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vagabonds3 "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness." Mark Twain

Tokyo National Museum

JAPAN | Thursday, 15 August 2019 | Views [146]

Tickets to Ride, Tokyo National Museum

Tickets to Ride, Tokyo National Museum

AFTER 32 DAYS ABOARD, HALF OF THEM AT SEA — plus the 3 weeks aboard in April —Maasdam felt almost like home, not that we would know what that "home" is.  Still, we gladly hopped on the train from Yokohama to Tokyo’s Ueno Station and found a taxi to take us to Hotel Forest Hongo in Bunkyo Ward.  The hotel is more out-of-the way than I planned.  I selected it because the room is huge for a Japanese hotel if only adequate by American standards.  It is in a quiet neighborhood right across from the University.  There are plenty of local restaurants and convenience stores nearby and a metro stop only 500 meters away.  Ironically, with all the electronics in Japan, our hotel has only a singe electrical outlet, something we were fortunately prepared for.


          Getting a charge out of life

Despite the nearby metro, the muggy weather and the crappy map, we decided to walk to the National Museum.  Can you say “We are lost” in Japanese?  Well it’s “Mayotchatta” and it’s spelled 迷っちゃった  We didn’t have to say it, though — we looked so forlorn that a Japanese couple stopped to help.  You know you’re in trouble when you point out on the map where you wan to go and they laugh!


     Putting us on the right track

I didn’t know diddly about Japan prior to that “date which will live in infamy” but after a visit to the Tokyo National Museum . . . I still don’t.  The Museum mixes history and art so everything feels so out of context.  I can’t find any reference points except for Buddhism.  


         The Buddha Room

But, hey, the artwork is both elegant and simple at the same time.  The calligraphy is artistic even without meaning.  The pottery and lacquerware are sublime.  

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            Paintings                                          Lacquer Box

Everyday implements are decorated as works of art.  

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And then there is netsuke.  What more to say?


After lunch as we walked past the Museum of Nature and Science, its life-size blue whale sculpture brought back memories of school trips to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and its blue whale suspended in the lobby.  The number of kids and toddlers running around makes me wonder about reports of Japan’s aging population.  BTW, while many held dripping ice cream cones, none of them had a cellphone or a video game.  Not a one.


        Kids, ice cream and a blue whale.

We were headed to the Museum of Western Art, not so much for what was inside but because the building, designed by French architect Le Corbusier, is a World Heritage Site.  Well, IMHO it isn’t much to look at — a concrete block with windows — and I suspect the WHS status is more about the architect than the building.  Le Corbusier worked with Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and influenced Oscar Niemeyer, designer of Brasilia with whom he co-designed UN headquarters in NYC and is credited with bringing modern European architecture to Japan.  We would have gone inside except for the long lines on this Japanese Obon holiday.

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   Museum of Western Art                    World Heritage Site

It was easier to find our way back home.  What took 1½ hours going only required thirty minutes returning and all together we walked more than seven miles.  Time for a Coke Zero!



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John and Connie, Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

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