Day 36

The laundry of the day is hanging out, the dishes are made, the vaccuum cleaner is passed. Off we go. We take the subway, direction Omotesando. We walk around a neighborhood full of fancy boutiques, down a street in which the boutiques can be found into modern architecture buildings that catch the eye. But we are not here to shope for some Prada or Yamamote piece of fashion, we are aiming for the Nezu museum. The Nezu Museum was founded to conserve and exhibit the collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art that Nezu Kaichirō (1860-1940) had passionately built. Kaichirō, a businessman whose career included being president of the Tōbu Railway Co., Ltd. He liked art a lot, and built an extensive collection of pre-modern asian art. Before we enter the nicely looking, modern building, we decide to go to the next corner and have some Hokkaido Ramen. 

After lunch, we enter the museum. We can see through the windows a beautiful looking garden. But let’s start with the exhibit. Buddha sculptures, as well as other sculptures from antique times, can be found in the lobby. The first two galleries are occupied by a temporary exhibit: Can’t read it but I like it. The description of the exhibit is good: “We tend to avoid exhibitions of calligraphy. After all, who wants to look at writing from ages ago, even if it is famous, if you can’t read it? It’s boring not to understand what’s written there. Of course, being able to decipher the text is essential for understanding what it says. But let’s forget about needing a neatly printed text to read what’s written. It’s time to experience the fascination of writing with the brush. The focus of this exhibition, which consists mainly of famous works of calligraphy from the Nezu Museum collection, is presenting highlights of calligraphy that our predecessors treasured and handed down to us. We hope that you, too, will feel “I can’t read it, but I like it” and take that experience as a stimulus for moving towards a deeper appreciation of the art of calligraphy.” It is quite nice. Calligraphy does have a great artistic quality, but the papers, collages, and other vessels make these items a real work of art. Paper, collage, and communication having been central to Mamita’s work, we cannot not think of her!

In the upper galleries, there is a room full of very ancient Chinese bronzes pots. I say “full” but one of the forte of the museum is to put forward few pieces, sufficiently to get and idea, but not too many that you wouldn’t want to read the information provided on each piece. In the next room, there are masks and two gowns, from traditional Noh theater. The idea is to highlight poets reflected in Noh masks and costumes. Finally, there is a room with tea porcelain ceremony sets, refined. It is explained that the decorum has to make guests feel cool on hot summer afternoons, especially when unable to organize the ceremony early or later in the day. As usual in Japanese Museums, no photos are allowed, but we will keep this in our memories! After taking a rest on a bench, we head out to the garden. The garden is peaceful, with water running, old trees, and plenty of Buddhist sculptures. There are three tea ceremony buildings (all closed to the public). We walk around for a while, then head to the Nezucafé for iced macha lattes and iced coffee. 

There is always a shrine on the way. Always.

After the culture, sports. We start walking back towards southern Shinjuku in order to reach the Meiji Jingu stadium area. Here, you have a rugby stadium, a football stadium, and a baseball stadium, the Meiji Jingu Baseball stadium. Built in 1928, it is one of the last ballparks in which Babe Ruth actually played. It is home of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, and tonight they are playing the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. We get the tickets, and start rounding the stadium while waiting for Noe to join us. The game starts in 1h30 but there are already many people. We notice a number of PSG clad fans walking nearby and wonder what is the deal: we will realize on our way home later that PSG is playing Kawasaki in the nearby football stadium. Noe joins us, we get to our seats, and enjoy the game as much as the decorum. Little ladies with beer kegs of many brands in ice-bags on their backs are touring relentlessly, others have soft drinks, ice cream, and more. Inside, you have stalls with many type of foods: curry, onigiris, udon, sobas. The game is finished on a Yakult victory, we saw 2 HR, a triple hit, a double, a bunch of double plays, two home plate stops. After the game, the MVP comes to be interviewed by the Swallows mascot. And we start walking to the closest JR station along with thousands of baseball and football fans. There are really many people, but everything is very orderly, and we are eventually able to board a train and get home quickly. When the car is full, fans wait for the next train without trying to force things. Very impressive!

Not alone in the train



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