Monday, January 14, 2013

Sand Museum Revisited


While walking the Iwami 33 Kannon Pilgrimage I was able to revisit many places I had been before. There were of course some new things, like the new draincover at Nima.


The design shows a woman playing a Koto, a reference to the "singing" sands of nearby Kotogahama Beach.

Singing is a bit of a stretch!.... as you walk on the sand it squeaks a little. Of course, if you are familiar with Japanese pop music you may realize that there is little distinction between squeaking and singing.


Also in the manhole design are the glass pyramids of Nima Sand Museum, the local museum built to showcase the sand.


Designed by Nima-born architect Shin Takamatsu, the largest pyramid houses the biggest sand-timer in the world.


When I was there in mid December the lower part of the timer was almost full. It takes a full year for all the sand to fall through. At midnight on December 31st the timer is ceremoniously rotated 180 degrees to begin the cycle again.


  1. :-D I have loads and loads anime soundtracks, and really not all of them are "squeaky" ;-)
    I love Japanese draincovers, but of course this is nothing new to you ;-)
    Hope you are having a lot of fun this year :-)
    HugE HUG!

  2. I am a fan of your "unfamiliar" Japan here as much as you are yourself. I have been a student of our ENLOV (Paris) ever since I entered our higher levels. Japanese, Chinese, Korean... That was some 55 years ago! As a social anthropologist (Oxonian and Lévi-Straussian species) I have travelled, visited and studied quite a number of 'local' species of mankind (southern middle Timor mainly).

    Now for my question: why are you / why are the Japanese themselves so keen on those manhole pictures?


    Gérard Francillon

  3. Bonjour Gerard
    I cannot speal for the Japanese, but for me what is fascinating about them is that usually there is a story connected to the design and I get to learn something :)

  4. I wonder if Japan is the only country where they decorate manhole covers? In the U.S., I've never seen a picture on a manhole cover, just the name of the foundry, maybe the municipality.

    And I wonder, how do you "showcase" sand?! I love the big sand timer, but what else do they have? Certainly, Japan must be the only country where you'd find a sand museum!

    I'm looking forward to another fascinating year of the "unfamiliar"!!

  5. Hi Phil
    There are a few artworks made that use sand, but otherwise very, very little. The museum was featured in a soap opera a few years back and that brings in most of the visitors I think. I have seen a few designs on manhole covers in germany....