The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – a main entrance to the Gardens directly west of Tokyo Station through the remains of Wadakuramon Gate (to the left of the moat)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – a main entrance to the Gardens directly west of Tokyo Station through the remains of Wadakuramon Gate (to the left of the moat)

 

We began one morning with a stroll through the public Gardens of the Imperial Palace in the center of downtown Tokyo, in the Marunouchi district, across from the Tokyo Station (main downtown train station) where our shuttle bus had dropped us off — our ship was anchored at the Harumi Passenger Terminal sever miles/kilometers southeast of the Imperial Palace.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Ginza district continuing to enjoy the architecture (our own extension to the Tokyo architecture walking tour of the day before [see our blog post, “Tokyo Architecture Walk, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)”]), having an excellent sushi luncheon, and shopping.

 

The Imperial Palace (former Edo Castle):  “The Imperial Palace has occupied the site of the former Edo Castle since 1868 [the Meiji Restoration].  Edo Castle was the home of the Tokugawa Shoguns and the seat of the feudal samurai government which ruled Japan from 1503 until 1867.  After the end of feudal rule in 1967, Edo Castle was vacated by the Shogun and transferred to the new Imperial Government.  The Emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869, after residing in Kyoto for over a millennium.  There has been a castle on this site since 1457, when a castle that occupied the site of the Honmaru, Ninomaru and Sannomaru areas was built by the samurai Ota Dokan.  From 1590 this castle was the home of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, who became the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603.  The Honmaru area included the massive keep tower, and the palace of the Shogun.  Edo Castle was extended by the second and third Shoguns, Hidetada and Iemitsu, with work completed by 1660.  Most of the original castle buildings have been lost to fire.  The current Imperial Palace buildings were completed in 1968, in the Nishinomaru, which had been the palace of the retired shoguns during the Tokugawa shogunate.” – Kokyogaien National Garden Office, Ministry of the Environment (Japan)

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #2 -- this entrance to the Gardens is directly west of Tokyo Station with the Palace Hotel Tokyo and the Nippon Life Insurance Marunouchi Garden visible behind the fountains

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #2 — this entrance to the Gardens is directly west of Tokyo Station along Marunouchi 1st Street and goes past Wadakuramon Fountain Park (not pictured, on the left) with the Palace Hotel Tokyo and the Nippon Life Insurance (building and) Marunouchi Garden visible behind the fountains

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – looking downtown from Wadakura Fountain Park in the Gardens at some of the nearby high rise office buildings downtown in the Marunouchi district

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – looking downtown from Wadakura Fountain Park in the Gardens at some of the nearby high rise office buildings downtown in the Marunouchi district

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a more expansive view of some of the Marunouchi district high rise office buildings adjacent to the Imperial Gardens

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a more expansive view of some of the Marunouchi district high rise office buildings adjacent to the Imperial Gardens across from the Wadakuramon Gate and Wadakura Fountain Park

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – as we strolled through the beautiful pine trees in the outer Gardens, we were struck by how calm and quiet it was in the Gardens

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – as we strolled through the beautiful pine trees in the outer Gardens, we were struck by how calm and quiet it was in the Gardens – in complete contrast with our experience in many other major city parks (e.g., New York City’s Central Park, London’s Hyde Park, etc.); this was truly an “oasis” in the heart of the city (of 35.6 million people)

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – the manicured lawn and carefully trimmed and maintained pine trees presented a spectacular screen in front of the Marunouchi district office buildings

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – the manicured lawn and carefully trimmed and maintained pine trees presented a spectacular screen in front of the Marunouchi district office buildings

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – the rebuilt (1968) Imperial Palace stands on a hill behind the Main Gate behind visible stone bridge and the (hidden) Nijubashi Bridge (a second, iron bridge)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – the rebuilt (1968) Imperial Palace stands on a hill behind the Main Gate behind visible stone bridge and the (hidden) Nijubashi Bridge (a second, iron bridge); this is one of the most popular portrayals of the Imperial Palace

 

The Main Gate and the Nijubashi Bridge:  This gate is the main, formal entrance to the Imperial Palace grounds.  It is used only when the Emperor leaves the Palace for important State occasions, for the official visits to the Palace by State guests, or when ambassadors present their credentials to the Emperor.  Ambassadors are given the choice of arriving at the Palace in a horse-drawn carriage.  The Main Gate to the Palace is open to the public on January 2nd and for the Emperor’s Birthday.  Visitors to the Palace entering through the Main Gate cross two bridges, the Main Gate Stone Bridge and the Main Gate Iron Bridge.  The Nujubashi Bridge refers to the Iron Bridge, not the two bridges.  During the Edo period (1603-1867), because of its height above the moat, the Nijubashi Bridge was a wooden bridge reinforced underneath with a further wooden bridge, hence the name.  The Palace buildings are hidden behind trees to the right of the Nijubashi Bridge… Special Historic Site Edo Castle Specified on May 30, 1963.

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – more office buildings (with lots of communications antennas) are clustered across from the Imperial Gardens southeast corner’s former Imperial Castle moat

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – more office buildings (with lots of communications antennas) are clustered across from the Imperial Gardens southeast corner’s former Imperial Castle moat (still filled with water, but with both pedestrian and vehicular bridges now)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Tokyo International Forum 東京国際フォーラム, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

We visited the Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo's first convention and art center, with our architecture walk guide, and were fascinated with the design and construction of the main building and the lobby gallery, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

We visited the Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo’s first convention and art center, with our architecture walk guide, and were fascinated with the design and construction of the main building and the lobby gallery, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan; note that from the outside a visitor has little idea of what will unfold when (s)he walks inside from the pleasant tree-lined plaza off a main street in the city’s main Marunouchi district near the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station

 

With 11 stories above ground and 3 below, the Tokyo International Forum is Tokyo’s first convention and art center, a magnificent venue embracing a glass atrium and four buildings each housing a unique hall.  It is owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.  Japan’s first international design competition was held in 1987 for the convention and art center with the results of the international competition (395 designs from 50 countries) announced in 1989.  The winning design for the buildings was by a U.S. architect, Tafael Viñoly, born in Uruguay in 1944.  Construction was completed in 1996 and the facility opened in 1997 on the site of the former Tokyo City Hall which was relocated elsewhere in Tokyo five years earlier.

 

The lobby, inspired by the shape of a boat, is the height of an 11-story building, blending ample air and sunlight into its glass and steel framework and is linked by underground passageways to the huge auditorium wing across the courtyard, Tokyo

The lobby, inspired by the shape of a boat, is the height of an 11-story building, blending ample air and sunlight into its glass and steel framework and is linked by underground passageways to the huge auditorium wing across the courtyard, Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“The Tokyo International Forum, which is located in Tokyo’s central Marunouchi district in Chiyoda ward, is a convention and arts center equipped with a range of facilities including 8 small-to-large-size halls, 34 conference rooms, a symbolic glass atrium, a refreshing and plant-filled ground-level plaza, a variety of shops and restaurants, and an art museum. The Forum is visited by more than 20 million people each year, and it serves as a center for promoting and communicating comprehensive culture and information.

“The Forum hosts a diverse program of events throughout the year at its distinctive and varied halls and conference rooms, including international conferences, ceremonies, academic meetings, exhibitions, concerts, musicals, and fashion shows. People of all ages from various backgrounds gather here to interact and enjoy the vast array of culture and information on offer.

“The Tokyo International Forum is also highly rated for its architecture, and it’s known as one of Tokyo’s leading landmarks. Boasting many attractive features in its construction and facilities, the Forum provides plenty of aesthetically-pleasing points and enjoyable attractions and ways to pass time for all visitors, from event participants to those just dropping by to have a look.” — http://www.t-i-forum.co.jp/en/company/

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – looking out the windows at adjacent skyscrapers downtown

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – looking out the windows at adjacent skyscrapers downtown

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #9 – looking out the windows to see a bullet train pulling into Yūrakuchō Station immediately adjacent to the convention center

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #9 – looking out the windows to see a bullet train pulling into Yūrakuchō Station immediately adjacent to the convention center

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #10 -- Footbridges link the sides of the lobby building of Tokyo International Forum

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan # 10 — Footbridges link the sides of the lobby building of Tokyo International Forum

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #11

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #11

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #12

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #12

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #13 – the main exhibition space is on the lower floor of the lobby, under 11 stories of glass and steel

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #13 – the main exhibition space is on the lower floor of the lobby, under 11 stories of glass and steel

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #14 – at lunch time the plaza outside the convention center was lined with food trucks dispensing take away foods

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #14 – at lunch time the plaza outside the convention center was lined with food trucks dispensing take away foods

 

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #15 – the tree-lined plaza outside the convention center gives no clue as to the spectacular geometric architecture inside the atrium (photos, above)

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #15 – the tree-lined plaza outside the convention center gives no clues as to the spectacular geometric architecture inside the atrium (photos, above)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Tokyo Architecture Walk, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – Mikimoto Pearls building in the Ginza district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – Mikimoto Pearls building in the Ginza district

 

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to take a walking tour of several Tokyo neighborhoods with a French architect who has done work around the world and knows the architecture of Tokyo quite well.  Although we barely scratched the surface of the variety and creativity of the buildings spread across the city, we saw quite a variety of styles and building materials and techniques.  These photographs catch just a bit of what we saw – and just one quick snapshot of what in many cases were complex buildings whose appearance changes with the time of day and the weather and lighting.

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #2 – Gap building in the Ginza district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #2 – Gap building in the Ginza district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – Maison Hermès building in the Ginza district, designed by Renzo Piano, 1998-2001

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – Maison Hermès building in the Ginza district, designed by Renzo Piano, 1998-2001

 

“Renzo Piano’s monumental tower rises a light, static and rigorous forms, covered by a glass facade that because of the light that filters through translucent slabs and densely gridded to compose, assumes the aspect of an immense symbolic torch chaos dominates the glittering heart of Tokyo… The design intent of the architect Renzo Piano, was that of a “magic lantern” inspired by traditional Japanese lanterns.  In the front, during the day, it gives a translucent idea of what lies beyond, fuzzy objects and events through the thickness of the glass block. At night, the entire building is glowing from within.” — https://en.wikiarquitectura.com/building/maison-hermes-tokyo/

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a building in the Ginza district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a building in the Ginza district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – from right to left- Maison Hermès, the Gap building and another building in the Ginza district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – from right to left: Maison Hermès, the Gap building and another building in the Ginza district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – A 12-story sculpture mounted above the entrance to Maison Hermès in the Ginza district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – A 12-story sculpture mounted above the entrance to Maison Hermès in the Ginza district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – A section of the glass block façade of Maison Hermès in the Ginza district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – A section of the glass block façade of Maison Hermès in the Ginza district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – a mix of architectural styles (old and new)

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – a mix of architectural styles (old and new)

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #9 – the interior of the hard to find (practically hidden) Wall restaurant in the Aoyama district, featuring one of the first vertical gardens (a green, live plant wall) in the world

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #9 – the interior of the hard to find (practically hidden) Wall restaurant in the Aoyama district where we had our luncheon, featuring one of the first vertical gardens (a green, live plant wall) in the world, designed by the French architect Patrick Blanc, the inventor of living walls

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #10 – a sign near Wall restaurant warning neighbors and visitors to be quiet at night, in the Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #10 – a sign near Wall restaurant warning neighbors and visitors to be quiet at night, in the Aoyama district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #11 – the Marc Jacobs retail store in the fashionable Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #11 – the Marc Jacobs retail store in the fashionable Aoyama district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #12 – the Prada retail store in the fashionable Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #12 – the Prada retail store in the fashionable Aoyama district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #13 – the entry to a retail store in the fashionable Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #13 – the entry to a retail store in the fashionable Aoyama district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #14 – a uniquely cantilevered section of an office building on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #14 – a uniquely cantilevered section of an office building on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #15 – the Hugo Boss building and retail store on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #15 – the Hugo Boss building and retail store on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #16 – a building and retail store on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #16 – a building and retail store on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #17 – a building and retail store on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #17 – a building and retail store on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

 

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #18 – the Burberry building and retail store on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

Tokyo architecture walk, Honshu Island, Japan #18 – the Burberry building and retail store on Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Mori Art Museum and Tokyo City View Observation Deck, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

The view of the Shiodome, Odaiba, and Chiba districts of Tokyo, Japan, from the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower in the upscale Roppongi Hills development

The view of the Shiodome, Odaiba, and Chiba districts of Tokyo, Japan, from the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower in the upscale Roppongi Hills development

 

Our first afternoon in Tokyo, Japan, we took a shuttle bus from the Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal south of the Ginza district to the western district of Roppongi Hills.  Our afternoon was spent shopping, having lunch and then exploring the Mori Art Museum and walking around the exterior of the museum on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower to take in the “Tokyo City View” from the windows around the circular Mori Art Museum that occupies the interior spaces of the 52nd floor.  The Mori Art Museum is a contemporary art museum founded by the real estate developer Minoru Mori in the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower in the Roppongi Hills complex both of which he built in Tokyo.  The contemporary art museum primarily displays Asian artists, and, instead of a permanent exhibit, showcases a constantly changing lineup of exhibitions, research projects, public programs, and more.  It is regarded as one of Tokyo’s not-so-hidden gems and the cultural jewel of the upscale Roppongi Hills development.

 

Tokyo Tower viewed from the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower in the upscale Roppongi Hills development, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

Tokyo Tower viewed from the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower in the upscale Roppongi Hills development, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Tokyo Tower viewed from the street in the Roppongi Hills district of Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

Tokyo Tower viewed from the street in the Roppongi Hills district of Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The view of the Shinagawa and Haneda districts of Tokyo, Japan, from the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower in the upscale Roppongi Hills development

The view of the Shinagawa and Haneda districts of Tokyo, Japan, from the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower in the upscale Roppongi Hills development

 

Two of the apartment buildings adjacent to the Mori Tower in the upscale Roppongi Hills development, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

Two of the apartment buildings adjacent to the Mori Tower in the upscale Roppongi Hills development, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Shiota Chiharu, In the Hand, 2017, Bronze, brass, key, wire, lacquer--38 x 31 x 42 cm (15 x 12 x 16.5 inches), at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan. “Threads become tangled, intertwined, broken off, unraveled."

Shiota Chiharu, In the Hand, 2017, Bronze, brass, key, wire, lacquer, 38 x 31 x 42 cm (15 x 12 x 16.5 inches), at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan. “Threads become tangled, intertwined, broken off, unraveled. They constantly reflect part of my mental state, as if they were expressing the state of human relationships.” – Shiota Chiharu

 

In the Hand by Shiota Chiharu: An evanescent, fragile-looking object is protected in the palms of a child’s hands.  Through her thread installations covering entire galleries, Shiota renders visible the invisible presences concealed within spaces, but this abstract motif, captured neatly between the palms, seems to represent the inherent life of her body, or spirit.  It also calls to mind the “trembling soul,” the exhibition’s subtitle. — www.mori.art.museum/en/exhibitions/shiotachiharu/

 

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION: Berlin-based international artist Shiota Chiharu is known for performances and installations that express the intangible: memories, anxiety, dreams, silence and more.  Often arising out of personal experience, her works have enthralled people all over the world and from all walks of life by questioning universal concepts such as identity, boundaries, and existence.  Particularly well-known is her series of powerful installations consisting of threads primarily in red and black strung across entire spaces.  This will be the largest-ever solo exhibition by Shiota Chiharu.  The subtitle “The Soul Trembles” references the artist’s earnest hope to deliver to others soul-trembling experiences derived from nameless emotions.  This will be the first opportunity to experience in detail twenty-five years of Shiota’s oeuvre; primarily in large installations, plus sculptural works, video footage of performances, photographs, drawings, performing arts-related material, etc.  Through this exhibition epitomizing the “presence in absence” that Shiota has explored throughout her career, visitors will doubtless gain a sense for themselves of the meaning of living and journey of life, and the inner workings of the soul. — www.mori.art.museum/en/exhibitions/shiotachiharu/

 

Shiota Chiharu, Uncertain Journey, 2016, metal frame, red wool at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan, photo #1

Shiota Chiharu, Uncertain Journey, 2016, metal frame, red wool at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan, photo #1

 

Uncertain Journey by Shiota Chiharu: The first installation encountered upon entering the galleries, Uncertain Journey consists of the bare frames of boats arranged in a space covered in bright red threads.  In her work for the Japanese Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Shiota hung a mass of keys from the top of an old traditional Venetian boat, but in Uncertain Journey, the boats are more abstract, and the space filled with red thread seems to suggest the many encounters awaiting at the end of this uncertain journey. — www.mori.art.museum/en/exhibitions/shiotachiharu/

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Born 1972 in Osaka Prefecture, currently based in Berlin.  In 2008, Shiota Chiharu received the Art Encouragement Prize from the Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.  In addition to solo exhibitions held across the world including Art Gallery of South Australia (2018), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2018), Smithsonian Institution Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (2014), the Museum of Art, Kochi (2013), MIMOCA Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art (2012), and the National Museum of Art, Osaka (2008), she has participated in numerous international exhibitions such as the Biennale of Sydney (2016), the Kiev Biennale (2012), and the Yokohama Triennale (2001).  In 2015, she represented Japan at the 56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition. — www.mori.art.museum/en/exhibitions/shiotachiharu/

 

Shiota Chiharu, Uncertain Journey, 2016, Metal frame, red wool at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan, photo #2

Shiota Chiharu, Uncertain Journey, 2016, Metal frame, red wool at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan, photo #2

 

FROM THE ARTIST: “I have always been creating works out of my passion and love for exhibitions, and it was the only thing that I could live for. Helpless conflicts of minds, uncommunicable emotions and my inexplicable existence; these feelings give all my works form and shape. The year before last, I was diagnosed with cancer again after twelve years, but it struck me that perhaps the painful treatment along with the confrontation with death is a tribulation to create honest works. This exhibition will present works from the past twenty-five years. It is a dialogue with my unveiled, naked soul.” – Shiota Chiharu, www.mori.art.museum/en/exhibitions/shiotachiharu/

 

Shiota Chiharu, Collecting Small Memories, 2019, mixed media, at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

Shiota Chiharu, Collecting Small Memories, 2019, mixed media, at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan. “To have a secret place all one’s own: old weighing scales, rusty wheels, old dolls, stones, nuts, model houses from the old East Germany, and some seventy or so small bottles that I picked up the other day.  This is the sort of junk that fills my atelier.  These objects coexist with me, in my atelier.  Quite by accident, in the midst of the everyday, they continue to move me.” – Shiota Chiharu

 

A view of Tokyo from the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills with the “Heart” (Kin no Kokoro) by Jean-Michel Othoniel, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

A view of Tokyo from the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills with the “Heart” (Kin no Kokoro) by Jean-Michel Othoniel, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A ground level view of one of the apartment tower buildings at the Mori Center in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

A ground level view of one of the apartment tower buildings at the Mori Center in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

 

New construction (reflecting an older building) in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

New construction (reflecting an older building) in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Kyoto Highlights (Part III), Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

We began our third day in Kyoto, with a tour of the Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, led by the master Nishiki silk weaving artist and art director Tatsumura Koho (the third generation artisan to own and direct the nationally acclaimed family studio)

We began our third day in Kyoto, Japan, with a tour of the Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, led by the master Nishiki silk weaving artist and art director Tatsumura Koho (the third generation artisan to own and direct the nationally acclaimed family studio)

 

“Woven on takabata looms since they were introduced from China over 1200 years ago, silk mon orimoro (design figures incorporated into the weave, itself), is exquisite, luminous, luxurious and multi-colored.  The high precision and skill level required to weave this fabric and the resulting extraordinary beauty and quality demands that it be distinguished from ordinary brocade by giving it a distinctive name, Nishiki.  In the Japanese language, the idiographic character used for Nishiki is a combination of the symbol for woven cloth combined with the symbol for gold, implying that the value of Nishiki is equal to that of money.

“Since ancient times, the word Nishiki has been used as an adjective to indicate great beauty as in the term, ‘Nishiki Autumn,’ to describe a colorful landscape in fall.  Nishiki, as a work of art, represents the pinnacle of silk weaving, rarely found in the world.  Historically, it has been highly coveted by the Japanese people, and remains a great source of national pride as an example of Japanese beauty.  Nishiki is created through the combined skills of numerous craftsmen, involving a broad range of technical processes that require time and patience. The work of Koho Tatsumura can be compared to that of a conductor who gathers together craftsmen like musicians in an orchestra, to complete each musical piece.  As the silk threads, each shining like gold, combine with one another, they come to harmonize as a brilliantly colored, dazzling, sublimely created Nishiki creation.

“The superb visual-textural feeling of silk’s infinite variations and hues, enhanced through processes cultivated over a millennium, is translated into works of art that will always draw our affection, regardless of the era.  At the studio of Koho Tatsumura we continue to produce woven fabrics as a Japanese art, preserving the tradition and skill, seeking to ever expand the beauty of Nishiki.

“Rather than thinking of weaving as flat and two dimensional, it can be created as a three-dimensional fabric.  This is one of the main defining characteristics of Nishiki, that it is woven in layers, creating a 3-dimensional effect.  Moreover, the individual translucent silk threads are like glass rods with a slightly rounded, triangular prism shape.  This is metaphorically referred to as a ‘silk prism.’  Because of this structure, silk thread both allows light to penetrate as well as reflects light and thus is able to sparkle with a diamond-like complexity.  By bringing the properties of silk thread to life in a woven piece of work and, moreover, moving it forward into the world of three dimensions, Nishiki becomes a ‘fabric of Light’ that manifests infinite changes in the light it encounters.” — http://www.koho-nishiki.com/en/

 

Master Nishiki silk weaving artist and art director Tatsumura Koho sells many of his fabulous beautiful three-dimensional woven silk fabrics as works of art in his studio, Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, Kyoto, Japan

Master Nishiki silk weaving artist and art director Tatsumura Koho sells many of his fabulous beautiful three-dimensional woven silk fabrics as works of art in his studio, Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, Kyoto, Japan

 

“Because there is no appropriate word for Nishiki in either English or French, we feel that the Japanese word ‘Nishiki’ can be used in foreign languages. Japanese-English dictionaries define ‘Nishiki’ as ‘brocade,’ but the two are really conceptually different things.  In order to expose the boundlessness and charm of what can be called ‘the most beautiful woven fabric in the world’ to a greater number of people worldwide, we continue our efforts to encourage the acceptance of the term “Nishiki” until it is universally recognized and used.” — http://www.koho-nishiki.com/en/

 

One of two 90-year old hand looms for weaving Nishiki silk fabrics at Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, Kyoto, Japan; on the left are visible the Jacquard punch cards that are programmed with the patterns for a given fabric

One of two 90-year old hand looms for weaving Nishiki silk fabrics at Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, Kyoto, Japan; on the left are visible the Jacquard punch cards that are programmed with the patterns for a given fabric, with 33,000 cards required for the most complex fabric produced at the studio

 

One of the masterpiece Nishiki silk fabrics produced by Tatsumura Koho and for sale (for well in excess of $US 100,000) at his studio, Kyoto, Japan, representing waves in the ocean with over 200 colors of silk used to weave it

One of the masterpiece Nishiki silk fabrics produced by Tatsumura Koho for sale (for well in excess of $US 100,000) at his studio, Kyoto, Japan, representing waves in the ocean with over 200 colors of silk used to weave it

 

The gateway standing at the entrance to Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrine is called a torii, indicating that the area inside the gateway is sacred space, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The gateway standing at the entrance to Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrine is called a torii, indicating that the area inside the gateway is sacred space, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrine is quite old – by the end of the 7th century it already commanded considerable indluence; today, it is a well-known for a variety of ritual ceremonies and festivals and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kyoto, Japan

Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrine is quite old – by the end of the 7th century it already commanded considerable indluence; today, it is a well-known for a variety of ritual ceremonies and festivals and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kyoto, Japan

 

The tower-gate(ro-mon) and the corridors to right and left are in front of the Main Shrine (Honden) at Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrineare painted red, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The tower-gate(ro-mon) and the corridors to right and left are in front of the Main Shrine (Honden) at Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrineare painted red, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Our last meal in Kyoto was a teppanyaki grill luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura in the center of the city; our seats overlooked the sprawling former imperial city with great views (#1), Honshu Island, Japan

Our last meal in Kyoto was a teppanyaki grill luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura in the center of the city; our seats overlooked the sprawling former imperial city with great views (#1), Honshu Island, Japan

 

Our last meal in Kyoto was a teppanyaki grill luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura in the center of the city; our seats overlooked the sprawling former imperial city with great views (#2), Honshu Island, Japan

Our last meal in Kyoto was a teppanyaki grill luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura in the center of the city; our seats overlooked the sprawling former imperial city with great views (#2), Honshu Island, Japan

 

The desert to conclude our luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura was simplicity and freshness on a plate – delicious fresh fruit, artfully arranged, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The desert to conclude our luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura was simplicity and freshness on a plate – delicious fresh fruit, artfully arranged, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Kyoto Highlights (Part II), Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

A traditional tea ceremony with centuries-old creamics and tea cups performed by the head monk of Kennin-ji Temple – believed to be the olded Zen Buddhist temple in Japan -- Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

A traditional tea ceremony with centuries-old creamics and tea cups performed by the head monk of Kennin-ji Temple – believed to be the olded Zen Buddhist temple in Japan — Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Our second day in Kyoto, Japan, we began with a meeting with the head monk of Kennin-ji Temple who explained the history of the temple who taught us how to meditate and then led us through a formal tea ceremony with tea cups that were several hundred years old and examples of the best ceramics artisanship in Japan during that period.  Kennin-ji Temple is believed to be the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Japan, dating back to the 13th century (the original temple buildings, like much of Kyoto, were destroyed by fire).  At present, there are three branches of Zen in Japan – the Rinzai, Soutou and Oubaku schools.  Kennin-ji belongs to the Rinzai tradition. The temple was founded in 1202 by the priest Yousai (1141-1215), the Buddhist monk who introduced both Zen Buddhism and tea cultivation to Japan upon returning from study trips to China.  The head monk talked with us about Zen Buddhism and gave us insights into an old Japanese Zen saying, “sou iu mono do” (“that’s how things are”) – an excellent perspective for dealing with the vicissitudes of life, both the ups and downs.  We then had the opportunity for an extensive tour of the temple.

 

Historic tea ceremony tea pot and cups at Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

Historic tea ceremony tea pot and cups at Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Zen Buddhism heavily emphasizes meditation or zazen.  Zen evolved into much more than simply a philosophy, and came to permeate the arts including the tea ceremony, whose practitioners pursued an imperfect, rustic beauty.  It was quickly patronized by aristocrats and the warrior class, including the ruthless 16th-century shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who commissioned the tea room found on the temple grounds.” — http://www.jnto.go.jp/ph/spot-activity/kansai/kyoto/kenninji-temple/

 

The small garden outside the tea room where we had a formal tea ceremony at Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The small garden outside the tea room where we had a formal tea ceremony at Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Tea plants (camellia sinensis) on the grounds of Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

Tea plants (camellia sinensis) on the grounds of Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kennin-ji is a historic Zen Buddhist temple in Higashiyama, Kyoto, Japan, near Gion and is considered to be one of the so-called Kyoto Gozan or "five most important Zen temples of Kyoto", Honshu Island, Japan----

Kennin-ji is a historic Zen Buddhist temple in Higashiyama, Kyoto, Japan, near Gion and is considered to be one of the so-called Kyoto Gozan or “five most important Zen temples of Kyoto”, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Buddha and sacred objects, under the ceiling mural of twin dragons, at the Main Hall, Kenninji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

Buddha and sacred objects, under the ceiling mural of twin dragons, at the Main Hall, Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The traditional Japanese rock garden at Kenninji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan, is regarded as one of the finest in the country

The traditional Japanese rock garden at Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan, is regarded as one of the finest in the country

 

Kennin-ji Temple is filled with important works of art and design which include paintings, sculptures, and the Zen garden, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

Kennin-ji Temple is filled with important works of art and design which include paintings, sculptures, and the Zen garden, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

After lunch in the Gion district, we met with one of Kyoto’s leading Tatami (mat) artisans, Mitsuru Yokoyama, who gave us a tour of his studio and explained the art of making tatami, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

After lunch in the Gion district, we met with one of Kyoto’s leading Tatami (mat) artisans, Mitsuru Yokoyama, who gave us a tour of his studio and explained the art of making tatami, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A selection of tatami making tools in the studio of Mitsuru Yokoyama, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan [see www.yokoyamatatami.com]

A selection of tatami making tools in the studio of Mitsuru Yokoyama, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan [see http://www.yokoyamatatami.com]

At Ryogen-in Zen Buddhist Temple, Yokoyama led us on a tour of the temple, where we saw its five gardens, including Totekiko, considered both rare and quite famous, being the smallest stone garden in Japan; Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

Mitsuru Yokoyama, the tatami artisan, supplied the tatami mats for the recent renovations at Ryogen-in Zen Buddhist Temple, led us on a tour of the temple, where we saw its five gardens, including Totekiko, considered both rare and quite famous, being the smallest stone garden in Japan; Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Totekiko, the inner rock garden at Ryogen-in Zen Buddhist Temple, is the smallest rare stone garden in Japan.  The main point of the garden is the sandy ripples of the stones.  The garden shows the truth that the stronger the power of a stone thrown into water is, the larger the ripple are.

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Kyoto Highlights (Part I), Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) is a shariden, a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha; it is part of Rokuon-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan – viewed here from the forested hill leading to the Sekka-tei Teahouse

Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) is a shariden, a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha; it is part of Rokuon-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan – viewed here from the forested hill leading to the Sekka-tei Teahouse

 

From Kobe, where our ship docked, we joined a small group of friends for a three-day trip to Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital, for our third visit.  We had the opportunity to revisit some of Kyoto’s 17 World Heritage Sites and had some great new experiences, meeting some leading artisans and getting a blessing at a Buddhist temple where Apple CEO Steve Jobs had spent some time getting an introduction to Zen Buddhism.  Our blog posts on Kyoto are abbreviated and include some highlights from our explorations.

 

The garden and buildings, centered on the Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) were said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world; the villa also functioned as an official guesthouse, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The garden and buildings, centered on the Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) were said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world; the villa also functioned as an official guesthouse, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

In 1994, Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) and Rokuon-ji Temple were registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

In 1994, Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) and Rokuon-ji Temple were registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The outer gate of Nijo-jo Castle, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, leading to rooms that witnessed some of the most important events in Japanese history in the 400 years since it was built (no photographs were allowed inside)

The outer gate of Nijo-jo Castle, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, leading to rooms that witnessed some of the most important events in Japanese history in the 400 years since it was built (no photographs were allowed inside), Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan; the castle was completed in 1603 and built for the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867), a period of peace and prosperity that ended when Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu announced in the castle his intention to restore imperial rule (1868 was the beginning of the Meiji Restoration)

 

Our first night’s dinner was in the Geisha district, Gion, where a young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

Our first night’s dinner was in the Geisha district, Gion, where a young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan -- #2

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan — #2

 

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan -- #3

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan — #3

 

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan -- #4

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan — #4

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Shukkeien Garden, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Shukkeien Garden, literally meaning “shrunken scenery garden”, contains a central pond surrounded by mountains, valleys. Bridges, tea houses and arbors that are skillfully arranged; Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Shukkeien Garden, literally meaning “shrunken scenery garden”, contains a central pond surrounded by mountains, valleys. Bridges, tea houses and arbors that are skillfully arranged and connected by a path which visitors can use to stroll around the entire garden; Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

From lunch at the Okonomimura where we had okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) – see our previous log post – we walked north in Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, about a kilometer (0.6 miles) to reach an oasis in downtown Hiroshima, beautiful Shukkeien Garden, an elegant flourish of Edo period culture in the heart of the city.  The name Shukkeien literally means “shrunken scenery garden”, expressing the idea of collecting and miniaturizing many scenic views.  In the center of the garden is Takuei Pond, containing more than 10 islets large and small.  Around the circumference of the pond are mountains, valleys. Bridges, tea houses and arbors that are skillfully arranged and connected by a path which visitors can use to stroll around the entire garden.

 

Shukkeien Garden #2, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Shukkeien Garden #2, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Shukkeien Garden #3, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Shukkeien Garden #3, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Shukkeien Garden #4, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Shukkeien Garden #4, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Construction of Shukkeien Garden was begun in 1620, the year after the installation of the first feudal lord (Daimyō), Asano Nagakira, in Hiroshima.  The garden was landscaped and built by Ueda Sōko, the chief retainer of the Hiroshima domain and a well-known tea master, at the order of Asano Nagakira.  Gardens of this type are known as circular-tour gardens.  They first appeared in the Muromachi Era (1336-1568).  In the early Edo period (1600-1867) they culminated in their classical form.  In 1945 the garden was destroyed by the atomic bomb.  The Hiroshima Prefecture instituted repairs to restore its scenery to its condition prior to the bombing.  The very popular sightseeing spot now hosts about 250,000 visitors a year.  We thoroughly enjoyed an hour in the park, finding it a serene oasis in the thriving and bustling city.

 

Shukkeien Garden #5, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Shukkeien Garden #5, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Shukkeien Garden #6, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan – a wedding couple having their portraits made in the garden

Shukkeien Garden #6, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan – a wedding couple having their portraits made in the garden

 

Shukkeien Garden #7, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Shukkeien Garden #7, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

From the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we walked through the covered Hondori shopping arcade to Okonomimura where we had okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) for lunch, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

From the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we walked through the covered Hondori shopping arcade to Okonomimura where we had okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) for lunch, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Hiroshima, Japan’s culinary profile attracts foodies from around the globe.  Birthplace of Japan’s famous okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), the city’s version of the dish is a must-try for gastronomes.  Piled inside a thin crepe are layers of shredded cabbage, meat or seafood, fried noodles, and an egg; all topped with sauce, seaweed flakes and, optionally cheese or sliced green onions (scallions).  From the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we walked through the covered Hondori shopping arcade to Okonomimura, an 8-story building with a collection of okonomiyaki restaurants on the second, third and fourth floors, all little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall “restaurants” specializing in the city’s signature meal.  We read brief English language descriptions of the various restaurants and liked the descriptions of those on the second floor, where we headed.  Only about half were open, so we chose one in the front corner of the building filled with Japanese customers.  Luckily, they had an English-language menu so we were able to order two different okonomiyaki for lunch with a draft beer.  We sat at the counter, watching with great interest the construction and cooking of our made-to-order okonomiyaki on a hot griddle.  They were quite delicious and very filling.  No desert needed!

 

Okonomimura (on the right), an 8-story building with a collection of okonomiyaki restaurants on the second, third and fourth floors, all little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall “restaurants” specializing in the city’s signature meal, okonomiyaki

Okonomimura (on the right), an 8-story building with a collection of okonomiyaki restaurants on the second, third and fourth floors, all little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall “restaurants” specializing in the city’s signature meal, okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

There was a staff of 5 or 6 to prepare the okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) on the hot griddles for a total of only about 14 seats (customers) at the L-shaped counters in front of the griddles, Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

There was a staff of 5 or 6 to prepare the okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) on the hot griddles for a total of only about 14 seats (customers) at the L-shaped counters in front of the griddles, Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

After making the pancakes on the griddle, the okonomiyaki were piled high with shredded cabbage, proteins (pork in one, pork and shrimp in a second), with oil for cooking poured on; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

After making the pancakes on the griddle, the okonomiyaki were piled high with shredded cabbage, proteins (pork in one, pork and shrimp in a second), with oil for cooking poured on; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

After cracking an egg and spreading it on the griddle to a circle the size of the pancake, the okonomiyaki was flipped over on top of the cooking egg; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

After cracking an egg and spreading it on the griddle to a circle the size of the pancake, the okonomiyaki was flipped over on top of the cooking egg; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The finished shrimp and pork okonomiyaki topped with shredded dried seaweed; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

The finished shrimp and pork okonomiyaki topped with shredded dried seaweed; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The finished pork okonomiyaki with udon noodles and topped with sliced green onions (scallions); Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

The finished pork okonomiyaki with udon noodles and topped with sliced green onions (scallions); Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The road north from Okonomimura, where we had lunch, to the Shukkeien Garden [see our upcoming blog post], through downtown Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

The road north from Okonomimura, where we had lunch, to the Shukkeien Garden [see our upcoming blog post], through downtown Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Reconstructed, modern downtown Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, viewed from the bridge on the Motoyasu River leading from the ruins of Genbaku Dome (on the right) to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Reconstructed, modern downtown Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, viewed from the bridge on the Motoyasu River leading from the ruins of Genbaku Dome (on the right) to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

 

Hiroshima, a modern city on Japan’s Honshu Island, was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II.  Today, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorates the detonation of the first atomic bomb in world history on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m.  In the center of Hiroshima, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb’s direct and indirect victims.  In the park are the ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero and named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996; a Children’s Peace Monument; the Cenotaph; the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; and the National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims.  [At the end of this blog is a summary of the history of the events during World War II that led up to the detonation of two atomic bombs in Japan on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, respectively.]

 

We spent a very sobering morning walking from the center of town to the Genbaku Dome and then the Children’s Peace Monument, the Cenotaph and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  Most of our time was spent inside the Museum.  The introductory exhibit presents images of Hiroshima before and after the detonation of the atomic bomb, setting the stage for the main building’s exhibition “Reality of the Atomic Bombing”.  In the latter there are sections of the exhibition focused on understanding the devastation on August 6, 1945, the damage from radiation, “Cries of the soul” which tells personal stories (with artifacts and photographs) of victims and survivors of the bombing, and a section “To Live” that documents the hardships and suffering of survivors.  The rest of the museum has exhibitions on “The Dangers of Nuclear Weapons” and “Hiroshima History”.  We were extremely moved by the special temporary exhibition of quite a few of the several thousand drawings of recollections of August 6th and the days immediately following by survivors, many of whom found solace in creating the artwork, where they had been verbally silent for years about their experience.  The work by the citizens and leaders of the city of Hiroshima and the staff of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in promoting nuclear disarmament and educating the world on the dangers of atomic bombs is commendable.

 

The ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero of the August 6, 1945 atomic bomb detonation over Hiroshima, named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996; Honshu Island, Japan

The ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero of the August 6, 1945 atomic bomb detonation over Hiroshima, named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996; Honshu Island, Japan

 

“The building now known as the A-bomb dome was designed by Czech architect Jan Letzel.  Completed in April 1915, the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall soon became a beloved Hiroshima landmark with its distinctive green dome.  While its business functions included commercial research and consulting services and the display and sale of prefectural products, the hall was also used for art exhibitions, fairs, and cultural events.  Through the years, it took on new functions and was renamed the Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, then the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.  As the war intensified, however, the hall was taken over by the Chugoku-Shikoku Public Works Office and the Interior Ministry, the Hiroshima District Lumber Control Corporation, and other government agencies.

“At 8:15 a.m., August 5, 1945, an American B29 bomber carried out the world’s first atomic bombing.  The bomb exploded approximately 600 meters (1,969 feet) above and 160 meters (525 feet) southeast of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, ripping through and igniting the building, instantly killing everyone in it.  Because the blast struck from almost above, some of the center walls remained standing, leaving enough of the building and iron frame to be recognized as a dome.  After the war, these dramatic remains came to be known as the A-bomb dome.” – signage in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

 

The Children’s Peace Monument is the first memorial visitors see in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park after crossing the bridge from Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

The Children’s Peace Monument is the first memorial visitors see in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park after crossing the bridge from Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Children’s Peace Monument – Sponsor: Hiroshima Children and Students Association for the Creation of Peace; Design: Kazuo Kikuchi, Professor, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.  This monument stands in memory of all children who died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  The monument was originally inspired by the death of Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of two.  Ten years later Sadako developed leukemia that ultimately ended her life.  Sadako’s untimely death compelled her classmates to begin to call for the construction of a monument for all children who died due to the atomic bomb.  Built with contributions from more than 3,200 schools in Japan and donors in nine countries, the Children’s Peace Monument was unveiled on May 5, 1958.  [There is a detailed photographic and textual account of her illness, death, and the inspiration her struggling gave to her fellow students to create the memorial in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum main building.]

“At the top of the nine-meter (20 feet) monument, a bronze statue of a young girl lifts a golden crane entrusted with dreams for a peaceful future.  Figures of a boy and girl are located on the sides of the monument.

“The inscription on the stone block under the monument reads: ‘This is our cry.  This is our prayer.  For building peace in this world.’  On the surface of the bell hung inside the monument, the phrases ‘A thousand Paper Cranes’ and ‘Peace on the Earth and in the heavens’ are carved in the handwriting of Dr. Hideki Yukawa, Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics.  The bell and golden crane suspended inside the monument are replicas produced in 2003.” – The City of Hiroshima

 

Children’s artwork is displayed all around the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park;, Honshu Island, Japan

Children’s artwork is displayed all around the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park;, Honshu Island, Japan

 

From the foreground- the memorial flame, the Cenotaph, and the main building (long and horizontal) of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; Honshu Island, Japan

From the foreground: the memorial flame, the Cenotaph [an empty tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere], and the main building (long and horizontal) of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; Honshu Island, Japan

The Cenotaph and reflecting pool in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park; Honshu Island, Japan

The Cenotaph and reflecting pool in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park; Honshu Island, Japan

 

“‘No one else should ever suffer as we have.’  This heartrending message of hibakusha, forged in a cauldron of suffering and sorrow, transcends hatred and rejection.  Its spirit is generosity and love for humanity; its focus is the future of humankind.

“As a response to the hibakusha’s appeal, the epitaph on the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims reads: ‘Let all the souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil.’  These works express the spirit of Hiroshima – pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.”The City of Hiroshima

 

The Cenotaph with the ruins of Genbaku Dome in the distance, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park; Honshu Island, Japan

The Cenotaph with the ruins of Genbaku Dome in the distance, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park; Honshu Island, Japan

 

 

“MEMORIAL MONUMENT FOR HIROSHIMA, CITY OF PEACE

(MEMORIAL CENOTAPH FOR THE A-BOMB VICTIMS)

Erected 6 August 1952

LET ALL THE SOULS HERE REST IN PEACE

FOR WE SHALL NOT REPEAT THE EVIL

 

“This monument embodies the hope that Hiroshima, devastated on 6 August 1945 by the world’s first atomic bombing, will stand forever as a city of peace.  This stone chamber in the center contains the Register of Deceased A-bomb Victims.  The inscription on the front panel offers a prayer for the peaceful repose of the victims and a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war.  It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima – enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.” – The City of Hiroshima

 

“No one else should ever suffer as we have” (the ruins of Genbaku Dome), Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Honshu Island, Japan

“No one else should ever suffer as we have” (the ruins of Genbaku Dome), Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Honshu Island, Japan

 

 

Background on the atomic bombing of Japan by the United States of America to end World War II in the Pacific:

“The United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, with the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.

“In the final year of the war, the Allies prepared for a very costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign which devastated 67 Japanese cities. The war in Europe had concluded when Germany signed its instrument of surrender on May 8, 1945, and the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific theater. The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945, the alternative being “prompt and utter destruction”. Japan ignored the ultimatum and the war continued.

“By August 1945, the Allies’ Manhattan Project had produced two types of atomic bombs, and the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) was equipped with the specialized Silverplate version of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that could deliver them from Tinian in the Mariana Islands. The Allies issued orders for atomic bombs to be used on four Japanese cities on July 25. On August 6, one of the modified B-29s dropped a uranium gun-type bomb (“Little Boy“) on Hiroshima. Another B-29 dropped a plutonium implosion bomb (“Fat Man“) on Nagasaki three days later. The bombs immediately devastated their targets. Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Large numbers of people continued to die for months afterward from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.

“Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 15, six days after the Soviet Union‘s declaration of war and the bombing of Nagasaki. The Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender on September 2 in Tokyo Bay, which effectively ended World War II. Scholars have extensively studied the effects of the bombings on the social and political character of subsequent world history and popular culture, and there is still much debate concerning the ethical and legal justification for the bombings.” — Wikipedia

 

For the full Wikipedia article with considerable details, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki

 

 

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