The plan for the next day was pretty simple: Meet up with Seeta, a friend of a friend, and hopefully meet up with Allyson as well.
Trevor and I met up with Seeta at Hachiko Square, where this beautiful little guy sits. If you recall back to one of my first posts on Japan, the National Museum of Nature and Science holds the stuffed remains of Hachiko. We was the dog of a local professor. The dog would walk to the station to meet his owner at the same time every day after the man was done work; then they would walk the rest of the way home together. One day, the man suffered a stroke in class and died. Hachiko ended up waiting at the station every day at the same time for the rest of his life. This statue is in his memory. Hachiko was beloved and admired by all of Japan for his loyalty.
While waiting for Seeta, I noticed a few local people would pet or rub the statue. At one point, an elderly man pulled two cats out of a bag and put them up there with ol’ Hachiko. I’m thinking maybe he’s seen as a protector of pets and animals now. As you can see, Trevor felt very safe by his side.
Seeta’s friend, Pheomi, met us, and we went for some great Italian grub. Seeta and I shared a margarita and a four-cheese pizza. I was stuffed.
Or at least, I thought I was stuffed.
Afterwards, Allyson joined us for dessert at a nearby cafe. At the sight of dessert, I suddenly felt hungry again. Weird, huh?
Then it was back to our “bed” at the Internet cafe. Man, I can’t wait to sleep in a proper bed/sofa again.
Trevor and I were set to fly to Australia at 8:10 pm the next day, so we had all day to say goodbye to Japan. We met up with Seeta and her friend, David, to check out an exhibit called Seeing and Believing by Leandro Erlich at the Mori Museum. There was some pretty cool, fun, interactive, and sometimes thought-provoking stuff.
Things I enjoyed:
Clouds! Who doesn’t love clouds! These are clouds depictions–though I think they look more like cotton candy, but whatever–of Japan, the UK, and Germany. Don’t know what the message is, but it’s pretty cool when you look at it from the side and see how the image comes together. I reminds me of lying down somewhere and looking up at the clouds, trying to figure out what they look like. I don’t think I ever actually did that as a kid, but I’ve seen enough movies and TV shows to associate this with happy memories of my own. Like that time Bart saw a headless Jebediah Springfield statue in the clouds. Those were good times.
Maybe the message behind this is that creating a nation’s narrative is something we all inherently do to try and make sense of the world. In the end, though, everybody sees something different, and we must make space for everybody’s interpretation. How does that sound?
That’s Seeta on the left and David in the blue sweater. This one is called “Classroom.” The idea is that you sit in a chair, and your image is reflected into the classroom on the other side of the glass as an apparition. Erlich uses a lot of glass in his pieces to put space between reality and fiction, creating an imaginary space that is neither real nor fake. I like this because it adds an element of fantasy to everyday reality.
However I didn’t like Erlich’s intent with this one. The sign corresponding to this piece connects this abandoned classroom to “the declining birthrate and population with which Japan grapples today.” I didn’t make that connection at all.
As a teacher, though, I did feel like the apparitions of the “students” reflected in the classroom represented an archaic and outdated education system that desperately needs to be fixed. Our education system is not keeping pace with the maddening rate with which the world continues to change. In 2018, we need to start moving beyond chalkboards and pencil and paper. The fact that these apparitions are still around, haunting this school, is a dire call for help. We need to put this form of education to rest.
I also really liked this one. It’s another example of Erlich creating an imaginary space with the use of glass. There is a simple door with a peep hole, like any regular apartment door. There is another peep hole on the other side. When you look through the peep hole, you see an entire hallway between you and the door across from you, where your neighbour supposedly lives. This entire hallway exists within the tiny space between the two peep holes.
This tower stands in Buenos Aires. It is apparently a national symbol of power. The author created the illusion that the tip of the monument was removed and placed in front of the Latin American Art Museum. He covered up the actual tip with four white walls, then placed a replica of the tip in front of the museum for people to walk inside and get a view of the city from atop the monument. This was done with captured video. The idea, I think, was to democratize power and give everybody equal access to it. Brilliant stuff.
Don’t know what the message here was, but it was just nifty. I took that photo. Again, imaginary space between glass. Had there been some lame explanation of the piece, I probably would have liked it less. Sometimes, art just needs to be fun.
This one was really fun, too! It’s a maze of endless changing rooms. The walls on your left, right, and in front of you have body-length mirror frames, but only two of them have actual mirrors in them. One of them is just a hole. You’re supposed to walk through the one with the hole into the next changing room. It’s a funhouse mirror maze!
It sounds easy enough, right? If I don’t see my reflection, I walk through the hole. But what trips you up is that the next room has a mirror, so you’ll still see your reflection, and for a second, you’ll second guess yourself out of fear of walking into a mirror like an idiot. Very disorienting.
Mirror illusions! There is a large replica of a building lying down on the floor. At the base of the building stands a large mirror on an angle. Using some really great creativity, people can take fun pictures that make it look like you’re about to fall to your death. My favourite ones were this group of guys who created a human chain, and a tiny little girl who looked like she was trying to pull her mom up to safety. Then there were some jackasses who just didn’t how mirrors and/or gravity works. They would just sit down and take a picture of themselves. It’s not good when a 5 year old girl has a better grip on how the world works than a grown ass woman.
This one was a commentary on global warming. It was created during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. The name is also really cool. The piece is called “Maison Fond,” which translates to “House Melts.” However, it also sounds like, “mais enfants,” which translates to “my children. This reminds us to take care of the world today so that the children of the world can have a future.
Everyday life becomes a fun merry-go-round adventure! The piece is suggesting that even in our ordinary, mundane adult lives, we are still capable of having childish fun.
Quite the piece of illusion! A thin layer of water rests under a frosted piece of glass near the surface of the pool. Underneath that layer of glass lies an empty room that has been painted blue. This is another one where I have no idea what it’s saying, but it looks super cool.
Things I didn’t like:
Voyeurs. People are taking pictures of video recordings of people doing everyday things in their homes. It’s supposed to remind us that at any time, somebody could be watching us. I decided to take a voyeuristic photo of the voyeurs.
The boats look pretty, but that’s about it. The description actually killed it for me. Something about how a computer program replicated the illusion of a boat floating on water. This is supposed to make us question whether things really are the way they are, or if our minds accept things because it’s how we expect them to be…or something along those lines.
It’s a salon environment with the mirror missing. I sat in one salon chair, while David sat on the other side.
Erlich is trying to suggest that homes, while man-made, are also somewhat organic in that they are a kind of nest. Cities, likewise, are living and breathing entities.
Robert, if you’re reading this, the full model was actually displayed in Karlsruhe!
A stairwell was essentially placed on its side so that you are on the same level as people on other floors and every floor almost looks like an alternate dimension. This was a small-scale model.
I honestly don’t even know what’s going on here. Something about elevators. Trevor and I were naughty and took this photo.
AND SO ENDS OUR ADVENTURES IN JAPAN! WOOOOOOT! What an amazing country! Thanks for everything, Japan!