Friday, September 5, 2008

Minka painter

Day 3 (-28)
I am no great fan of mobile phones, (mine is a SoftBank one) but I love the phone manners in Japan exemplified by the announcement on the train that people generally follow.
"Please turn off your phone when near the priority seats (risk of doing someones pacemaker in!) In other areas switch it to silent mode and refrain from talking on the phone!" Bliss! If someone does talk they cover their mouth with their hand, turn away and speak in whispers. Maybe Japan phones have better pick up of voice, as they never seem to need to yell like in Australia and USA.

Today I went to see the Mukai Junkichi Annex I missed yesterday. Today it was HOT again, so I was pooped when I got to the House, after following a superb little map from the web site. "Turn at the post box, take right hand road at tobacconist etc" It is often hard with some maps, as they may only mark the main streets, and a main street may be little to us, and therefore you stand at the corner trying to decide if this counts as a street, or is it a lane to ignore, or is it it?
The Annex is the former home of Mukai Junkichi, (1901- 1995) who was a war reporter and artist, and on his return was saddened at the loss of the historic Minka buildings (left) which were rapidly disappearing as a result of intense economic development. Mukai traveled to all parts of the country and depicted them with accurate realism and vividness. The main collection of his paintings is in a room that has huge doors opened They are almost a metre thick, I read later (and noticed outside) that he had a store house transported from Ichizaki in Iwate Prefecture and this is the right half of the house. He painted them solitary in the fields, with a background of magnificent snowy mountains, or huddled together in a small hamlet. The changing seasons figure prominently in all his works. My favourite is of a narrow road with houses on each side, and at the end of the road the world seems to drop away to the green cloud covered mountains in the distance, but still so close. He was painting right up to his death at 94 which was sudden after a brief episode of pneumonia.
On the way home I had to change at Shibuya (and I saw the monkey that is reported on the Age news web site, and TV here of course, however I did not see the net wielding policemen!) and called in for some air-conditioned respite at Seibu department store.
On the 8th floor I came across an exhibition of Ikebana, or at least arranged flowers. It was only after I looked at a couple that I realised they were hand made, putty stuff. There was a class on later, (I didn't do it) but I did have a brief chat to to one of the organisers who was very proud of her piece, Rightly so! Couldn't take photo but got a card.

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