Freed on a Fleeting Friday

A dog can has cheeseburger too: a photo taken from the Osaka design major school

Last Friday was the last day of classes at the University of Hyogo to which there was a very quite and dull hurrah from the students in general. Its sort of interesting that the School year ends in February and begins in April. It makes summer vacation seem so much stranger. What I mean by that is the school year as I’ve known it ends in summer and begins in fall meaning there is a definite break up between school years. However the college system here starts in April and ends in February making the college experience itself feels more fluid or constant. This is all good but then summer vacation seems strange and unnecessary. Not saying I would ever give it up though. The thing is you start school for a couple months and then in the middle of July you get a two month vacation in the middle of the school year. The year is broken up into semesters but how are you suppose to keep the energy and the mindset of being in the same school year and going to the same classes after a two month vacation? Anyways that's all in the past and the end of classes has opened my eyes to the handful of small realities I will face and should face. One of them being that I will soon be off this little island heading for the landmass across the ocean I call home. I think another thing was that being a student at the college and spending my time in classes there has left me with so many things left that I want to do. I wouldn’t necessarily call it regrets but the monotonous pace of school life and the piling on feelings of struggle and being lost in a familiar place were a giant relief to break free from. It was also a break I took rather violently because on the day of my final class I rushed to the station to be whisked away to Osaka.

titled : 菰野石仏 (2006)

piece titled: 申賀の里 (1989) (sorry, I'm not translating these)

My reasoning for going was I had been informed of an Art Museum there that I had been meaning to check out. My idea for this quarter has been to study the arts and to try and gain a vocabulary or understanding of how people speak about art in Japanese. I guess in a nutshell, and this could be said for most of my time here, trying to fill the desire to be lost and confused. I have spent a little time checking out museums and some of the older art forms but I wanted something that was a little more modern. Well if I had done my research properly I would have realized that the museum I was going to is for contemporary art. Not that this bad though, in fact it wiped a way a very strange general conception I placed on visual art in Japan. That cutting edge modern or pop art is oozing from all pores of the art world. This I have my study of advertisement and my trip to Tokyo to thank for this generalization I think.

The unique, not at all dangerous looking, Umeda Sky Building (photo courtesy of Google photos)

The show on display was of an artist named Muragishi. His work on display was breathtakingly realistic and his paintings had a very rough texture to them. I kept thinking that they were done with oil pastels or charcoal but was amazed to hear that some of the paintings were done with traditional Japanese brush and paper. I’ve never worked in that medium so I could only wonder as to how it was done. The curator asked me what I thought of the exhibition and I said back to him well actually I came here today to learn how to say such things. He was very kind and told me what he knew about the artist and talked about some of his work while also suggesting some other places to visit. The experience in general was refreshing and thinking from the start of this trip that I’d be studying art made me feel like I was finally returning to something I had left behind.

Browsing the gallery took a lot less time then I thought so I decided to do a little exploring in a city I don’t frequent very often. Being near the Osaka station you can see the strangely formed Umeda Sky Building. I had heard it is well known for its overrated and inaptly named “Floating Garden Observatory” and decided it couldn’t hurt to go and check it out. Getting there I passed through some of the industrial areas right next to the train tracks. It’s really a side of Japan that I’m very unaware of a lot of the time. The cackling/sleeping homeless people in public spaces are another thing. On my way there I took a double take as I spotted a little design college. I walked inside to look at their student gallery and snapped a few pictures.

When I finally made it to the Umeda building I walked inside and got in line for what I thought was going to take me to the top but instead brought me into something completely different. Apparently the building was having a museum display titled “Mysteries of The Human Body”. To give you an image of what it was like just imagine hundreds of people staring at dissected, trisected, and pretty much cut up cadavers put behind glass. It was amusing and fitted pretty well with my coming to reality thoughts of late. The exhibit makes you feel really self-conscious and well, human, bound by the limbs, organs and tools we are born with. However, it doesn’t answer why we are built the way we are or how that has seemingly nothing to do with who we are and what we do and in fact make those questions stronger. To see cadavers is an interesting event in itself because being the conscious reflective beings that we are we can recognize the mass in front of us as human but it no longer moves or functions like one. Therefore, looking at it we associate with a cadaver as if it were an object. So what about somebody you know? The difference between a living breathing person and a dead body is so earth shatteringly significant that its got me and a lot of the rest of the world believing that we have to be beings with souls. Just one of many reasons I might add.

Above the Osaka sky line

I finally got myself in the right direction and got to the top of the building, which produced another awesome aerial view of the never-ending city that is the OsakaKobe area. It was a good spontaneous day and I think there will be quite a few more before I make it back.