Truthfully, I am partial to small/quirky/cozy museums and this was quite different… an expansive modern building with many many halls of exhibits (but only some were photo friendly) including (as i recall):
Impressional/post impressionist/modern art (Picasso, Chagall, Toulouse-Latrec, Klee, Munch et al)
Installation of an urban lonely-ish bar street corner complete with sound
An exhibit/installation involving various nets and recycled materials
Various giant friendly bears
A capsule hotel segment
Art made from packing/duct tape by (as I understand it a fellow who works as a custodian on site)
Another hall of modernist art (Pollock, Dali, Miro…)
A few other installation rooms (a rather disorienting as was the purpose)
An incredible collection by an art benefactor of her magazines, prints, brochures, books and what not
A collection of 20th century chairs and posters (not about chairs), like high design chairs you *must not* sit upon these chairs (they are not comfortable and on display) – showing the great print / industrial design sense of modern Japan
And (my favourite) a collection of items given to a Japanese poet, art critic, artist Shuzo Takiguchi by his other artist friends (like a load of big timers and worldwide interesting cats), all “bric a brać” and seemingly simple one-off creations and sorta – at-first-glance – rather “nonsensical except for the source” items (seemed like was going into my head/archive, exhibit was called “Shop of Objects” or “Notes about things”
Another permanent collection from a benefactor couple called Goldberg
Also a ‘hands-on” Atelier area, a library, and long halls of upcoming and legacy items (including interactive panels)
As usual, purchased a museum/exhibit guide at the gift shop as well as other postcards and artefacts but really it was quite overwhelming and required some fresh air and a café visit at the end.
I mean besides mentioned already, in the collection were Henry Moore, Jasper Johns, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn x4, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp… goes on and on… plus loads of contemporary-ish Japanese artists i wasn’t familiar with so was great to see *not the usual classic Japanese art* styles.
Especially interesting a Japanese-French painter called Tsuguhara Foujita (aka Léonard Foujita) with “Two Nudes” from 1929 made me curious about how he came to be there and who he collaborated with.
Though I have the exhibit guidebook, I am not going to annotate all these photos, just let them flow, gently assembled. [Update: went out to the archive and pulled out the “Selected Works from the Collection”book, so heaven help me, gonna add notes where i can… oh geez, even looked up the exhibits from 2019], on we go:
Aside note: the guide book shows the staff uniforms for Spring 2019 were designed by Issey Miyake (who at this writing in Summer 2022, has recently passed away with a legacy of importancy and acclaim).
Note: Fascinated with era of Japan (forgotten in between the epic Meiji Restoration and industrialization and the militaristic/imperial period leading up to the Asian/Pacific etc. war / working on finding more books and films exploring this “forgotten” time (started with Naomi by Tanazaki)
The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan’s masses via The Japan Times, July 29, 2012, by Michael Hoffman
One hundred years ago this week — on July 30, 1912 — Emperor Meiji passed away and Japan, traveling blind and hardly knowing where it was going, entered a new age.
The Taisho Era (1912-26), sandwiched between the boldly modernizing Meiji Era (1867-1912) and the militarist tide of early Showa (1926-1989), deserves more recognition than it gets.
Taisho is Japan’s Jazz Age. Can it be summed up in a phrase? It often is: ero-guro-nansensu — eroticism, grotesquerie, nonsense.
All three filled the air. Was Taisho, then, mere frivolity? To cite only the plainest evidence to the contrary: World War I; the 1918 Rice Riots; “Taisho Democracy;” the founding in 1922 of the Japan Communist Party; the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923; the granting of universal manhood suffrage in 1925; and the repressive Peace Preservation Law passed barely two months later.
As such, while visiting with Hongo-sensei on Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa-ken, amongst the other activities including a fishing/ whaling/Marine Museum, an early morning fish market / auction, the dismembering and preparation of an ankou fish, a picnic on the beach…, we visited Miwakai ruins with well-preserved archeological history from the Jomon period.
While obviously not original, there was a great recreation of Jomon-era housing with fire-pit and various accruements.
the time in Japanese prehistory, traditionally dated between c. 14,000–300 BCE, during which Japan was inhabited by a diverse hunter-gatherer and early agriculturalist population united through a common Jōmon culture, which reached a considerable degree of sedentism and cultural complexity
The museum building was very interesting and both shape and contrast to the contents which were rustic pottery, natural building materials and organic art whereas the structure was a brick cylinder with various halls attached.
And, along the way, made a top at a remarkable “scenic waystation” in Niigate-ken which commemorated a unique piece of Japan geography which (in brief): in olden times posed an incredible challenge to pass from one region to the other because of steep mountains and minimal coastline/headlands.
As such, travellers *could* risk going right along the coast at low tide but the distance was too great to travel without getting swept out to sea,. Later, a variety of pathways were constructed along the side of the mountain, rather treacherous to say the least, especially when carrying cargo. The area, now popular for hiking and exploring also showed evidence of pedestrian tunnels and other engineering marvels.
As “modern times” came along, new roads were built including the highway now clearly visible built on pilings high above the sea and skirting the coast line. Driving along it later was quite a ride, felt like a playland attraction of sorts as we “levitated” after the crashing waves of the Sea of Japan as well as going through extensive modern tunnels.
This esteemed gentleman was largely the driving force for introducing the concept of Zen Buddhism to the “west” in contemporary times. He spoke several languages and traveled widely, certainly influencing notable figures as Alan Watts and Gary Snyder and possibly you.
The museum is a modern, rendered concrete designed by Yoshio Taniguchi largely assembled rectangles with a water courtyard with large windows playing with light against the garden.
As one might expect, lots of space for contemplation throughout the buildings, long empty hallways, simple signage, a few large pictures and wonderful scrolls.
Primary aims were to visit friends, stay at all manner of accommodations and see loads of museums, especially, spontaneous, small-ish and quirky if possible.
As such, in the town of Obuse, Nagano-ken, we made a stop at a museum for the famous print block artist, Hokusai. His name may not be as recognizable as his work (yup, that big wave from the “37 views of Mt Fuji” series) the museum (current exhibit anyhow) didn’t really pack in the well-know pieces but rather focused on his work making soerta pre-cursors to manga comics with endless “clip art” doodles, characters and life shape studies.
The museum wasn’t “photo friendly” (that’s fine) but including a few atmospheric snaps to recall that “yes, we went here”. As usual loaded up at the gift shop (so many postcards and books!). Pardons for underwhelming post (we did get tasty dessert afterwards nearby)
Field Notesregarding exhibit/museum/gallery/garden dossiers:
These posts, such as they are, are for recollection, inspiration, reference and possible remixing. I say this to remind myself these round-ups are not meant to be textbooks, comprehensive guides, analysis – critical or otherwise, or a “master’s thesis”. So much goodness in these exhibits – whether grand and well-funded museums or (my favourite) grassroots operations, or even spontaneous art around the edges in unexpected circumstances – that i enjoy archiving.
Also noting often, museums have a “no photo” policy and of course, art and artifacts are best experienced in-person, or with fine reproductions at least, so consider my humble dossirs as a stand-in, in the meanwhile, with a special eye to shut-ins and other who have a hard time getting out and about.
As such, these round-ups will be lightly annotated with usually (just) the name of the museum, possible circumstance and/or approximate date of the visit, possible link to museum website and or map for your reference and then a flow of photos.
I almost always buy museum exhibit books, as well as many other items from the gift shop, so if you have any specific questions about any of the pieces displayed, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to add some additional colour commentary – no guarantees.
Basics about Shinse Kinenkan:
This culture and folk art museum in Kanazawa, Ishikawa-ken (visited on our Shinkonryoko Ramble in May/June 2019) was wonderfully charming. Notably, was inexpensive (came with commemorative ticket) with cozy/comfortable feeling coming from a real community effort with volunteers on hand. The neighbourhood around was exceptional with loads of small museums, teahouses and historic lane ways to wander (additional stops referenced below), and much less hectic compared to “the old capital” :).
The first floor features the re-created apothecary of a traditional Japanese/Chinese pharmacy (as such, special dedication to my dear friend TCM Dr. Trevor) plus, in the back, a tearoom where Basho the haiku poem visited (dude was everywhere) and other rooms filled with handicrafts. The upstairs more art and artefacts from the historic neighbourhood in Kanazawa.
A rollicking rapid-fire, mixed-media introduction to The Beat Generation – made especially for youth (specifically, a 11th grade lit class at a DoD base school) – with topics including:
what made The Beats, the beats (ergo: time, place, circumstance, intentions, global mindset, searching for “holy”)
characteristics of style (freeverse, spontaneous prose, collaboration, diversity, art + craft + integrity)
notable writers and characters including: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg William S. Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Neal Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
roots and branches extending from the Beats like: Merry Pranksters, folkies, hippies, yippies, punks, DIY and even “digital nomads”
riffs about censorship, “obscenity” trials, sexuality, religiosity
call to action about the importance everyone with something to say “saying it” – including YOU
plus more notable writers: Gregory Corso, Richard Brautigan, Ruth Weiss, Diane DiParma & currently working Ron Whitehead and Anne Waldman
namechecks and cameos for: The Clash, Tom Waits, Jello Biafra, Ken Kesey, Wang Ping, Masa Uehara, Nanao Sakaki many more…
Presented from a historic barn in provincial Japan with vinyl records, artifacts, ephemera, loads of books, postcards etc – by storymaker Dave Olson who invites you to ask questions via postcard (address included within).