Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bijutsukan Valentine ♡

If Kenji hadn't come months ago, I probably would be staying in on Valentine's day, killing time with whatever I fancy at the moment (art/ asian drama/ novels), steering away from crowded malls, restaurants, trains, and streets. Valentine's Day in Japan is always big; malls red with heart ornaments and cupids, couples wearing matching clothes and whatnots going on dates, kiosks selling fancy chocolates, and everything in between. Quite similar with how Valentine's day is celebrated in the Philippines in that context; the only difference, I may say, is it being more of a day in Japan when men are adored and given presents (most likely chocolate, either bought or handmade), and women being the generous givers. Fret not, women! We have our own adore-me day, too-- March 14th a.k.a White Day! *wink*

So, given the whimsical "Japanized" Valentine's Day and the fact that I am one and currently residing in Japan, too, I'm expecting that day to just run its own course. But lo and behold, while I was waiting for Kenji at our usual rendezvous, I saw him running and panting towards me, with pink roses in one hand! <insert princess wave here> ♡ The initial thought of reprimanding him because of his tardiness melted away like the chocolates I melted the night before for him haha! 

To cut the chase cos this post is getting longer and downright cheesy, we heard mass, drank vendo coffee in the nearby Sophia University, and rode the train to Ueno for an impromptu museum visit, hence the title of this post; Bijutsukan = art museum/gallery.

So, here are some snaps from our unplanned Valentine's artsy fartsy date at the 
Tokyo National Museum♡ 

*photo-heavy post alert*

First things first, ticketsssss! Museum tickets in Japan are usually sold near the museum gates via ticket generators. All you have to do is put the bills/coins in, press the number of tickets you want to purchase, and wait for it to be released. However, there are days when the lines are long and you have to wait for a couple of minutes for your turn. What we did was to purchase tickets in the ticket office near Ueno Station's Park Gate exit. The ticket office is foreigner-friendly and tax-free, plus you don't need to line up for too long! (Adults-620 yen, University students- 400yen)

Getting the 620yen ticket allows you to access almost all of the galleries in the museum compound except for those with special exhibitions (you need a different ticket for this) and for those that are being renovated just like the Hyokeikan above.

For this visit, we decided to explore the Japanese Gallery, Honkan. The two-floor gallery houses 10 rooms providing  an overview of Japanese history and culture through the chronological development of Japanese art plus a few other temporary exhibitions on sculptural art and  modern art.

Welcome to Honkan! Imagine my awe as I see this staircase x golden door x intricate clock combo! Lovelyyyy~

We weren't able to see all of the rooms in this gallery given 2.5 hours so what you'll be seeing as you scroll down are just the rooms we were able to explore! I suggest allotting half a day just for exploring Honkan haha!

We started with Netsuke: The Prince Takamado Collection. This is a room full of tiny eccentric sculptures made with amber, ivory, boxwood, and others (even walnut shells and stag antlers)! Personal favorites are Ancestor Fukurokuju (10) and Hagoromo (15).

A room of Kosode garments and Ukiyo-e (prints depicting merry-making scenes mainly of Kabuki theatre, actors and actresses, and landscapes). 

This is what fashion looks like during the Edo Period. Everyone, say hello to the predecessors of today's Kimono, the Kosode robes! Interesting colours and embroideries! 

Noh costumes. Noh is a Japanese performing art based on traditional court dances dating back to the 14th century. In between Noh plays are comical acts called Kyogen and from there the known performing art Kabuki was born.

Folding screens and sliding door paintings during the Edo period. The one above is entitled Four Elegant Pastimes for Court Ladies by Kaiho Yusho dating back to the 16th-17th century. 

Another folding screen design.


From townspeople fashion during to the attire of the military elites during the Edo Period! Yep, armours! Yep, samurais! On the left is a Domaru-type armour with variegated lacing; on the right is an Ichinotani-style helmet with iris leaf design.

The art of tea ceremony during the Muromachi Period (1392-1573) to Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573-1603).

Tea kettle with thick rim, Tenmyo ware (Muromachi period)

Courtly Art- Kokin waka shu Poetry Anthology, ink on decorated paper by Emperor Fushimi.

Buddhist Art- Sixteen Arhats: Fourth Arhats, colour on silk

Buddhist Art
Left: Standing Bishamon Ten (Vaisravana), wood with polychromy, gold leaf, cut gold leaf, and inlaid crystal eyes
Right: Kei Gong


Random door and wall

 The Dawn of Japanese Art- Bronzeware from the agricultural Yayoi Period, featuring the bell-shaped dotaku

The Dawn of Japanese Art- Haniwa or terracota tomb figurines

Gotta love this window!

Sakyamuni Entering Nirvana, Kamakura Period (My favorite from the Japanese sculpture collection)

Standing Juni Shinso / Twelve Heavenly Generals, Kamakura Period. (Kenji's favorite)

Lacquerware collection

Lacquerware collection- Writing Box, made using the maki-e lacquerware method

Lacquerware collection- Cabinet

Lacquerware collection- Stationery Stand, scene of Sumiyoshi and poem design in maki-e lacquer

Water Droppers or Suiteki, used in the preparation of ink in calligraphy or painting. Suitekis are usually made of ceramics but the ones above are made of metal. These animal-shaped water droppers are part of the 442 metal water droppers donated by Watanabe Toyotaro in 2013.

 Modern Art gallery- paintings and sculptures from the Meiji to Taisho period.

Ogiwara Morie's sculptures

Exploring Honkan was exhausting yet fun! I just totally dig the idea that I got to spend this year's V day with history, culture, art, and love, a very far cry from my previous V days haha! We left the museum a few minutes past five and saw this glorious scene! What a superb ending to a superb day! 

  Ending this post with my most favorite work of art in the whole wide world, my Kenji! *cheesy haha*

 I hope your hearts were happy last Valentine's Day, are still happy today, and will be happy for the rest of the year! ♡