Thursday, July 28, 2005

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.

I first visited the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, (see the above photo) just after a week of its opening on October 9, 2004. Last Friday (July 22, 2005) I made the second visit there with my wife. The outermost walls of the first floor of this museum form a circle with a diameter of 112.5 m. This form makes it possible to explore the museum from all directions [1].

There we looked at two exhibitions: "Drawing Restraint: Matthew Barney" and "Another Story: Selected Works from the Collection." Barney's exhibition was the sum of his rather strange drawings (for example, a self-portrait drawn on the ceiling by jumping on a trampoline), sculptures, photographs and a film (expressing an abstract story suggesting a repeated rebirth and collapse by the use of images of whaling and the tea ceremony).

The purpose of "Another Story" was to show part of the diversity of the event, pattern of human perception and sense value in the world. I found Carsten Nicolai's work entitled "Milk" interesting. It consisted of 10 monochromatic photographs, which captured the surface patterns of milk in a tray shaken by different frequencies from 10 to 110 Hz. Soft hemispheres constituting the patterns singly or in aggregate made me think of the source of milk, i.e., breasts.

  1. Web site "21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa".

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Oldest Fountain in Japan

Japan's first fountain built in 1861.

The fountain in Kenroku Park (see the photo) is associated with a special memory of mine. One of my brothers, who was senior to me by six years and died at the age of 9, left an unfinished drawing of that fountain. I kept it until I was of the same age as he had been at his death. So, every time when I visit Kenroku Park these years, I go to see this fountain.

Last Friday, my wife and I passed through Kenroku Park to go to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, and saw that fountain on our way. I did not remember what was written on the bulletin board at the side of the fountain, but it reads as follows ("Kasumiga-ike" in the quotation is a large pond in Kenroku Park).
Fountain: Having been built in 1861, this is the oldest fountain in Japan. Its water source is Kasumiga-ike, and a head of water makes the height of jet about 3.5 m.
The above is my translation from Japanese words on the bulletin board; English words there simply read: "Funsui (Fountain); Japan's first fountain built in 1861."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ishikawa Gate

Ishikawa Gate.

I made a small trip to Kanazawa and Yamashiro Spa from the 21st to 23rd of July with my wife. On the first day in Kanazawa we visited our ancestors' graves on Mt. Noda and at temples in Tera-machi and No-machi.
Across just the inside of one of entrances, which we have been using, to the graveyard of Mt. Noda, the construction works of a wide car road were in progress. What will be the method of pedestrians' crossing over the road? At least some of the visitors to the graveyard would suffer much inconvenience.

In the morning of the second day we took a loop bus from the JR Kanazawa Station to an entrance of Kenroku Park. The entrance is near Ishikawa Gate (the photo) of Kanazawa Castle. We walked Kenroku Park a little and went to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.

The site of Kanazawa Castle was used by the army from 1871 to the end of the 2nd World War, and then by Kanazawa University from 1949. Ishikawa Gate, which was both the symbol of the destroyed castle and the entrance of the university, was designated as an important national cultural asset in 1950. However, the university campus moved out of the castle site during 1978 to 1995. After the completion of the relocation of the university, the castle site was rearranged to become the Kanazawa Castle Park [1]. Thus the bridge (Ishikawa-bashi) seen in the photo in front of Ishikawa Gate now connects the two parks, Kenroku Park and Kanazawa Castle Park.

Some more story of our trip will be described later.

  1. Kanazawa Castle Park.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Oldest Photo I Have

The image of the oldest photo I have is hsown here. It was taken in the spring of 1908 (the 41st year of Meiji) to send to the father (my grandfather) of the children in this photo on the occasion that three of the children entered new schools. My grandfather was on a long business trip of inspecting education systems in European countries.

From left in the front row: Misu (my grandmother, 39 years old), Chiyoko (my mother who was 6 years old and just entered the Elementary School Affiliated to Kanazawa Women's Normal School) and Fumiko (one of my aunts, 8 years old and in the 3rd year class at the same school as Chiyoko's). From left in the rear row: Toshibumi (my uncle who was 13 years old and just entered Kanazawa 2nd Middle School) and Yuki (one of my aunts who was 15 years old and just entered Kanazawa Women's Normal School). I have never met Yuki, because she died young. My mother used to call her Okinesan (big sister).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I Was the Only Male Visitor!

The ticket of the exhibition "Japanese Imagery in One Hundred Quilts."

Yesterday (Monday), water supply was supposed to be stopped in the afternoon because of waterworks around here. So, my wife and I did not want to stay home, and went, together with our first daughter Yuko, to see the exhibition, "Japanese Imagery in One Hundred Quilts," being held at Museum "EKi" KYOTO in the building of the JR Kyoto Station. Quilting is one of Yuko's hobbies.

On the back of the ticket (see the image above) it is written that these years Japanese quilt works, especially "the quilts of Japonism," are giving big influence to the quilt community world over. The exhibition displays new works on the theme of Japan's beauty made by 75 representative Japanese quilt artists as well as the works of Japanese imagery by 25 invited overseas artists. All the quilts seem to be of the size from F100 to F200 or more by the term of painting, and show both fine technique and power. I found the works entitled "Cherry blossoms in mandala" (partly shown on the ticket), "Kaleidoscopes" and "Nothingness" impressive. While we were looking at the exhibition, there were many women, but I was the only male visitor!

Coming back home, we were informed of the postponing of the waterworks to Wednesday due to rainfall. Where shall we go next?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Physics Class in My Senior High School Days

In 1952 I was a second year student of a senior high school in Kanazawa. One day the teacher of our physics class took us out to a nearby transformer substation to look at equipment there. Then the teacher took a photo of us. I am the third person from left in the second row. The rightmost person in the front row is probably the head of the substation. Note that the ratio of the number of boys to that of girls in the physics class was 9 to 1, although the total number of boys in the school was nearly the same as that of girls.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

One-Day Trip to Chihaya-akasaka Village

A sketch from the restaurant Santoka in Chihaya-akasaka Village. The building at the upper left is the residence of the owner of the restaurant. On the right, the side of the roofed, white gate of the residence is seen.
Yesterday (July 2, Saturday) my wife and I joined the one-day group trip organized by a travel agency. We got on a bus in front of the JR Ten'noji Station. The number of the group members was 35. We first visited Enmeiji Temple in Kawachi-nagano. There is a lotus pond in the garden of the temple, where we saw no flowers but some buds. It is a good place to visit in autumn, because there are many maple trees, among which the largest is about one thousand years old. That one has the name yubae-no-kaede (maple beautiful in the evening sun).

Then we went to Chihaya-akasaka Village. This is an only single village in Osaka Prefecture. The destination of our trip was the restaurant Santoka [1] at the foot of a mountain. The owner of the restaurant and his families has been living there since the days of their ancestors, who made a living by forestry. Now the part of the land around the restaurant is one of the most famous spots to see rhododendrons and hydrangeas. After having a fancy dish for lunch, we walked along the mountain roads to look at flowers of hydrangeas and other plants.

It had been raining rather hard until we finished lunch. In the afternoon, the rain became less hard, so that we could enjoy walking rather comfortably by breathing cool air of a forest. I did not brought with me tools for sketching. However, I made the sketch shown above after lunch by the use of a pencil and a sheet of pocket paper, on which sweet stuff had been served together with a cup of Japanese tea. I completed the sketch with a pen and color pencils after coming back home.

  1. Web site, Santoka (in Japanese).

Friday, July 01, 2005

"Van Gogh in Context"

The image shows my poor copy from Van Gogh's
"Road with Cypress and Star."

On June 21 (Tue.), 2005, I went to the National Museum of Art, Osaka, (NMAO) to look at the exhibition "Van Gogh in Context" together with my wife.

The NMAO was opened in 1977 by the use of the Expo Museum of Fine Arts, which had been built for Expo '70. In 2004 the NMAO was relocated to the western section of Osaka's Nakanoshima district. This was our first visit to the new NMAO building. The building has a structure in the form of a completely underground facility and an exterior design "inspired by the life force of bamboo and the development and cultivation of contemporary art" [1].

The present exhibition was realized with special cooperation from the Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller-Müller Museum, both located in Van Gogh's homeland of Holland. Just as written in the leaflet of the exhibition, we could trace the changes in Van Gogh's paintings from the dark hues of his early naturalistic paintings to the dazzling colors of his later works.

Another feature of the exhibition was its attempt to provide cultural context for Van Gogh's artistic activities. For this purpose the works of artists such as Millet, Cézanne and Monet, whom Van Gogh knew and was influenced by, as well as Japanese ukiyo-e and books and magazines of Van Gogh's era were also shown (thus the exhibition is entitled "Van Gogh in Context").

I liked the following three paintings best among Van Gogh's works shown: "Self-portrait as an Artist," 1888, Paris, Oil on canvas, 65.2×50.2 cm, Van Gogh Museum; "Café Terrace at Night," 1888, Arles, Oil on canvas, 80.7×65.3 cm, Kröller-Müller Museum; and "Road with Cypress and Star," 1890, Saint-Rémy, Oil on canvas, 90.6×72 cm, Kröller-Müller Museum. (It was quite lucky that just these three paintings are shown at the Web site of the NMAO with their titles in English!)

I paid special attention to "Café Terrace at Night," because a friend of mine, M.Y., wrote me that he had chosen the best kind of copy of this work at the same exhibition held in Tokyo to buy it as a birthday gift to his wife. Only it was a pity that the museum was too much crowded.

  1. Web site, The National Museum of Art, Osaka.