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Archive for August, 2007

It’s not possible to buy it in Pittsburgh, and I wasn’t happy about doing it online. Since I am in New York for a few more days, I went to the Japan Tourist Bureau and bought a 21 day pass. I’m certain I’ll want that. The only question is what I’ll do for the other 10 days. First thing I did when I arrived in New York was go to the Japan National Tourist Office and pick up about 3 pounds of information. I’m still working my way through it.

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Inching along

One reply came from my emails but wasn’t very helpful, mostly telling me things I already knew. I’m waiting for a second respondent. One of my fellow students in the Japanese Art History Department came to visit this afternoon. She got her MA in Japan and made some useful suggestions. I am feeling the need to make hotel reservations and will probably do so this week. Next week I will be in New York and can spend time at the Japan Tourist Office. I am counting on them for logistics info.

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Reaching Out

Thanks to Steve I have contacts in Japan. After weeks of reading, surfing, I finally decided to ask some questions about the plans I am trying to make. Following is most of the email I sent:

Thank you so much, both of you, for your good advice. It is much appreciated.

I have been spending most of my free time poring over books on Japan and surfing the internet for information. I made a list of about 30 places in Tokyo and probably 10 places around the country, in addition to Kyoto, which I haven’t even begun to research. I have the feeling I will not be able to accomplish all of this within my alloted month and I would like some advice about logistics and if there is some way to determine in advance whether the objects I want to see are on display.

I want to visit many of the temples and shrines in Kyoto, Nara, and possibly Nikko, and I have also developed an interest in two somewhat disparate areas: 1) Edo zu byobu and rakuchu rakugai zu, and 2) mingei. I have identified the locations of many of these painted screens but I have no way of knowing whether they will be on display. For instance, one of the earliest examples of rakuchu rakugai zu are the Uesugi screens, located in the Yonezawa City Uesugi Museum in Yamagata Prefecture. It’s a long way to go if the screens won’t be on public display. Is there some way I can find out ahead of time, although it can wait until after I arrive?

Several of these screens are located in the National Museum of Japanese History in Sakura, Chiba Prefecture. Since my flight home leaves late in the day I am hoping to go to Sakura on my way to Narita. One of the guidebooks said something about the Tokyo City Air Terminal. Is it still possible, considering security restrictions, to leave my luggage at the terminal in Tokyo and proceed to Sakura and then to Narita by public transportation? While I am asking about air travel, please tell me about the situation in Japan. Flying here has become so unpleasant it’s almost impossible. For all of the so-called security precautions, I don’t feel any safer than before, only annoyed.

For the mingei I plan to visit the folk art museums in Tokyo and Osaka. I am particularly interested in a set of screens, supposedly painted by Hamada, showing the locations of various craftsmen. These screens are supposed to be in Osaka. I am very interested in folk art here in the US, but it is something different than in Japan, I think. Usually there is little craftsmanship or training involved, the artists are considered to be outside of the purview of art history or art school, but I think the best folk art here can be wonderfully expressive. Twenty years ago I bought a wonderful carved wooden cat at a flea market in Tokyo, (see header above) but I have not seen any other evidence of these kinds of artists in Japan.

Here is a list of the places I would like to visit outside of Tokyo and Kyoto. I plan to buy a railpass. Should I also buy some kind of airline pass? I don’t know if that is really worthwhile, but I can see where flying might be a good thing. Also, how many of these places should I forget about? Keep in mind, I am no longer young.
Yonezawa, Nikko, Sakura, Nara, Ise, Otsu, Shiga, Osaka, Hiroshima and Izumo.

One more question: How and when should I go from Tokyo to Kyoto for the Jidai festival?

I will be going to New York next Friday. I plan to visit JNTO and some of the other Japan information places. Do you have any suggestions about good places for information in NYC?

When I get some answers I’ll post them.

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