Monday, January 29, 2007

A day in Ueno

Today I went to Ueno Ueno is known by locals as the place where the Shogun tried to resist the new (at the time) Meiji government. Today, it's a great park lined by museums, statues and lakes. When you get off the train you immediately find yourself at the base of a huge statue of a dude with a dog on a leash. The guy's name was Saigo Takamori, he was probably the character that the main Japanese character played in the Last Samurai. In front of the statue, it turned out, was a nationalist spewing nationalist propaganda... which apparently will become more common as the election nears. Luckily, I was able to take pictures around him. After a walk through the park I eventually arrived at the Japanese National Museum. During my stroll I saw a number of temples. Interestingly some were Shinto and others were Buddhist. The Buddhist temple's architecture was very interesting.

The Museum was interesting and inexpensive (about 4 dollars). The museum includes a number of buildings, built at different times and with different architecture. Each building houses a different genre. I only looked through the main building. A travel book described this main building as a good introduction to Japanese art and History (including a scultpture by Rodin caled 'Eva')... so i figured it was a good place to start. The museum was great and was indeed a nice introduction. Also appealing was the fact that many of the signs were in English. What struck me as I perused the halls was the different mediums on which the Japanese painted and drew. Paper and cloth seemed much more prevalent than in the US and Europe. By far, the coolest part of the Museum was the swords. After a full day of Japanese history and art and culture, I figured nice Italian meal was in order. So for dinner I came back to my home in Gotanda and has some gnocchi with cream sauce and some white wine.

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