Archive for July 16, 2017

shibuya & the yamatane museum of art   4 comments

Saturday, July 15:  Back at Shibuya Station, I finally see the famous “Myth of Tomorrow,” Okamoto Taro’s 1967 mural commissioned by a Mexican luxury hotel.  It disappeared two years after its creation, but was finally found in 2003.  In 2008, the 30-meter long work, which depicts the atomic bomb exploding over Hiroshima, was installed inside Shibuya Station.

Myth of Tomorrow at Shibuya Station

Myth of Tomorrow at Shibuya Station

At the far end of the 2nd floor, on the way to the Inokashira line, is this pretty tile mural.  I don’t know much about it, but it’s very colorful.

Colorful tile art at Shibuya Station

Colorful tile art at Shibuya Station

Shibuya Station has a lot for which it’s famous.  Shibuya Crossing is rumored to be the world’s busiest, and is nicknamed “The Scramble.” People cross in all directions at once.  I’ve crossed here before, but until today, I’d never had a high-up vantage point. It’s fun to watch from Shibuya Station’s second floor, near the “Myth of Tomorrow” mural.

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing

From Shibuya Station, I get on the Yamanote line and go one stop to Ebisu Station.  When I get out, I need to walk some distance to the Yamatane Museum of Art, but I have no idea in which direction to walk.  I normally try NOT to turn on my cellular data while I’m in Japan, but here I’m so hopelessly lost, that I must turn it on to follow Google Maps to the destination.  I finally get to the museum at 3:30, an hour after leaving Shibuya Station.  It’s a long hot walk up and down hills to get to the museum, and I am soaked in sweat by the time I arrive!  How I hate this Tokyo weather!

Kawabata Ryūshi at The Yamatane Museum

The Yamantane Museum of Art is featuring an exhibit by Kawabata Ryūshi (川端 龍子, June 6, 1885 – April 10, 1966).  The artist’s name was the pseudonym of a Japanese painter in the Nihonga style, active during the Taishō  (July 30, 1912 – December 25, 1926) and the Shōwa (December 25, 1926 – January 7, 1989) eras. His real name was Kawabata Shotarō.

While working as a magazine illustrator, Kawabata Shotarō studied Western-style painting at various studios.  In 1913, he traveled to America.  After returning to Japan, he switched to creating Nihonga.  The Nihonga style refers to paintings that have been made following traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and materials, according to Wikipedia: Nihonga.

He became an advocate of art created for large public spaces and his works stood out for their immense, dynamically charged expression.  In 1959, he was designated a Person of Cultural Merit and awarded the Order of Culture.

Yamatane Museum

I am interested to find out that in 1950, after the death of his wife and son, Kawabata Ryūshi went on the 88-temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, something I want to do sometime.  He took a total of six years to make the circuit, sketching extensively along the way. I don’t plan to take that long to do the pilgrimage, if I’m able to do it! 🙂

As is usually the case in Japanese museums, visitors are not allowed to take photographs. The only photo that is allowed is of this panel, Pearl Divers, painted by the artist.  You can see some of the artist’s work on this link: Kawabata Ryūshi.  Also, I bought several postcards from the museum and took pictures of those, shown below.

Pearl Divers, Kawabata Ryūshi

Pearl Divers, Kawabata Ryūshi

Ryūshi was known for his love of family, his devotion to Buddhism, and his passion for haiku poetry. He composed haiku, one verse a day, throughout his life.

Three cranes by Kawabata Ryūshi

Japanese Irises by Kawabata Ryūshi

Bomb Exploding by Kawabata Ryūshi

After spending a half hour at the rather small exhibit, I make my way back to Shibuya, where I’ll take the train home. At Shibuya Station, I still don’t see the famous Hachikō statue, but I do find this mural of the legendary loyal dog.

Hachikō the dog was a golden brown male Akita Inu (a Japanese breed from the mountains of northern Japan) who arrived every afternoon at Shibuya Station to wait for the return of his master, Professor Hidesaburo Ueno. This pattern went on for just over a year, until one May day in 1925, the Professor suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while away at work and died. Each day, for the next nine years, nine months and fifteen days, Hachikō awaited Ueno’s return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station. Over these nine years, the fame of Hachikō grew with several articles in the newspapers (GoJapanGo.com: Hachiko Statue and Wikipedia: Hachikō).

Hachikō mural at Shibuya Station

The story of Hachikō is often told as an example of great loyalty.  The story of Hachikō has also been told in the British-American drama film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale in 2009, which starred Richard Gere, Joan Allen and Sarah Roemer. This film was remake of the Japanese film, Hachikō, released in 1987.

Hachikō mural at Shibuya Station

Hachikō mural at Shibuya Station

Two hours after leaving Shibuya Station, I’m sitting at the bar at Dai Trattoria Pizzeria, enjoying a glass of chilled white wine, a pizza, and the cool air conditioning. 🙂

Dai

Dai

Tomorrow, I’m excited because I finally get to spend the day with my Instagram friend Yukie.  This will be the first and only time I will meet her in Japan, but I do hope to meet her some other time in the future!

Total steps today: 16,955 (7.19 miles).

 

tokyo: the quirky neighborhood of shimo-kitazawa   2 comments

Saturday, July 15:  As my time in Japan is winding down, I’m slowly but surely marking places off my go-to list.  This hot summer Saturday, I’ll cross off two places, the neighborhood of Shimo-kitazawa and the Yamatane Museum; the museum features an exhibit by Japanese artist Kawabata Ryushi. I’ve decided I’m going to try to do one museum during each of my remaining outings, the main reason being to escape from the heat and humidity into an air-conditioned environment, at least for part of the day.

Shimo-kitazawa is a bohemian neighborhood of narrow streets that has been a favorite hang-out for students, musicians and artists. Although there is an active underground bar, music and theater scene, I’m interested mainly in the quirky boutiques, secondhand shops, and cafes. It turns out I am surprised by the colorful street art and delightful vibe of the neighborhood.

Shimo-kitazawa

It seems I’m always arriving in places right around lunchtime, so I immediately begin looking for a place to eat.  I’m not in a rush, as it’s only 11:40, so I can wait until the right place calls to me.

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

One of the nicest attributes of Shimo-kitazawa is its lack of cars. Despite being on the intersection of two major train lines, there are no proper roads – only narrow lanes barely wide enough to drive down.  Riding bicycles and walking are the main modes of transportation.

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

At a few minutes after noon, I stop into a small family restaurant where the woman speaks perfect English.  I order a salad, asparagus soup, and fresh bread.  It’s also a nice escape from Tokyo’s relentless heat.

lunch stop

After lunch and feeling refreshed, I continue on my merry way through the colorful streets.

Shimo-kitazawa

fashionable street art in Shimo-kitazawa

I love the street art, the funky store windows, the laundry hanging on balconies, and the container gardens I pass in the neighborhood.

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

In one area of Shimo-kitazawa, I stop in at several women’s clothing boutiques, where I buy a couple of cute tops. 🙂  Now my bag is heavier, and I have more places to go!

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Shimo-kitazawa

Always drawn to vibrant colors, I find myself enticed by a wild sticker-covered table sitting outside of a shop called B-side Label; the entire shops sells stickers.

sticker shop in Shimo-kitazawa

sticker shop in Shimo-kitazawa

The salesgirls are easy-going and welcoming and I ask them if I can take pictures of the stickers.  They’re quite expensive but very cool.  For example, there is a sticker of Tokyo Tower shown in different colors, at sunrise, mid-day, sunset and night-time.  Each sticker has several different versions.  Besides the vast array of fun stickers, the shop offers respite from the heat, so I linger for some time.  I find souvenir stickers of Tokyo sights, plus I get stickers for my three children, based on their interests (food, exercise and surfing).  In the end, I spend about 2,120 yen ($19.50) on stickers, which luckily don’t add any weight to my bag. 🙂

Just before getting on the metro, I see this pretty flower shop.  If I lived permanently in Japan, I’d love to live in this neighborhood and take home a potted plant, even though I’d probably kill it before long (I usually do, quite by accident). 🙂

Flower shop in Shimo-kitazawa

I get on the metro at Shimo-kitazawa Station heading to Shibuya.  Then I’ll change to the Yamanote line to Ebisu Station; from there I’ll walk to the Yamatane Museum. Little do I know how hot and exhausted I’ll be after that! 🙂

 

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