So you might have noticed that yamaonna has changed a little recently. Since I’m leaving this job soon I’ve started some preparation for my next adventure – the 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Shikoku! Whist I’m taking my ‘walkabout’ I plan on blogging at iHenro (link above in the menu bar), but until then yamaonna will still be my primary blog. To be honest, after I leave Japan I’m not sure if yamaonna will be continuing, and that’s why I’ve moved my Hikes page to my main page. Anyway, we’ll see how it all works out.
Also talking about preparations for leaving, I spent most of my free time in January working through my ‘Tokyo to-do list’. Part of my list included quite a number of museums, galleries and zoos in Tokyo, so I decided to take advantage of the Grutt Pass, a pass that gives you access to over 70 facilities in Tokyo for 2000 yen. In a month I was able to go to 21 different places, basically for free 😀
Not surprisingly the things I enjoyed the most have been the science museums. I had been to the National Museum of Nature and Science and the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation previously, but with the pass I revisited the first and also went to the Science Museum and Risupia. I can say all of them are top quality science museums and very engaging for kids, but unfortunately there wasn’t much English, except for Risupia. Risupia is quite unique in that it makes maths fun! It was the biggest surprise out of everything I went to. I did not expect it to be so well done, but as it’s also a showcase for Panasonic I shouldn’t have been so surprised that everything was shiny.
My other surprise was in the Tokyo Zoos. I had always heard bad reviews of Ueno Zoo, saying it only had small concrete cages and seemed quite cruel to the animals, but it’s obvious that the zoo is undergoing renovations and what has been done looks really good. And they have quite a variety of animals. Tama Zoo was also very good, with some very interesting exhibits like a huge butterfly dome, a bus ride through the lion enclosure and koalas (^-^)v Lastly was Inokashira Zoo in Kichijoji park, which is great for kids with a petting area filled with guinea pigs and a squirrel enclosure that puts you right up close with the scary little things.
Other than museums and zoos, I also went to a few galleries. The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is one that I always enjoy, although this time I was a little surprised at one display in the permanent exhibit (sorry, but a Penis Kaleidoscope is not my idea of art. really, I kid you not.). And the Domani exhibit at the National Art Centre was very enjoyable. I particularly like Kanae Toyama’s work, but unfortunately photos don’t do her work justice. The Crafts Gallery of the National Museum of Modern Art was displaying a very impressive selection of it’s doll collection, and it was amazing to see what can be done with just paper in some cases.
There are a couple of places I wanted to mention lastly. Overall my best day out was at Kiyosumi, where the above mentioned Museum of Contemporary Art is located, as well as a charming little history museum – the Fukugawa Edo Museum, which shows a mock-up of life in Kiyosumi approximately 170 years ago, and the Kiyosumi Gardens, which is small, but very pretty and well priced at only 150 yen. And finally, although not part of the Grutt Pass, but free and quite interesting was the Konica Minolta Plaza in Shinjuku. At the time they had an exhibition by George Steinmetz, who is an amazing photographer for National Geographic, and takes beautiful and amazing photos. Definitely worth looking at!
So, it’s been a busy January. And there still are a few more places I want to visit. Luckily I still have over a month left in Tokyo, although I know it will fly!