Skip to main content

The Point Is

It snowed in Tokyo today, just when I had decided to wear leather shoes.
True, the weather forecast had said "Snow 100%" when I checked it that morning, but I simply couldn't believe it: in the entire winter I'd spent in Tokyo six years ago not once had it even sort of maybe hinted at snow. But by 1pm it was snowing big, fat, damp flakes of snow that quickly piled up on the sidewalks and in the streets. I was told to go home early from my first day at my new job (what a day!), and since it took me nearly two hours to get back to my apartment that was certainly the right call.

Hard to believe that only two days ago it was nearly 50 degrees (Fahrenheit, I'm still a US girl at heart, here, even if I now live in 24-hour time) and I was walking through a sunny Japanese garden.


The Kyuyasuda garden is located in the Ryogoku area of Sumida-ku, in the Eastern half of Tokyo. It's an area famous for sumo, and the park is nestled against the grounds of the "Ryogoku kokugikan," or "Ryogoku Sumo Hall." The garden, which used to belong to a samurai family, is small but well-tended and popular, apparently, for wedding photos. Indeed, there's a very picturesque bridge, painted over in red and orange, that seemed to be a popular photo spot.


However, the main purpose of the visit was less the garden and more the brand new (opened only on January 18, 2018!) sword museum:



I was accompanied by Ms Naomi Pollock, a professional writer specializing in Japanese architecture. You can check out her website HERE and her instagram HERE. It's amazing how traveling with someone who is an expert in their field improves your own experience, because they can point out all the little details you would have otherwise glossed over.



Some tidbits I can provide:
The building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki. The first floor, which is primarily a public community space, is designed with curves and mellowed-metallic finishes. As you move to the stairs, however, the angles and materials become sharper and harsher until you come to the second floor exhibit space. It's truly designed to highlight the dozens of swords, hilts, scabbards, and accessories, which seem to glow underneath pinpoint lighting.





The Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords really has a spectacular collection, and that includes modern swords as well as ancient heirlooms. They also had specific categories for sword making versus sword carving versus even sword polishing. Each aspect of the craft could and did have masters dedicated to that single element. It's mind boggling, to a certain extent, but amazing. The detail is really spectacular, and next time I'll have to go with a sword expert so I can learn a bit more about this truly sharp (hehehe) aspect of Japanese art.

Now, if only the snow would stop so I could get there...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.


A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.



The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

Feeling a Bit Blue

It astounds me that it's already the end of August. Time has seemed to pass in a bit of a blur: one hot, sticky mess of 100-degree days and only mildly more bearable evenings. I was also fortunate to visit the U.S. for a week (not Chicago I'm afraid, but Wheeling, West Virginia and then San Francisco) for a family reunion. It was lovely to see all the aunts, uncles, and cousins who I hadn't seen in person for several months, if not years. But given the short visit I essentially spent two weeks with my body clock completely confused about what time zone it was supposed to be in.  However, I'm now I'm back in Japan for the near future and have essentially settled back in to my usual rhythm of life. 
This past weekend I decided to engage with my arts-and-crafts side. The summer of 2009, when I first visited Japan, I was lucky enough to try my hand at aizome (indigo dying) in Kyoto. Recently I had a hankering to try it again, and e-stumbled upon a shop in Asakusa call…