Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 6 - Tokyo National Museum (Ueno)

5th February, 2003 - After visiting the Yanaka cemetary, we decided that our last visit would be to the Tokyo National Museum to get some culutre - and to walk amongst even more history. The museum is quite large, and any serious exploration would take a good half a day at least. There's a good mix of exhibits crossing art, archeological, military and religious.

You can walk around for hours in here - though from memory there was a limited amount of English explanation... luckily T-chan's translation came in handy. The section on Jomon pottery is particularly stunning. Japan has long been sited as the origin of the oldest pottery in the world (at least the oldest known pottery). The Jomon pottery is around 10,000 years old, and is noted for it's roped patterns. It is strange that Japanese culture, so long surviving on the sea and agriculture had taken so long to develop during this phase of Japanese history.

Almost certainly Japan owes a great deal of it's advancement to the close ties it enjoyed - first with Korea and then with China. Especially from around 550 AD when the influence of Chinese art, learning, government - and most importantly the written language arrived and flourished. It was not until much later (several hundred years in fact) before the Japanese had devised their own written language based on kana (first hiragana then katakana).

By the Heien period, Japan had of course developed it's own unique form of military science and art - and warrier... the Buhsi or samurai. Indeed much of Japan's history can be derived (directly or indirectly) to two things... war and religion. Is it so different anywhere else?

You won't find too many tributes to Ninja in the Tokyo National Museum (though you can see some shuriken etc), but you will find a great collection of samurai armour and especially swords. Beautiful to look at - but deadly.

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