Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Tokyo National Museum: Japan's Oldest Museum

Established in 1872, The Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest Japanese national museum and one of the largest art museums in the world. Located inside Ueno Park, the museum's collections focus on ancient Japanese art and Asian art along the Silk Road, with the world's largest collection of Japanese art, including ancient Jomon pottery, Buddhist sculptures, samurai swords, sensational ukiyo-e woodblock prints, gorgeous kimonos and so much more. With only a couple of hours to spare, the key focus should be the Honkan Japanese Gallery and the enchanting Gallery of Hōryū-ji Treasures, which displays masks, scrolls and gilt Buddhas from Hōryū-ji Nara Prefecture dating from 607. With more time, one can explore the three-storied Tōyōkan Gallery of Asian Art, with its collection of Buddhist sculpture from around Asia and delicate Chinese ceramics, and The Heiseikan, which houses the Japanese Archaeological Gallery, full of pottery, talismans and articles of daily life from Japan's prehistoric periods. For lunch, we walked over to Yanaka, one of the few districts in Tokyo where the shitamachi atmosphere, an old town ambience reminiscent of Tokyo from past decades, still survives as it was one of the few areas in the city that was spared from bombing during the second world war. Home to artisans, temples, winding lanes and some great restaurants, we stopped for lunch at Nano Hanna, a small family run restaurant with a delicious traditional Japanese set lunch for just 1500 yen, which was one of the most reasonable meals of our trip.

The main staircase of the Tokyo national Museum which is the oldest and largest art museum in Japan and one of the largest art museums in the world

Terra Cotta bowl with flame-like ornamentation from Japanese Jomon period 2000-3000BC

Dogu clay figure with goggle-shaped eyes from the Jomon period 1000-400BC

Seated wooden Amitabha with inlaid crystal eyes from the 12-13th-century Kamakura period 

Modern interior of the museum

17th-century Edo Period Folding Screen with Landscape by Kano Koi 

Edo Period Folding Screen 'Autumn Grasses with White Chrysanthemums'

Detail of the screen

Meiji Period screen detail of 'Flowers and Birds' by Hattori Sessai from 1871

18th-century Edo period Karaori Noh Theatre costume with design of chrysanthemums, 
eulalia grass and butterflies

Wooden Ko'omote type Noh Mask from the Edo Period

18th-century Karaori Noh costume with design of haze, chrysanthemums and fans 
from the Edo Period

Woodblock print of 'Thirty Six Views of Nakanomochi in Yoshiwara' by Utagawa Kunisada 
from the Edo period dated 1864

Images from 'Hauta Songs, Second Series: Yukiwa Tomoe' by Utagawa Kunisada 
from the Edo period, dated 1858

Edo Period woodblock print 'BustlingTowns: The Bustle of the Flowers' by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

'Dyed to Order in Your Favourite Colours: Two Layers of Dye' by Utagawa Koniyoshi

18th-century woodblock print 'Contest of Beauties of the Pleasure Quarters: 
Somenosuke of Matsubaya' by Chokosai Eisho

'One Hundred Famous Place of Edo: Sudden Shower over Ohashi Bridge and Atake' 
by Utagawa Hiroshige, dated 1857

Meiji Period Yoroi type Samurai armor by Zennosuke 

17th-century Kujōkan tea house was disassembled and brought to the National Museum 
from the Imperial Palace in Kyoto

Nano Hanna Restaurant in Yanaka, one of the few districts in Tokyo where the shitamachi atmosphere, an old town ambience reminiscent of Tokyo from past decades, still survives

A small family run restaurant with only eight counter seats

The chef is busy in the small kitchen

A cold beer is the perfect tonic for another hot sweltering Tokyo afternoon

Sensai: pickled salads made with organic vegetables from Sado where the chef's mother sends them from, and change with the seasons

Tuna and Sea Bream Sashimi in sesame sauce

Steamed rice

Nori seaweed, wasabi and crunchy fried rice

Dashi soup stock

First the tuna is enjoyed with the rice, then the nori, wasabi and fried rice is sprinkled on top of the sea bream sashimi and drizzled with a little dashi soup stock

Miso Soup served in a lacquer bowl

Miso Soup with green onion

Pickles served with the Miso Soup

Hot tea to finish

Leaving the restaurant in Yanaka, we heard drumming and followed the sounds
to a Taiko Drum performance by local children

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