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  • Nigel W. Ruddock

Notes from the Archipelago - a Japanese Autumn 秋 2019

Cats, Showbiz and Art Deco


Sunday 10th November 11月10日 (日曜日) / Monday 11th November 11月11日月曜日


Let me introduce you to Kuro 黒 chan. She is 22, can hardly get up onto the tumble dryer in the bathroom, but manages it, because when the dryer is on, it is nice and warm. And as we all know, cats love nice warm places, preferably slightly elevated ones, so that they have a commanding view of the surroundings. My picture actually shows her on the railing of the veranda in Yokohama.

This narrow hand rail meets the two essential criteria - warmth (from the sun) and a commanding view. I have to add, though, that there is a good 4 metre drop down to the ground.....

Cats seem to be more important than dogs in Japanese culture. An important entrance way at the Toshugo shrine complex in Nikko (more anon) features a sleeping cat over the lintel. An interesting feature of Tokyo life today is the "Neko - café", a place to relax....with cats. Here is an article you may like to read.... https://www.kanpai-japan.com/travel-guide/neko-cafe-cat-experience

Don't boss me around mate, I am the queen here.......

Incidentally, not only cats, but fish of course are an essential part of life here too. These carp in the river at Hoshikawa don`t look particularly beautiful, but read on....

We are now off to see some Tokyo night life. Slightly south of the centre of town is Roppongi, a rather flashy neighbourhood, not only home to state-of-the- art shopping malls and innovative museums, but also to...shows. My dear "adoptive" Japanese family had invited me to Kagaguwa - host to a fantastic display of dancing reflecting old Japanese tales. I was spellbound......and will let the pictures speak for themselves....







The obligatory photo....!

There is a lovely word which cropped up in my language course textbook a few weeks ago. It is 二日酔い - Futsukayoi. My Japanese experts will no doubt point out that the first two symbols refer to the "second day...." The translation is simple: hangover. But thank the Gods (I must have gone to the right temple the day before) I didn't suffer one the next day.


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With a few exceptions, museums and galleries in Tokyo are shut on Mondays. One exception is the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Gallery.

It's in a quiet part of town, Meguro - south of the centre. No, this is not Japanese architecture at all - it is 1930's french Art Deco pure.

Why? Well it was built in 1933 by a member of the Japanese Imperial Family, Prince Asaka. Whilst he was on holiday in France he suffered a serious injury in a car accident. His subsequent hospitalization more or less forced himself and his wife, Princess Nobuko, to stay in Paris for the next two years. During this time they visited the 1925 Art Deco Exhibition. They were so enthralled by this that they undertook on return to build an Art Deco mansion in Tokyo. The result is this cool Art Deco house in Meguro.

I wasn`t allowed to take any pictures inside, so I will direct you to the website. www.teien-art-museum.ne.jp

The place is an an excellent example of the architecture of the time. And of course there is a café ........This pistachio creation was neither biscuit, cake nor dessert...it was all three rolled into one. Food of the Gods....(or at least of the Imperial Family!).

and a wonderful garden with pond, golden carp, and a tea house.....






by the way, the green colour of the water is a natural result of the mineral content.....

A rather fine pair of lions guarded the entrance....



...and the modern marble sculpture was not out of place....

But outside all this tranquility life must go. For example, you often see this - children being brought to the kindergarten by bicycle - some young fathers in evidence her, but as often as not it was the mother doing the pedalling.

End of Episode 3.


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