Monday, August 20, 2007

Neon lights of Shibuya!

It's been a few days since the last post. Are you wondering what we have been doing? Sight seeing has been our game. Well, attempting to.
The National Art Center of Tokyo was recently open in January of 2007. This is the first art institution that does not maintain a permanent collection. It rather focuses on serving as a venue for various art exhibitions. At the time of our visit, the main exhibition was The 100th Anniversary of NITTEN. The major works of art were of Nihonga (Japanese-style painting), Yoga (Western-style painting), sculptures, crafts, and calligraphy. It traced the history of the trends and achievements in Japanese modern art over the past century. Jay and I were impressed with this exhibit. However, we were more in amazement with the architecture of the building. The lobby atrium features a 21.6 meters high ceiling and an undulated glass facade. It controls the amount of solar heat and ultra violent rays entering the building. Not only did we have a lovely afternoon appreciating the works of art. We also had a fabulous time having coffee and dessert at a cafe overlooking the heart of Tokyo.
The Musee Tomo is one of Tokyo's most elegant and tasteful museums. It features works of art from Kikuchi Tomo, who focuses on contemporary Japanese ceramics. However, we were unable to see her beautiful masterpieces, because we never found the building. We searched for at least an hour and went home due to exhaustion. Hopefully, we will venture out to find this museum again.
Step out of the Shibuya Station onto Hachiko Plaza, just after dark, and you are in the Tokyo of your dreams. The grand square is a spectacle in neon, streets that radiate out like a star burst, and the crowd is a mix of the up most elegance to adolescent punks. We scurried through the neon filled streets with our friend, Trevor, to his house. Two blocks away from the city, we were instantly in a quiet neighborhood where you could only hear insects mating with one another. Trevor welcomed us into his home, where we indulged in pizza and watched Lost In Translation. The movie was a perfect depiction of foreigners experiencing Tokyo. Constantly looking up in amazement at the neon lights and fighting the crowds of people, we made our way back to the Hachiko Plaza. Here, we learned about Hachiko the Dog Statue. A small Akita dog would come to this station every day to await his mater's return. One day the master died at work, but the dog continued to show up and wait at the station until his own death 10 years later. The Japanese built a statue in his honor for his faithfulness. This statue was surrounded by numerous people as I took a snapshot with Hachiko.
Spent the afternoon at the Ueno-Koen. This park has several names: its Sunday name, which no-one ever uses, is Ueno Onshi Koen; some locals dub it Ueno no Oyama (Ueno Mountain); and English speakers call it Ueno Park. Therefore, we called it Ueno Park. We walked up the huge stair way and contuined down a narrow road that follows a pond, Shi-nobazu-ike. Through the red gate, on an island in the pond, is Benten-do, a memorial to Benten, a patron goddess of the arts. We walked around the pond in amazement that such a beautiful, quiet place was centered in the heart of Tokyo. Continued with the walk and approached a baseball game. Then, we made our way to a playground pretending to be kids again. Walking around the narrow lit roads, we discussed this sanctuary and the beauty of being able to retreat from the busy streets of Tokyo. Through out the park, men and women slept on card board boxes. With this in mind, the park felt extremely safe. Spent numerous hours here and decided to roam the streets of Ueno. Once again, we were captivated by neon lights and bustling crowds of people.
Today, we slept in and Jay prepared for an interview. Who knows what the night will bring! Maybe, sake and sushi!


Anonymous said...

Japan looks amazing. Is Jay the tallest man in town?

Unknown said...

So cool. How did the interview go?

Unknown said...

BTW - More pics of Tokyo please. Downtown looks awesome.