Showing posts with label Museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Museum. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2024

A Brief Guide to Arita


If you have any interest in Japanese ceramics then Arita in Saga would be great to visit. If your interest is in Japanese porcelain then Arita is a must-visit.

In the area around Arita are numerous kilns, some still operating and some closed down.

Just outside town is the Arita porcelain park, a theme park with a German theme and an amazing replica of a Baroque German palace. It used to have exhibitions of historical ceramics but those have closed.

In the southern part of the town, near Arita station, is the large Kyushu Ceramics Museum which covers a lot of topics but is heavy on local porcelain. In the middle of town the Arita Ceramics Museum is much smaller but well worth a visit. To the north of the town next to the historic quarry where Japanese porcelain originated is yet another museum.

The main street of the town is lined with shops selling local porcelain, some more gallery-like and pricey, but many featuring "bargain bin" warehouses.

The whole, long street is a preservation district of traditional architecture, though as it almost all dates from the late 19th century following a major fire, there is a lot of western influence in the architecture.

As usual for me, I try to visit as many of the local shrines as I can, and in Arita the most popular is the Tozan Shrine featuring porcelain komainu and torii. You will also see Ebisu statues along the local roads as Hizen, the former name for Nagasaki and Saga prefectures, the Ebisu cult was very popular.

There are no particularly interesting temples in the town, though one does have some nice nio.

In the upper part of the town there are lots of working kilns and the  back streets have walls made out of recycled kiln bricks.

Kami Arita Station is at this end of town. The previous post on day 70 of my walk around Kyushu was on .a couple of local shrines.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Kyushu Ceramic Museum


The Kyushu Ceramic Museum is a large, modern museum devoted to ceramics produced in Kyushu but predominantly locally produced Arita ware. For anyone with an interest in ceramics it is a must visit site.

It is located on a hill not far from Arita JR railway station.

The museum has a collection of more than 30,000 pieces, about 1,500 of which are on display at any one time, so if you have been before, a later visit will have different works on display.

There are also temporary themed exhibitions as well as the changing exhibits from the permanent collection.

The museum has two big collections donated by private collectors, one focussing on Arita ware made for the domestic market and one exclusively on works exported.

There is also a gallery devoted to contemporary ceramics of Kyushu.

There are a couple of other, smaller museums in Arita specializing in ceramics, but this is the biggest.

The museum is one from 9 to 5 except Mondays. Entry is free.

The previous post in this series exploring Arita was on the famous porcelain shrine.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Ryoma Sakamoto Memorial Museum in Kochi


Ryoma Sakamoto is one of the most popular figures in the creation of modern Japan in the so-called Meiji Restoration that ended the rule of the Shogun and restored Imperial rule in 1868.

He was a low-ranking samurai born in what is now Kochi, west of Kochi Castle. A small museum dedicated to him now stands at his birthplace, but the biggest one is located south of Kochi City overlooking Katsurahama Beach.

He was assassinated in Kyoto in 1867 by pro-shogunate elements, possibly connected to the famed shinsengumi.

It is said that Katsurahama Beach was a favorite spot of Sakamoto's, and a big statue of him was  erected there  in 1939.

Not far away, in 1991, a striking museum was opened dedicated to Ryoma.

While personally not having much interest in Ryoma Sakamoto, I was intrigued by the architecture. Designed by Hiroshi and Akiko Takahashi, and was their first project together.

I took these photos in late November, 2011, on the 17th day of my walk around the Shikoku Ohenro pilgrimage. The previous post in the series was from the evening before in Kochi City at Yosakoi Inari Shrine. The closest pilgrimage temple is Sekkeiji.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Sechibaru Coal Mine Museum


In the high country north of Sasebo, near the border with the  Arita district is the small local history museum dedicated to the former coal industry in the area of Sechibaru. Built as the offices of the local coal mine, the building is registered as an important cultural property as it is the only example of a Western-style building of stone in the northern part of Nagasaki prefecture. In Nagasaki City itself, there are numerous examples.

I am intrigued by the history of coal mining in Japan for two main reasons. One is that my grandfather and my father were coalminers and I grew up in the shadow of a coalmine. The second is that it is a little known part of modern Japanese history that kind of contradicts some of its cherished "myths".

I didn't know there were mines in this part of Nagasaki. I knew most Japanese coal was mined in northern Kyushu, with Battleship Island off the coast of Nagasaki being one of the famous sites, but northern Fukuoka and the Kumamoto-Fukuoka border area being some of the major coalfields. Early in this pilgrimage, I visited a coal mine museum in Nogata. A much longer article I wrote delving into the subject is here

There was not actually much on display, though the old photos were cool. I did learn that Kansai Coal Company, the owner of the mines, built a railway line in 1896 from Sechibaru down the valley to take the coal out. The previous post in this series on day 67 of my pilgrimage was on the nearby Oyamazumi Shrine and its ancient forest.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Tameshigiri Testing a New Samurai Sword


Tameshigiri is the art of testing a new sword. In the good old days this would often be done using the body of an executed criminal, but sometimes on a live criminal.

When this no longer became practical a substitute was discovered that mimicked the properties of human bodies. Wet goza, the reed mats that cover tatami flooring, when wrapped around bamboo, was close to a human limb.

Nowadays Tameshigiri is a kind of an exhibition martial art, but the goza is not wet and is not wrapped around bamboo.

There are a variety of different cuts and arrangements in Tamegishiri. One of the more difficult is called Tsubamegaeshi. A vertical roll of goza is first cut with a 45 degree downward cut from left to right. then followed by an upward 45 degree cut from right to left below the first cut. Then before the cut piece can fall it is cut in half horizontally from left to right, and a final cut on the remaining standing piece of roll is cut horizontally from right to left. All in the blink of an eye. see Photo 3

This video and these photos were taken at a demonstration of Tamegishiri at the Okuizumo Tatara and Sword Museum and the sword master is Mr. Yoshihara.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Buried Houses of Mount Unzen Disaster


Not far from the Unzen Disaster Museum is yet another memorial of the volcanic disaster from the early 1990's.

A series of houses buried under meters of material with often just their roofs showing.

These houses were buried by what is called "lahar", a kind of mudflow comprised of a slurry of pyroclastic debris, ash, rocks, etc combined with rain after a volcanic eruption.

In the eruption of 1792 a massive landslide caused enough material to flow into the Ariake Sea that it caused a megatsunami, but here the flow was much slower and everybody had safely been evacuated.

One group of houses has had a roof built over it to make a museum.

The previous post was on the architecturally intriguing Unzen Disaster Museum.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Unzen Disaster Museum


Mount Unzen in the middle of the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki is a collection of volcanic peaks that erupted in 1792 in what was the worst volcanic disaster in Japanese history. The collapse of Mayuyama caused a tremendous landslide that killed thousands and then caused a megatsunami that killed thousands more on both side of the Ariake Sea.

Mount Unzen erupted again in the years between 1990 to 1995, and the disaster claimed 43 lives, many of which were media personnel covering the disaster

The eruption and pyroclastic flow destroyed villages closer to the mountains, but inhabitants had been safely evacuated.

many more houses were destroyed later by lahars, mud and debris flows with ash and other materials mixed into a slurry.

The Unzen Disaster Memorial Hall, also known as Gamadasu Dome is a museum about these disasters.

I quite liked the architecture, with most of the structure underground. It was designed by Kume Sekkei, a large design company that employs hundreds of architects.

The previous post was on shots of Mount Unzen taken on my walk to the museum.

It was too early in the day and the museum wasn't open yet, but I did visit on an earlier trip to Shimabara, so this last photo is of the interior from that visit.