Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ainu Museum

After finding our hotel and getting dinner and a good sleep, we spent most of the next day at the Ainu Museum Poroto Kotan, Shiraoi District in Hokkaido Prefecture. A formidable title for an engaging and interesting folk museum! We were greeted by this impressive statue, probably about 30 feet tall, of an Ainu elder.

We were just in time for a lively presentation by this fellow, accompanied by folk dancing and singing by his colleagues. The program was in Japanese, with translation into Chinese (there were many Chinese tourists throughout our Japan trip), but we got the gist thanks to Haruko, our daughter-in-law's mother, who whispered explanations. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Monsters on Hokkaido

Virtually the first thing we noticed after arriving at the Noboribetsu train station in Hokkaido was this status of a demon on the edge of the parking lot. The second statue was at the entry drive of our hotel at Noboribetsu Hot Springs. A search of Google and Wikipedia reveals that they are called "Oni", and are found throughout traditional Japanese folklore, not just in Hokkaido.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Waiting to Board the Bullet Train

On July 25 we returned to the Tokyo Station to board the Shinkansen Bullet Train for Hokkaido. First we, along with lots of other passengers, had to  buy bento boxes for lunch on the train.

Then we went to the platform to wait for the train. Notice how neatly everyone waits within the lines.

When the Bullet Train arrived (precisely on time), passengers disembarked and the cleaning crew, in puzzling semi-Hawaiian outfits, boarded to clean the coaches. When the cleaning was finished and the cleaners exited, they bowed to the train as it moved slightly to adjust its position. We then got on and the train left for Hokkaido (precisely on time).

I just noticed this puzzling reflection photo when preparing this post. The waiting passengers appear to be both outside and within the coach.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Takashimaya Shinjuku Station

Takashimaya is one of the finest department stores in the world. It's always fun to wander its departments and admire the colorful displays. From the Shinjuku Station web site: "Takashimaya is a renowned Japanese department store chain that traces its history to the opening of a small kimono shop in Kyoto in 1831, and has a large outlet on the south side of Shinjuku Station."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

More Tokyo Subway Scenes

Whether it's crowds or individuals, subways are fun places for candid photography.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Old Tokyo Station

We went with Haruko to Tokyo Station, to get familiar with how to find the bullet train Shinkansen line that will take us to Hokkaido in a couple of days. It's the busiest station in Japan, with more than 3,000 departures a day, and of course is very modern. Surprisingly, however, its western facade and entry are the originals (rebuilt after WWII) from 1914.

Tokyo Station is also a big bus terminal, so — it being a rainy afternoon — we decided to take a bus tour of Tokyo Bay, which has been undergoing substantial redevelopment - some of it in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games. I was unable to get many decent photos, given the speeding bus and the rain, but this one of a multi-story golf driving practice facility was interesting. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Subway Sculpture

Structural forms seen going to the track and waiting for the train on the Yamanote Line in the Tokyo subway.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Meiji Wine and Sake

Near the center of the Meijii Shrine are barrels of fine French wine and sake. The accompanying posters explain how they were donated to honor the modernizing, westernizing spirit of the Meiji Emperor and his consort. The Burgundy wine must be well aged by now, but the sake is apparently replenished every year.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Meiji Shrine

Just on the other side of the Harajuku station and tracks is the the Meiji Jingu, the Shinto shrine that was dedicated in 1920 to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. It is entered through a large and impressive torii gate, whose solemnity is somewhat diminished by the crowds of tourists passing through and taking selfies. But inside, the woods and bamboo fencing provide a peaceful respite from the Harajuku neighborhood.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Real Expressionist Art in Harajuku

Just down the hill from Takeshita Street and across the main road, a side street hides a very interesting gallery and cafe, Design Festa Gallery. (Free admission and free wi-fi.) In addition to the paintings on temporary display, there is a striking collection of large wall paintings and murals.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sales Girls

Takeshita Street is there to sell things, and pretty girls are always persuasive.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art on Takeshita Street

Some of the graffiti and displays on Takeshita Street reminded me of the paintings of artists like Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, and Andy Warhol.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Takeshita Street

The focus in this post is on small groups of young people on Takeshita Street in Harajuku, enjoying their Saturday off from school. There's a humorous carnival atmosphere, but also a good bit of suggestive advertising.