Tokyo Trip 2008 (Part 1): An Introduction

Friday February 15 I left for Tokyo on a night bus with my friend Rick (that's her nickname). It was her first time to Tokyo and she was a little nervous going alone so I decided what would be the harm in going to Tokyo for one last time. Her plan was to visit with a friend so I started making plans of my own.

Ever since I had come to Japan I had been fascinated about Japanese art history and modern pop culture developments. It was unfortunate that I had not realized this earlier in my stay but I thought if there were ever a good time to try and explore these things a trip to Tokyo would be a great opportunity. I planned out a trip to go from Tokyo and travel back to Kobe visiting all the museums and galleries I could find along the way. The focus would be on Ukiyo-e, an art form I had longed to discover and research. How was Ukiyo-e produced? Why did it gain such popularity outside of Japan and what art movements did it influence in the west? How does this art form mark the birth of mass media in Japan and what influence does it have on Manga and pop culture today? Carrying all these questions, I was soon to find answers hanging in portraits in quiet hallways.

Objective two in my museum adventure was to explore Japanese art history and to gain a better understanding of it through museum visits and reading text. I used the book Discovering the Arts of Japan: A Historical Overview for my research and will be referring back to it through out these posts with a focus on the Meiji and Edo periods. In the end, it became much more then a look at art history but instead a lesson in Japanese history itself. While visiting modern art museums I was on a keen look out for pieces that reflected a style or art form from Japan’s past, making notes as to what was modernized about it. In this way I hoped to understand how the past influences Japan’s art today.

I am fairly new to art critique and inquiry through museums. Only having a few experiences from previous programs and high school art classes, I hoped to also improve my analysis skills. I was readily aware that anything could happen and my goals and opinions, which I held tightly, could fly loose at any minute. For example I had wanted to visit museums in chronological order, but instead, started with Modern art working my way backwards. This turned out to be equally as revealing which I hope to convey in the coming days.

View Larger Map
here you can see all the museums with purple cameras for visited spots, P for scheduled but passed galleries, and blue markers for museums I intended to visit if there was extra time.

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