A Great Week in Tokyo

I had one Sogetsu Ikebana class on Monday morning and the rest of the week off. A nice change of pace. I liked being an observer rather than the creator. I spent the time taking in art exhibits, city views from high up, exploring various neighborhoods, revisiting old haunts, eating in some wicked-awesome restaurants and enjoying quiet moments at home.

Nezu Museum Garden

I started by revisiting the Nezu Museum in a gorgeous building and garden setting designed by architect Kengo Kuma. It houses an extensive collection of Japanese and East Asian art in various genres. The current exhibit features sword fittings of the Mitsumura collection—wondrously intricate works. Equally delightful are the surrounding gardens, now arrestingly brilliant in their autumnal hues.

Nezu Museum Garden View

The next day it was off to Tokyo City View, the observation deck of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower and the Mori Art Museum.

Tokyo Tower viewed from Mori Tower

During the circumnavigation of the observation deck, I immediately recognized my Tokyo neighbourhood. The long avenue of Ginkgo trees, Aoyama cemetery, the tennis courts, ball fields and tall building in front of my Tokyo apartment.

My apartment looks at the back of this building.

The Mori Art Museum currently features the largest solo exhibition of Leandro Erlich’s work to date—Seeing and Believing—which runs until April 1, 2018.

Boats (not floating on water)

I don’t suppose that end date is accidental, though I didn’t ask. Whether intentional or not, it’s perfect. Every installation challenges the viewer’s perception of very ordinary views in brilliant and engaging ways. In an era of constant fake news and manipulated images it’s highly relevant to be reminded of how easily and willingly the eye and the mind can be duped and misled.

A faux selfie looking into an Erlich installation

Another day I enjoyed poking around Yanaka Ginza with DK, a friend who was in the city over the weekend for a concert. The neighbourhood, established in the Edo period, escaped the razing of WWII and past earthquakes. As a result, many old buildings, temples and street configurations of the shopping streets remain as they were.

Mitsuaki Tsuyuki’s handcrafted puppets

One highlight of the Yanaka afternoon was a performance by Mitsuaki Tsuyuki. He creates original hand puppets in his Shokichi workshop, and throughout the day offers half-hour presentations of great charm.

Mitsuaki Tsuyuki in front of his Shokichi studio

His performance to a song suddenly brought to mind something I’d long forgotten. For a Grade 12 German class assignment I built a puppet theater complete with lighting and performed German folk songs with hand puppets I crafted myself. Watching Tsuyuki’s performance I realized how remarkable that had been. Nothing had ever prompted me to understand that effort (something I dismissed as trivial) as art. Who knew? I suppose that might merit some reconsideration.

Sonomitsu Shoe Gallery

We also stumbled into Sonomitsu an amazing gallery-style shop showcasing hand made, bespoke boots and shoes.

Sigh. Lust can be utterly divine.

After that a stroll through Ueno Koen (park) and peeking in at the Iga Ueno Ninja Festa 2017 where acrobatic performances entertained the attendees. In addition, anything and everything Ninja was on display and for sale.

When DK’s plans for the following afternoon fell through mid-afternoon, we decided to take in the Feel! Glass exhibit in Omotesando Hills.

There, in a largely interactive format, AGC Asahi Glass showcased various works first unveiled between 2015 and 2017 at Milano Design Week.

Alas, this overview of one of the world’s chief innovators in glass, chemical and high-tech material manufacturing was all in Japanese which limited my ability to understand the 110-year history and future prospects in the industry.

Sadly, I must say the same of an incredible exhibit of Australian Aboriginal paintings I stumbled into at Mitsukoshi Ginza department store earlier in the week. No translation, no website. Nada. That’s not to say I can’t be deeply moved by things I can’t access with language; however, it’s infinitely more gratifying when I can.

Of course, and more happily, between all this viewing there was a good deal of nosing and noshing in places high and low. Some of those highlights will be coming soon.

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2 Responses to A Great Week in Tokyo

  1. Pat says:

    Hi Lynda,
    I will try again – time lapsed in my previous response and then my message was gone!
    You capture your moments of time in Japan’s history so well: flower arranging, the sites, sounds and visuals of a true knowledge seeker discovering…all that awaits you in the country and surroundings that mean so much to you. I enjoyed your photos (like the one of your reflection in the glass) although trying to understand the backbone of the finer artistic abilities and qualities of Ikebana – oh my!
    Enjoy your week ahead and I’ll be thinking of you and your sensei!…/Pat

    • Lynda Philippsen says:

      Thank you, Pat. I truly appreciate your comments. Being here is like being at a giant smorgasbord. Knowing that I can’t absorb it all I hardly know where to begin.

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