches on the edge of Kasumi Pond.

The most amusing part of visiting the garden, however, was a complete coincidence. In front of a statue of Yamato Takeru (a legendary Japanese prince) another tourist asked me to take his picture, which I was happy to do--it's just par for the course of traveling around. But then we…

More Art that I Don't Understand (Also, I'm Back in Kanazawa)

I'm clearly the kind of person who goes to museums when I don't know what to do with myself.

Yesterday (Friday) was the first day of my six-day vacation from work (more on which will come in a future post). My mom was able to fly down for a visit, but since she wasn't arriving until the evening I had a whole day to kill before going to pick her up at Haneda airport. The first task was, of course, to clean my entire apartment (floors, toilet, bathroom, general tidying, laundry, and taking out the garbage) but that task aside I still had quite a bit of time to myself.

So in the early afternoon I found myself wandering around Omotesando (again) looking for something to do. It was nice to leisurely just wander about, poking my head into any of the cute (expensive) shops that caught my eye. Eventually I found myself outside the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art and decided to check it out.


The building itself is a very interesting concrete structure designed by Mario Botta, and…

Artistic Aspirations, Foiled

Today, for a bit of culture on my off day, I went to the National Art Center located in Roppongi, Tokyo. The building itself is quite lovely, with a rippled glass exterior and interesting upside-down conical concrete structures that feel a little bit like massive stalactites in the main atrium. The other somewhat curious feature of the museum is that you don't pay for entrance to the museum itself, you pay for admission to each individual exhibit. On the one hand it means you are only paying for what you want to see, but on the other hand each ticket is...pretty expensive. So I elected to see only one exhibit: a contemporary art exhibit from artists of the eleven ASEAN countries called "Sunshower."


You don't often see exhibits that include artists from Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malyasia (just to name a few), and the art was certainly infused with explicit references to colonialism, geo-politics, revolution, home, and personal identity. 
This is just a sma…