Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kyoto Flea Market - Hokoku Shrine

And yes, I bought a vintage kimono. I wore it tonight whilst swilling Verve from the bottle (well close, from a wine glass). I also bought more vinyl. I am stupid.

Monday, February 27, 2012

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art - Kanazawa

I'd read about the 21st Century of Contemporary Art on my last trip to Japan, and had always wanted to go. This museum is for the people of Kanazawa. Designed to be a public meeting spot, a place to share ideas and a place for education. The building itself is beautiful - circular and full of light. The installations are wonderful. Simple, fun and not too high brow and accessible as the way art should be.  

The Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich is a great example of clever installation art. Such a simple concept, executed well. The viewer stands at the bottom of the pool, taking in the turquoise blue walls and the muted views of above, and inadvertently becomes part of the work - as the viewer from outside of the pool looks below (and too becomes part of the installation piece care of the people viewing from below). I could have spent all day in there.

Today it snowed

If I had to write a list of top 10 things, one of them would be snow. Not any snow...more the kind of snow that is the big soft snowflakes - the one that drifts softly through the sky in slow motion and makes the world stop and be quiet. That snow.

It snowed the whole walk to the train station, sticking to my hair and then melting while we laughed. It snowed the whole way on the train. First white flecks contrasting against the grey factories and industrial towns, then big snow showers blocking out the fields and then the white against bright blue roofs. At the end the snow was dusting the top of the mountains until the train swung into Kyoto town. Into the afternoon there were random flakes and it was cold, but it didn't matter because snow is fun.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Everyday Records - Kanazawa

I have never seen second hand records organised with so much attention to detail. Specific categories, well okay we've all seen that before, but each album had a wonderful label attached to the top left hand corner so you could see immediately who the artist was and the album title. So practical, so neat, so organised, so Japan.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Japan - Department store food pt. 1 (Savory)

Osaka Flea Market - Shitenhoji

You wouldn't think Osaka is an ideal walking city, but pick the right area and it is amazing the sort of beauty you'll find amidst the concrete expressways and train lines. We walked from Namba station to Shinsekai, which was like the Osaka version of Blackpool - complete with tower and old school neon arcades. On the way we went shopping in a supermarket decorated with pastel neon animals - it was like being in a land of magic, but with milk, sushi, cheese and fruit and veg. Oh Japan, you are still full of suprises.

We kept walking up the concrete hill, taking in the detail of the everyday. The most amazing shrine with candles and incense and gold tipped roof. The shop selling witches hats, the garage with bunting and the concrete truck with a massive gorilla! Then we hit Shitenhoji temple. A big open space complete with temples, food stalls and a flea market in the middle of the working part of the city. 

We ate fresh okonomiyaki and drank a sweet rice soup - warming our hands and our tummies. The grey gravel and temple stones were contrasted by bright green and red flags, and all was quiet except for the crunching of shoes on gravel and the metal gong echoing from the temple.

Then the markets! Stalls of vintage clothes, jewelry and ceramics. Kimono fabric and buttons. A beautiful enamel tray, but impractical to carry...well that was my reasoning, until I bought a single, because nothing says easy traveling than vinyl records. If you ever find yourself in Osaka on the 21st (and sometimes the 22nd) of the month, take the time to hand out at Shitenhoji.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The National Museum of Art Osaka

I spent my first day in Japan kind of remembering what it is like to be me. That sounds kinda lame, but sometimes you lose bits of your soul living in a place like Canberra. Work and life swallows everything up, and it's not that I'm sad but I guess I forget what it is like to be happy and exciting and in a city! Osaka rebalanced me in less than 12 hours. It brought a smile to my heart - friendly people, open minds, no pretense. The whole city is too cool for school without even knowing it. 

The National Museum of Art Osaka was the perfect starting point for me, because nothing smacks of an indulgent day than time spent in rooms with very high ceilings and interesting art to think about.

Now before I talk about the exhibition, please indulge me in a guerilla girls moment. Some of you can roll your eyes at the concept of history/herstory, but really - how many women artists do you know? I know a stack because I spent a few years at art school, but generally women artists are ignored by art historians and galleries, until recent times anyway. And no, it wasn't that there were no good ones - it was because nobody bothered to write about them.

So you can imagine how awesome it was to find that the National Museum of Art in Osaka was featuring the ladies in their permanent collection. One of my favourite Sophie Calle pieces was on display, as were some amazing Susan Rothenberg pieces, and our very own Emily Kame Kngwarreye works were featured ( the Japanese love her - the last time I was here there was a massive touring exhibition of her paintings).

The other exhibition at the gallery was Eternity of Eternal Eternity by Japanese artist Yayoi KusamaI'd never heard of Yayoi Kusama but she seems to be a national treasure and has been creating art for over 70 years and is still working. She likes dots and so do I and her exhibition was full of colour and lines and patterns - some parts reminded me of Barbara Hanrahan, actually her paintings were a lot like Barbara Hanrahan. Her sculptures not like anyones anything, but take a look for yourself.