Skip to main content

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 "Rainstorm Beneath the Summit") but they had a majority of the other 43 as well. Even though the series is called "36 Views" there are actually 46 unique prints. Go figure.



The museum also showcased the detail-oriented and time-consuming process of making prints such as these:


I'm just imagining the printer (who was separate from the artist and the carver--although we associate the finished result with Hokusai, he didn't do the carving or printmaking) going to put on the last layer of color and putting the paper down just 2mm or so off and then the whole thing is ruined...I know the point of prints and woodblocks is that you can make many of them, but that sort of error would just kill me, and I've DONE simple printing on a printing press.


From the museum we walked to Senso-ji, enjoying the cloudy weather and passing the Skytree on the way:


Here's Senso-ji:


No, wait, nevermind, HERE'S Senso-ji:


Senso-ji is Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple and, according to Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, the most visited spiritual site in the world. There was clearly something going on today because the entire complex was mobbed. Or maybe that's just what "most visited" feels like in real life.


Breathing in the smoke from the main brazier is supposed to be good for your health and also to heal sickness, so everyone just stands around it fanning the smoke into their faces.

The view from just inside the main hall of people tossing money into the offering box and maybe proffering a prayer or two.



As if we hadn't done enough today, before our 5:30 pm dinner reservation at kiki bistro in Harajuku (10/10 would recommend) we went to 21_21 Design Sight in Roppongi. It's a very unassuming but chic museum designed by the incomparable Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Their current exhibition was all about artists that defied scale to create massive, often temporary, exhibits. For example, they had a bunch of information about Christo and Jean-Claude's project, "The Floating Piers," on Lake Iseo in Italy.




Other weird art installations included this webbing-thing made of tape that people could enter. I just think it looks like the spider webs from Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and that there should be some too-large and deadly spider lurking somewhere in there. 


There was also a very cool optical illusion by Georges Rousse that made for good photography. We also had quite coordinating outfits:


It feels weird to be truly done with my break and to have to go back to work, properly, tomorrow. But I guess that's what life actually is from now on? I'll see my mom to the express bus for the airport, lurk around for an hour or so, and then it's off to my usual 8-hour shift. Now I just have to wait for the next visitor(s) to come explore Tokyo with me!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

Today I went with my host brother to a cat cafe for "research". Yes it is a cafe and yes it has (canned) coffee, but also I really really really wanted to go to a cat cafe. By doing a little research, I found one off a convenient train station that not only didn't require a reservation in advance, but had free drinks and was actually significantly less expensive for more time than other cafes. On to Nyankoto!

For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
They were all very social, active cats as well.

Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
The other cats often ran around chasing each other (one was a very energetic kitten, so he was always pouncing on the others) or flopping down to be pet in co…

Shibuya and Ebisu

The past few days I've been in the Shibuya and Ebisu areas (think: south-west side of Tokyo) to check out some of the up-and-coming cafes, as well as wander around the neighborhood. I've decided that wherever I go, I'm going to find something to do in addition to spending 3-5 hours in coffee shops--while the research and the people I meet are incredible I do regret that I don't get to spend as much time exploring the other aspects of Tokyo. 
Yesterday in Shibuya I checked out The Local Coffee Stand, Coffeehouse Nishiya, and The Theater Coffee. The Local is a pretty unassuming space, even though it is on a main street. It's goal is to be the sort of jumping-off point for people just getting in to specialty coffee: they showcase beans from local roaster and run a website called "Good Coffee" in both Japanese and English to help people find "that local spot" in a neighborhood near to them. I'm including a link to the site, HERE. CLICK THIS.

Co…