Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nezu Museum, Tokyo

A small street-corner shrine, Prada and Chloe shops, a modern museum and a hidden garden - this must be Minami-Aoyama street. An array of up-market designer clothes shops punctuated by a local shrine (with a Pomegranate tree) and a busy junior school terminates at the wonderfully modern building of the Nezu Museum of Art and its beautiful hidden garden - truly a street of contrasts. Stepping off the main street into the sanctuary of the small shrine (above) was an unexpectedly calming experience you'd stepped into another, less hurried, time and place.
Within yards of this Shrine were the ultra modern fashion temples of Prada (left) and Chloe (below), I declined the opportunity to enter either.

For me the object of being in the area was visiting the Nezu Museum of Art which was showing 'Living on Paper: Daily life as expressed by Japanese Medieval and Pre-Modern painters'.
Even the entrance way to the museum (below) is a delight with its tiny garden and long bamboo lined walkway. Inside the displays were minimal but of the highest quality, although it did take me a while to get used to seeing breakables such as ceramic statues tied down in every direction to prevent damage during earthquakes. The Paper exhibition was very enlightening; the scrolls, hangings and screens so often seen in books or museums in the West usually depict the lives of nobles or scenes of natural beauty, to see daily life portrayed as something to be celebrated was fascinating.

For me the most wonderful surprise was the vast garden hidden behind the museum building. Although we'd missed the best of the autumn colour we were lucky enough to catch the tail of it.
The carefully manicured conifers,

reds of the acer leaves,

autumn flowering camelias,


and bamboo groves combined to make this a dream visit for me.

It was whilst enjoying lunch in the contemporary glass 'Tea-House'
that I experienced my first earth tremor; a gentle swaying of the table confirmed what my ears were telling me, the earth was definitely moving! This was confirmed by the bronze cauldron outside where some of the carefully arranged leaves had been washed onto the lip of the vessel which had been dry and leaf free when we entered. The Japanese didn't seem to register the event - evidently too minor to bother about.

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