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att. Culture - Tokyo Museum Walk
att. Culture - Tokyo Museum Walk
att.JAPAN Issue 13, August 2003

Tokyo Museum Walk

Tokyo is praised as a city with a diversity of museums. There's always something new from all over the world on exhibit. Also explore the roots of the Orient and this nation. Walk with us.

 Autumn - The Season for the Arts
In Japan, there are various ways to express the fall season. 'appetizing autumn' ("shokuyoku no aki"); 'autumn, the season for sports' ("supo-tsu no aki"); 'autumn of high heavens and a fat horse' ("tentakaku uma koyuru aki" - describes the change from humid overcast summer to autumn, when the sky seems to extend higher in lack of cloud cover, and how long summer grazing in the pastures has fattened up the livestock; likewise, ideal summer conditions have made way for prosperity and fruitful harvests who's results continue to be seen well into the fall); then there's 'autumn, a time of fruitful harvest' ("minori no aki"); and 'autumn, the season for reading' ("dokusho no aki"). And then there is 'autumn, the season for the arts' ("geijutsu no aki"). It's easy-living in this season, and so this season is ideal for getting lost in meditation with art appreciation, criticism, or even making your own works. How about a museum walk on a crisp autumn day?

 Ueno, Nezu, Yanaka, Sendagi, Nippori - Here We Come.
Tokyo National Museum Heading to Ueno Park from Ueno Station, Koen Park Exit, you'll find that not long after walking through the park entrance, you have reached the National Museum of Western Art. This museum's specialty is, of course, Western works of art. It was established in 1959 with the Matsukata Collection. Works from successful and popular artists from the end of the Middle Ages up till the end of the nineteenth century, including sculptures by Rodin, are displayed in the museum's Le Corbusier motif main hall. The New Wing (Shin-kan) is centered on French paintings from the mid-nineteenth century up until the start of the twentieth century. Post-World War II paintings are also on display. From Saturday, September thirteenth to Sunday, December fourteenth, they will be showing "Renburanto-ha - Seisho, Shinwa, to Monogatari" ("Rembrandt - The Bible, Mythology, and Story Telling").
Next, we turn our steps to the Tokyo National Museum. Opened in 1872 (the fifth year of the Meiji Era), this museum prides itself as the nation's oldest and largest scale museum. It has come to hold some hundred-thousand works: about twenty-five hundred categorized and displayed pieces of artwork (sculptures, writtings, and paintings), including six-hundred sixteen 'important cultural properties,' clay, haniwa, and bronze vessels, ninety-one national treasures and other ancient Oriental and Japanese works of antiquity.
Spend an entire unhurried day on its spacious premises, where you can also find restaurants and a museum shop. With this being the 400th anniversary of the start of the Edo Period, the opening of the "Tokugawa Government and Commoners" ("Bakufu to Cho-nin") display. This Edo-themed display was designed to give an introduction to all aspects of the Edo Period, from lifestyle and mannerisms to historical data and folkways.
Ueno Zoological Gardens When viewing this mass of art work has burned you out, take a saunter through Ueno Park. This park extends from just outside of Ueno Station's Koen Park Exit to the west area of Uguisudani Station and was originally the premises of Kanei-ji Temple. One of the most popular cherry viewing hot spots in Tokyo, the spring season brings on an exuberance of blooms from the someiyoshino cherry and yamazakura (mountain cherry), while winter time finds Shinobazu Pond teaming with flocks of migratory birds. With other attractions in the area including Ueno Zoological Gardens, The National Science Museum, and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the sweet smell of culture and knowledge fills the air in Ueno, as it does in Nezu, Sendagi, and Yanaka. These areas give off the old-town emotion and flavor left over from ancient Edo.
As we near Nippori Station, let's swing by Asakura Choso Museum ('sculpture museum'). Here, we can find the residence turned hand-made studio of sculptor, Fumio Asakura. The main part is the studio wing of Western construction in reinforced concrete, and the living quarters are in bamboo motif, sukiya style Japanese construction. A view upon the inner garden from the second floor parlor is quite a sight.
At Nishi Nippori you could eat sweet rice dumplings (dango) while checking out the collection of notes and papers from famous poets and writers like Shiki Masaoka and Soseki Natsume, including such writings as "Habutae Dango." If your stomach starts to growl for more, take your feet to Sendagi's "Sushi Noike" for some fresh conger eel sushi, or to Nezu's "Hantei."

 Meguro to Ebisu
Let us now venture out to the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum (Tokyo-to Teien Bijutsu-kan) - just take JR Yamanote to Meguro Station. In 1933, the great residence of an Asaka imperial family court noble was built here. It was then opened to the public, and later, during the last half of the 1900's, reincarnated as an art museum. The building in itself is valuable as a work of art. The harmony between the building's natural character and the works of art it displays make for ideal conditions to revel in all-out art appreciation. Completely surrounded by garden greenery, visitors are blessed with a mixture of nature, architecture, and museum-quality artwork.
A hop, skip, and jump from Teien Art Museum, and seven minutes from Ebisu Station, is Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Tokyo-to Shashin Bijutsu-kan). This comprehensive museum, centered on photography and film, opened in 1995. It builds on the best of Japanese photography and film culture in exhibition form. Inside, start at one of three exhibition rooms. They are equipped with just a few snaps in this gigantic world of photographs and films we exist in, with museum-type facilities.
Platinum Road In the center of a concrete jungle, 'Platinum Forest National Ecological Garden' ("Shirogane no Mori - Kokuritsu Shizen Kyoiku-en") is a belt of refreshing green that passes down the relics of Musashino, the ancient pristine Eden of Edo. It's a wood made up of unpruned trees, kept in their natural state. Blue sky peeks out through the gaps in the trees. Chirping birds and screeching insects are its voice. Walk through these lushly covered woods and botanical garden of sorts, and suddenly the sunshine opens up to a vast botanical paradise - a thriving lake and marsh.
Wonder out to Gaien Nishi Dori and it's a completely different story. Known as 'Platinum Road' (Purachina Dori), stylish boutiques and restaurants line the walkways. It is a street that vents posshness to the brim, and bustles with civil and sophisticated adults. Up to your neck in trekking? Sit it out to a cool or hot cup of joe or green tea at a tastey cafe.

 Aoyama to Roppongi
From Eidan Omotesando Subway Station, walk over to Nezu Institute of Fine Arts. Walk along this Omotesandian street on the way to the museum, and you'll soon discover, it's also decked out with fashion shopping - high class brand names and boutiques that make for a delightful little stroll.
Nezu Institute of Fine Arts was founded in 1940. The following year, it was open to the public. Oriental works of art, including seven national jewels, eighty-one important cultural properties, and ninety-nine great works of art are kept here. Utensils for tea pereparation and Buddhist-related works fill its displays. Also notable are its Shangzhou Dynasty Chinese bronze ware. On a schedule, museum exhibitions rotate and change. There is also a built-in museum shop that provides original goods. After snooping around its gardens, drop into the Museum Cafe, "Gazebo," to come up for air with a set of matcha (thick and bubbly green tea made from fresh leaf buds) and wagashi (traditional sweets).
Alas, we take our feet to our last museum walk destination, Roppongi Hills, Roppongi's newest sub-shpere of a town. Mori Art Museum, to open October eighteenth, 2003, is up in Mori Tower's fifty-second and fifty-third floors. To be centered on modern art, exhibitions will be open for viewing into the late evening. This is modern art, productions through such media as film, photography, and architectural design with the country's first ever foreign art museum curator, Mr. David Elliott. The museum plans to hold its opening exhibition from October eighteenth, 2003 to January eighteenth, 2004.

 Tokyo Museum 'Grutt Pass'
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum Incidentally, 2003 marks the four-hundredth year of Edo/Tokyo's first Shogunate (meaning Tokyo's first leader and first year as the nation's capital). Events and special offers in commemoration of this anniversary can be seen all over Tokyo. One is the recent release of the Tokyo Museum Grutt Pass. Thirty-one participating Metropolitan Museums admit holders of this pass to their permanent exhibitions, and apparently, some zoos and aquariums also apply. The pass is on sale till the end of February, and is good for one month from your first museum visit with it. It goes for the low low price of just eighteen hundred yen. This is a must have for those thinking of taking their very own museum walk.

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