Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Matsuoka

Day 29 (-1) Service.
In Japan the customer is king. The custom of a welcome greeting to everyone who walks in the door with "Irashaimasu," the same greeting comes from any staff you encounter as you move around the aisle or displays. In some shops it is a competition between the staff to see who can say it first! There is always someone nearby when you have an inquiry and they will go out of their way to show you where something is. They are deeply apologetic if they cannot help! These staff at LOFT are in 'uniform' for Halloween, Japan taking on any excuse to expand their marketing scope!

We did a few things today. The first was a visit to the nearby Matsuoka Museum, to see an exhibition of ceramics dating from 1600. Amazingly beautiful pieces. Some very bright, others very subtle.
It was a surprise to see they also had in their Collection works of Henry Moore (familiar to you if you have ever been to the Art Centre in Melbourne.) They had 4 of his big pieces, as well as some female figures by Giamacotti. This one by Moore is called reclining woman on elbow. The names of his works are never more allusive than this. So we had fun deciding what each piece was called; One was "3 figures against a wall" The gallery was a lovely wide open space with a glassed in garden area; sort of deceptive from the small front of the building.
From there we called in to book for dinner tomorrow night, at Ebisu Garden Place a development on the site of the old Yebisu Brewery, and in the process stayed a bit longer.
They had an Origami exhibition with displays of history of paper making as well as a 'stage' I gather for demonstrations. There were little glass boxes of some origami figures and an explanation of how to make them. Laughing dog, talking crow.
While exploring that we decided to stop for lunch and had been planning on having Tonkatsu (crisp breaded Pork cutlet) with lovely sauce. We saw this small restaurant in the lower level of what was the old brewery so the walls were all dark brick and a big post in the middle of the room all very intimate and atmospheric. The Food was superb!!
From there we went up to Ikebukuro to see the Frank Lloyd Wright building, Myonichikan, meaning 'House of Tomorrow" originally a private school called Jiyu Gakuen, rejuvenated in 2001 is one of Japan's designated "important cultural properties." This is one of the very few schools designed by Wright (1867-1959), who is perhaps the most creative genius of 20th-century American architecture and is best known for his 1943 Guggenheim Museum in New York. He built this school while he was in Tokyo doing the Imperial Hotel in 1921.
He was a supportive of the owners' education philosophy, and agreed to do the school. It has all the features of his design, bold, plain walls and roomy, welcoming spaces with large windows framed in stylish geometrical patterns. Myonichikan was also given a Japanese touch by Wright's extensive use of gray-green Oya stone.
We had a rest there partaking of tea and cake in the Main hall.


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