Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tokyo 08 - Tokyo National Museum

We reached Tokyo National Museum at 940AM, got into the long queue and waited for 20min before finally getting admitted into the museum. Some special exhibits actually took place on that very day. Majority of the people are locals (Japanese), so it was quite a pleasant surprise to learn that the local support for art & heritage is this huge (see 1st picture below).

There are few halls that made up Tokyo National museum. This is the Heiseikan hall (not related to Heisinki, the capital of Finland), which normally houses the special exhibits (No photo taking of the special pieces too).

Connected to the Heiseikan hall through a resting area is the Honkan hall.

Resting area.. Zzzz

View from the front door of Honkan hall.

Honkan (Japanese gallery) hall houses mostly Japanese ancient artifacts.
And Ive some of the following to share ...

Very ancient metal shoe!

Titled "Japanese Woman".


Tachi sword!



Ancient coins.

Japanese working on handy crafts.

Next, we headed to the Toyokan hall (Asian gallery), the hall that houses artifacts from the rest of Asia. And we have the following ...

Titled "Head of lion" from Kushan dynasty, Pakistan.

"Stone Statues of Heracles (also known as Hercules)" from Parthian period, Iraq.

"Glazed Tiles" during the Iron age from Iran.

Merely visiting 3 of the halls already took us 2 hours, and we were actually rushing through the pieces. There are more than 3 halls (check but we needed to check out from our hotel soon, so we ended up missing half of the experience. So i'd recommend allocating close to a whole day for visiting Tokyo National Museum.

On the way back, we went pass National Museum of Western Art and I took a shot of "The Gates of hell".

Next stop, Singapore, back to home/work/reality.
It was quite an eventful trip, from visiting canyons, man-made marvel, cabaret in Nevada to fish markets, shrine, maid-cafe in Tokyo.
And this is where i'd end my Japan trip show and tell.

Tokyo 08 - Ueno park & Shrine

Started the 2nd day (Aug 14th) early as we should be catching our departure flight at 4PM, thus we had only the morning for some more visiting. I'd love to get the sushi breakfast at Tsukiji again but time wasn't on our side, thus it would be safer to explore places near our hotel in Ueno.

We wanted to visit the Tokyo National Museum, which opens at 930AM. And since we got up abit earlier, so we decided to check out Ueno park and the shrines in the park.

And we arrived at Ueno park at 830AM, this is a popular place for cherry blossom viewing during spring season.

Torri gates stacks! Yea I think they are kind of cool, almost wanted to run through it, think I have seen that done in one of the movie (Memoir of a geisha) ?

Big Torri, one of the gate to Toshogu shrine.

Rows of stone lanterns.

One of the Toshogu shrine building. Most of the buildings here were build more than 300 years ago during the Edo era.

Lots of wooden votive plaques (Ema). Many of the wishes written in English too!
Behind the plaques are the copper lanterns, they're used for religious ceremonies to house the 'sacred fires'.

The Flame Of Hiroshima And Nagasaki, dedicated to the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It is said that the flame will be kept burning as long as nuclear weapon exist.

I got a mixed feeling after reading this. I always thought dropping of the A-bombs were the right thing to do, and the visit to Atomic Museum a week ago in Vegas reassured that. Maybe Im heartless? haha (the movie "Grave of the Fireflies" didn't affect me too)

The Toshogu building. A small fee required for entrance, however, we were running for time, so off to Tokyo National Musemu.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tokyo 08 - Asakusa

We arrived at Sensoji temple in the late afternoon. Sensoji is one of the oldest temple in Tokyo (build in year 628), and it is only a minute walk away from the Metro Asakusa station.

Theres a stretch of shopping arcade between Thunder Gate and Sensoji temple, i guess one can say that the road to spiritual cleansing involves abit of shopping (kidding!). This would also be a good place for some snacks and souvenirs.

After braving the crowds and temptations (of food and stuff), we finally arrived at Sensoji.

Painting on the ceiling.
Some of the ladies would come dressed in Kimono (I think those are 'Yukata', the summer version of Kimono to be more accurate).

And i was fortunate that these 2 ladies were friendly enough (and English literate enough) to take a picture with me.

We dine in one of the restaurant in Asakusa, but ran into a problem, the plastic model shown outside of the restaurant wasn't in the menu (at least we couldn't find any picture in the menu that resembles it).

Dine-in tips 2: Some of the restaurants would have plastic food models presented outside their restaurants, but it may not be shown on the menu, so what did I do? Ran outside the restaurant, took a picture of the plastic model with my 6 megapixel, and showed it to the waitress.

And this is the actual image i showed to the waitress.

And the actual food served.