Maiko Story in Gion

gion-maiko-story-5.jpggion-maiko-story-4.jpggion-maiko-story-3.jpggion-maiko-story-2.jpgmaiko-story-gion-kyoto-1.jpgFans
Hanamachi is a Japanese geisha district. The word’s literal meaning is “flower town”. Such districts contain various okiya (geisha houses) and ochaya (teahouses).  A summer tradition around the time of the Gion Festival for the Kyoto hanimachi is to distribute personalized uchiwa (flat fans) to favoured stores the maiko and geiko frequent.  These feature a crest of the okiya on the front and the geiko’s name on the back (house name, then personal name).  Establishments in the hanamachis that have many geiko and maiko clients often accumulate many of these fans, and proudly display their fans as a sign of quality.maiko-story-gion-kyoto-8.jpgmaiko-story-gion-kyoto-6.jpg

The Mikyako Odori – Ushering in the Spring
When we begin to feel the first breath of April air, the Gion area is suddenly abuzz.
This is become the Gion, Miyako Odori, which is now intimately associated with springtime in Kyoto will soon begin. When ‘setsubun’ ends in February, the geiko (full geisha) and maiko (apprentice geisha) begin training in earnest in preparation for the four daily performances of the Miyako Odore which will be held for capacity audiences for a month from April 1 at the Gion Kubu Kaburenjo Theatre.  The annual dance performances are called the Miyako Odori and this year represented the 143rd presentations of the spring dances.


The Miyako Odori has its origins in performances held for the first Kyoto Exposition in 1872. These gorgeous and stately performances are organized around a different theme every year, and involved a huge cast of geiko and maiko and jikata (???), there will be 139 performances over the season.

As April approaches, the geiko and maiko have o-chaya send programs called ‘bangumi’ to their clients. These programs are addressed to “Mr…, danna-sama,” The more popular the client, the ore bangumi that he receives, or so it is said.
maiko-story-gion-kyoto-9.jpgThe client studies the bangumi that he receives, checking for appearances by his favorite Geiko and Maiko, fretting over issues such as what he should send as a congratulatory gift, and how he should approach the question of gratuities.
The geiko and maiko who will be presiding over the tea ceremony for each session are also decided in advance, and so he will also need to think about sending an elegant boxed lunch or temptin gsweets when his favourites will be appearing. You can be sure that popular restaurants and confectioners will be busy with arrangements.

And exactly like hanami, the parties held to enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, the partons will come with guests to admire Gion’s ‘o-hana’, or “flowers”.  In the hanamachi, when we speak of the o-hana, of course we are speaking of the geiko and maiko.

maiko-story-gion-kyoto-14.jpgMokuroku – Adding colour to celebrations in the hanamachi
Even if you are a regular visitor to the hanamachi , mokuroku are something that you won’t often have the chance to see.
On days of celebration, such as omisedashi, when a girl debuts as a maiko, and ‘erikae’, the ceremony in which a maiko becomes a geiko, poster-size sheets of noshi, or wrapping paper, brilliantly decorated with hand-painted pictures, are hung at the entrance of okiya (geisha houses) and o-chaya (tea houses) in the hanamachi. These sheets are called mokuroku.

Let’s consider the day of a maiko’s omisedahi (debut). On this day, the okami of her okiya visits the o-chaya at which the girl used to entertain customers as a minarai (an apprentice maiko). The okami offers each o-chaya a set of gifts to celebrate the minarai’s transformation into a maiko. These gifts include noshi, suehiro, matsuuo ryo, a pair of cups called shimadai, and the collar of a kimono, all of which are presented on a traditional tray called a hirobuta and wrapped in a yellow-green wrapping cloth.

In return for these gifts, the o-chaya sends gift money to the okiya, wrapping the money in noshi paper.  On the day of the celebration, patrons and geiko also send the okiya gift money, together with mokuroku.  For the patrons, the sending of mokuroku is a very stylish thing.

Each mokuroku is adorned with beautifully painted pictures in gorgeous colours which symbolize the celebration and add colour and decoration to the event. Pictures of auspicious motifs including treasure ships, red sea bream, bells (which serve as lucky charms), sake cups for toasting, otafuku, and uchide-no-kkozuchi, or lucky mallets, add colour to the entrance of the okiya and o-chaya, setting the mood for the celebration.

Tradition is highly valued in the hanamachi, and the use of mokuroku has therefore been passed down over the years as a traditional way of expressing congratulations.

Unfortunately, today Gion’s okami are apparently worried about the decline in the number of craftsmen who can paint mokuroku, putting this tradition in danger.

Omisedash – Debut as a maiko.
There was a time when Gion faced a shortage of maiko, causing concern for the future. More recently however, the number of maiko has been increasing year by year probably refelcting the influence of movies and novels.

A girl who comes to Gion seeking to become a maiko will enter a house called an ‘okiya’, where she will live and be taken care of in every aspect of her life.

These okiya may differ from each other in aspects such as their specific traditions and conventions but they all become the homes of the girls who enter them.

A prospective maiko, is initially called a ‘shikomi-san’. As a shikomi-san, she will begin by following the senior geiko, geiko and maiko around. She will also do the household chores for her okiya, and at the same time attend dance lessons and learn how to powder her face and how to put on a kimono. In this way, she will gradually familiarise herself with the hanamachi.

After spending about a year as a shikomi-san, she will finally begin wearing a special costume, and will be allowed to entertain customers at a zashiki as a minarai-san. After completing a period as a minarai-san, she arrives at her omisedashi – the day when she makes her debut as a makio.
On the day of her omisedashi, the new makio wears a black formal kimono and attends a ceremony at which she and her seniors drink a cup of sake in turn as a way of giving thanks and congratulations. This ceremony is characterized by a a sense of both tension and celebration that is difficult to describe.

Colourful hand painted posters, mokuroku, are hung up at the entrance to the okiya, adding vibrant decorations to the celebration. These posters are offered by o-chaya, patrons and others to congratulation the maiko on her omisedashi.
The new makio’s very frist job on her first day is to make courtesy visits to o-chaya. Looking exquisite, she makes her way around the hanamachi, visiting the -chaya in turn and offering graceful greetings at each one.

The tension she feels on her first day, combined with the traditional etiquette which her training has made an essential part of her, adds a sense of dignified elegance to her freshness and innocence.

gion-maiko-story-10.jpggion-maiko-story-9.jpggion-maiko-story-8.jpggion-maiko-story-12.jpggion-maiko-story-14.jpggion-maiko-story-15.jpg

Erikae – Graduation to full Geiko.
The transition from maiko to geiko is called erikae, which literally means ‘replacement of the collar’.
Although there are a number of theories as to the origin of this term, it seems most likely that the advancement to geiko states is called erikae becaue the maiko repaces her red collar with a white one make of Chinese brocade when she becomes a geiko.

Having spent the latter half o her teens as a makio, when a girl passes the ago of 20, it is time for her erikae.
When she has her erikae, the young girl is transformed from a cute maiko into an adult, fully-fledged geiko with all the changes in style and appearance that this implies. But these changes do not take place in a single day. The day of a maiko’s erikae is scheduled in advance and in her remaining days as a maiko, she will wear a special hairstyle called ‘sakkou’, and appear at zashiki in a black kimono. Maiko from some okiya also paint their teeth black, a custome called o-haguro. The maiko usually performs a dance entitled ‘Kurokami” (Black Hair) in this period.

When the maiko finally becomes a geiko, her own hair will be covered by a traditional Shimada wig. She will wear kimono with sleeves of normal length, shorter than the sleeves of a maiko’s kimono, and will no longer wear the darari no obi, the long obi belt which is unique to maiko. She will no longer use the obi clips called pocchiri which will be replaced by decorative cord for holding her obi belt in place. She will also stop wearing the tall sandals called okobo.

In the evening of her last day as a maiko, she returns to her yakata and performs ‘Kurokami’ for her regular customers and other people in the house, saying goodbye to her days as a mako. In her very last moments as a maiko, her chignon is cut with a blade in order to let down her hair. The okami of the yakata where she has been taken care of, as well as her seniors and juniors from the same okiya, join in this ritual giving her thanks for all the efforts she has made. In some cases her regular customers will be invited to witness the ritual, but this is rare.

The new geiko has endured hard training which began in her mid-teens and she is now finally becoming an adult. She sheds tears of happiness, but tempered with a certain feeling of sadness. In her last moments as a maiko she is lovely, but the sight is also a moving one because her days as a maiko are gone forever.

To be a geiko is to be judged as a moving work of art.
gion-maiko-story-16.jpggion-maiko-story-17.jpggion-maiko-story-19.jpggion-maiko-story-18.jpggion-maiko-story-20.jpg

Kyoto Handicrafts Museum… not to be confused with the Kyoto Handicrafts Centre.

Aunty Mary and I set off this morning looking for the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Handicrafts… and decided to go via taxi seeing that it wasn’t far away and it was going to be ¥630 by taxi and about ¥480 by bus but with a walk in the god awful heat we are experiencing.  I did my due diligence and copied the address of the !centre into a note on my phone (in both English and in Japanese characters) and showed it to the little taxi driver. ‘Hai!  Hai!’ and off we went.  All was well and he let us off at two large buildings marked the Kyoto Handicrafts Centre.  Cool.  We go in and discover we are actually at a different place all of 400m away from the Kyoto Handicrafts Museum!  Oh well, they have a roster of craftsman working in their studios and today was showing up traditional Damascene work, so we went in and had a look around.
damascene-kyoto-1.jpgI had never really heard of Damascene work before, being more interested in Japanese woodblock printing and in Japanese tattooing, but this was really interesting. They use a series of intricate chisel tools to make marks on a steel foundation and then apply a design with gold and silver leaf.  The surface is then oxidised and then baked with a lacquer.  After which the gold and silver are polished out with charcoal.  Detail is added by using engraving techniques and the end result is extremely delicate metalwork done in precious metals.damascene-kyoto-2.jpgdamascene-kyoto-tools-.jpgdamascene-kyoto-craftsman-.jpgThese pieces are the results of hundreds of hours of very careful and delicate work… hence the AU$2,000.00 price tag for this piece which measured about 6cm square.final-damascene-kyoto.jpgdamascene-kyoto-final-.jpgThe Kyoto Handicraft Centre also had one of the most remarkable gift shops attached to it, full of work that is created on site when the different craftsmen are scheduled in to demonstrate their skills.  There was doll making, which was considered an art for the nobility.  The delicate ceramic work, embroidery and extremely fine painting that goes into these dolls is evident in the entirety of the piece. The doll maker is a bit of a jack of all trades working with textiles, ceramics, hair and paper. These dolls are about 35cm in height and so ridiculously detailed.doll-making-2.jpgdoll-making-.jpgSuch beautiful tiny embroidery on this maiko’s dress, she had a price tag of AU$800, and I can see why.  We saw lots of dolls similar to this style, in the tourist stores down the main street in Gion and through various Tokyo outlets, but nothing to the quality or standard.
I haven’t seen anything quite like this doll (below) anywhere else we have been so far – so much work and so much detail.  He has a AU$500 price tag and stands only about 25cm high, but you can see how much work has gone into making each and every piece of his costume.doll-making-3.jpgI absolutely adored this suit of armour – and thought it would look very well in my living room.  😉  I also thought it would appeal to my friend Nathaniel – and if I had the spare AU$70,000.00 on the price tag I would have found some way to get it home! surmurai-armour.jpgsamurai-armour.jpgLove the detail – just gorgeous!samurai-armour-detail-.jpgThere was also a range of swords for sale – though unfortunately I was unable to read the information on the tags other than the AU$10-15,000 price tags.  I would love to know a bit more about them but, compared to Tokyo, the customer service staff seem to have very little English so we have to just suffer in our ignorance.
*another self recrimination for not having spent the last six months learning conversational Japanese*samurai-swords-1-katana-.jpgsamurai-swords-katana-2.jpgThe Handicrafts centre also had a great deal of lacquerware on sale – mostly bowls, boxes, sake sets, various  serving dishes and these rather shiny and beautiful little dust gatherers… at about AU$100 each they were probably one of the only things I could afford in the store!  😀  But I really don’t need little lacquerware dolls.
I found out in the lacquerware actually came to Japan from China with the adoption of Zen culture during the Kamakur period (1185-1333AD) and these items were treasured as ‘karamono’ (objects from China) and were displayed in major temples and homes.  laquerware-dolls.jpgAlso loads of ceramic ware including this lovely little tea set, and many small sake cups.  The sake cups with intricate designs on them started around AU$75 each and this tea set which is quite plain was about AU$400.  I love this sort of thing, but faced the same dilemma in Turkey – buying breakables is always a quandary… you have to nurse it all the way home or if you put it in your luggage risk opening your bags to smashed treasures.
tea-sets.jpgAfter we had a good look around the Kyoto Centre of Traditional Handicrafts, we decided to make our way around to the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Handicrafts… where I was hoping there would be some history of these crafts and skills available.

Kimono are the real treasures of Japan and they have been worn since ancient times.  They are made from several techniques – dying, weaving, painting with dye, stencilling and embroidery.  They have traditionally been made to ingeniously adjust to suit the hot, humid Japanese summers.  Different garments were worn in early summer, midsummer and late summer marking the fleeting seasons with specific forms of dress.  Summer kimono are either hitoe (unlined silk) or katabira (unlined ramie), with the former worn during early and late summer and the later worn in midsummer.  Japanese culture’s profound appreciation of the seasons can be seen in their kimono which employ colours, and designs that are evocative of the season for which the kimono was designed to be worn.kimono-dying-.jpgkimono-.jpgThe paper lanterns that we have been seeing everywhere are called ‘chochin’.  They were first used during the Muromachi period (14thC – 18thC) to light the way when walking at night.  The Chochin did not become common in Kyoto until the Edo period (17thC – 19thC) when they were starting to be produced en masse for the Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples in the regions as religious adornments.  Today they are used as decorations and religious adornments and are made using a method called ‘ipponkake-shiki’ in which individual pieces of bamboo are connected in a circle to serve as the lantern’s frame.paper-lanterns-.jpgNihonshu – Japanese sake!  Blessed with good quality water and a climate ideal for making sake, Kyoto has a long and distinguished history as a major sake producer.  A sake producing bureau – the ‘Mikino-tsukasa’ – was created within the Imperial Court during the Heian period (8thC-12thC) and produced sake using the most advanced technology of that era.  The skill and knowledge of sake production eventually spread to Kyoto’s outlying areas and Fushimi also became a well known leading sake producing area.  After the Meiji Period, theopening of the Tokaido Line railway allowed for Kyoto and Fushimi to produce and distribute sake all over Japan, and they reamin the two most prominent areas for sake.japanese-sake-.jpgStages of porcelain production.ceramics-.jpg

Woodcarving, gilding and painting… this is the technique used on a lot of the temples, gates, shrines and other significant buildings done in traditional architectural styles.  You can see how a flat piece of wood is carved, then lacquered, then gilded, then painted for dimension and effect.  I’ll come back and add a picture of this in situ somewhere when I hunt down a good example.  It was used in buildings and on furniture.

Like this piece… the coloured paintwork is hard to see with the sheer amount of gilded wood and plated metal work added to it, but this home shrine demonstrates these woodworking/lacquering/gilding and painting techniques.final-pieces-.jpgshamisen-and-flute-.jpgtraditional-bows-and-arrows-.jpg

Fushimi Inari Taisha Temple gates.

Up bright and early again to beat the heat – with added benefit of beating most of the tourists too – and headed off to the Fushimi Inari Taisha Temple with its famous vermillion gates.  Now I have seen these gates in movies, and people run through the gates and throw their coins into the offering box, and make their prayers and wishes and it all takes mere minutes.  But this place is a complex of thousands of bright orange/red gates that go for over 4kms.

The stunning shrine complex was originally built in dedication to the gods of the rice harvest and sake by the Hata family, sometime in the 8th century.   These days the shrine is one of Japan’s most popular with many who observe at the 30,000 other Inari shrines located throughout Japan make pilgrimage here to pay homage.  The winding rows of gates twist and sprawl across the woodlands of the Inari-yama area and there really are thousands of these torii gates.

Below is the main two storied gate entering into the shrine complex, where observers will enter, then purify their hands – using water ladled from a well, left hand first, right hand second, take water into the left hand and drink, then let water run down the handle of the ladle, then returning the ladle face down.  Next, people approach the shrine, give an offering of a coin, bow twice, ring the bell (to summon the attention of your ancestors), clasp hands and bow their heads to make a wish, then bow again.  This is my kind of speed religious observance.  🙂The next few photos are of the Main Shrine at the base of the complex, including the amazing detail in the ceiling of the shrine.

This building is called the Gonden, but I have no idea why or what it houses.  😀There are many places through this shrine complex, and several others I have already seen, that allow for people to tie their fortunes or wishes to the shrine.  This complex had about four places that I found that you could purchase a fortune, or a fox head, or a miniature tori gate, or a wooden tablet, from the Juyosho (place where good luck charms and amulets for festivals and prayers are sold) and write your name and your wishes on them to leave behind.

And finally the famous orangey red gates that go on for kilometers.  Such an amazing sight and so distinctive in the landscape.  At the moment the bottom sections of the shrine have lanterns hung up for the upcoming Gion Festival this week, which has added to the beauty of these images.

More lanterns at the Omakaru Stone shrine, which is about 1/3 of the way into the shrine complex… there are two lots of torii gates making their way to this point, it is the area where most people visit and pay their respects, so there is an up and a down tunnel of torii gates here.The Kamimassha gate which leads on from the Omakaru Stone shrine further up the mountain.

We decided to make offerings at the Omakaru Stone shrine by purchasing a fox head to write on and hang on the shrine, wishing for good health and safe travels for the whole family.

MAP

The torii gates from the outside of the tunnels…

There are many many red foxes on this mountain and they are most commonly observed at dawn and dusk, and have been long the sacred symbol of the area.  The fox is considered the messenger of Inari, the god of the rice harvest, and the complex is full of dozens of stone foxes.  This one in the garden carries a key to the granary in it’s mouth…

These little buildings are actually the administrative buildings for the complex, I love that everything follows the design form and blends into the area, and that they haven’t put a big ugly ’60s concrete toilet block of an admin building in the middle of the place.Tori gates to buy, to either put your name on and hang on the frames below or to take home from your journey as a pilgrims token.

There are lanterns all over Kyoto, we are told they are for the Gion Festival, and we plan on doing a lot of hunting around at night to see them all lit up over the next few nights.

After wandering around the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine for a few hours, we decided to get out of the heat and go visit the Kyoto National Museum.  Yes, air condition is of great appeal at the moment, even walking a couple of hundred metres on the flat to get to the bus stop has us all working up a sweat and ready to keep over.

8sSvLzo9dAIt9dFX.jpg5Y9Zt53kEqmAbdZ2.jpg
The National Musuem has a pretty impressive collection of traditional Japanese Buddhist and Shinto wood and bronze sculptures from the 10-12th Centuries, Buddhist ritual masks from the as early as the 8th – 12th Centuries, Japanese lacquer objects, Buddhist metal works including armour, Japanese textiles including kimono from the 1700s onwards, calligraphy that focuses on connoisseurship and that is just the first level galleries.  There are also galleries dedicated to archaeological relics dating back to 2000BCE, ceramics from the Han through to Qing dynasties, Illustrated painted handscrolls, medieval ink paintings, Edo period paintings and some Chinese paintings… and of course you are not allowed to photograph any of it!  Which sucks, but I have a few pics from a guide book that I have added in here.
faCDt4fdDckdSdme.jpgdttkP7A2hR6P56Gs.jpgJl8oRc6WFJ92LK1X.jpgK1zsh2uI3cy6CVIx.jpguFK0XV9UDrGjfi1D.jpg0fM4j0FvpJto0q71.jpgOutside was a replica of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’… I have no logical explanation to offer as to what the hell it is doing here?!? It stands out like dogs ball and makes no sense!  If anyone figures that shit out – do let me know!
LkrbqPepbVqBBchS.jpg

 

Another Great Wave of Disappointment

image

The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏 Kanagawa Oki Nami Ura?, “In the well of a wave off Kanagawa”), also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, is a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. It was published sometime between 1830 and 1833[1] in the late Edo period as the first print in Hokusai’s series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (富嶽三十六景 Fugaku sanjūrokkei?).  It is Hokusai’s most famous work, and one of the best recognized works of Japanese art in the world.  It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats off the coast of the prefecture of Kanagawa.  While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is, as the picture’s title suggests, more likely to be a large rogue wave or okinami (“wave of the open sea”).[2]  As in all the prints in the series, it depicts the area around Mount Fuji under particular conditions, and the mountain itself appears in the background.

Copies of the print are in many Western collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the British Museum in London, the Art Institute of Chicago, LACMA in Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne,[3] and in Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, France, amongst many other collections.

This is Mr K’s favourite piece of art. Which is by way of saying, it’s the only piece of art he has ever been interested in or appears to enjoy, because well… as loathe as I am to admit he – the poor sod has no genuine appreciation for art in general, whatsoever. Such a sad miserable artless life Mr K does live. 😉 Anyway, onto my story. Mr K’s enjoyment of this piece goes way back – his iPhone 3 had a Great Wave gelaskin back in the day and now his iPhone 6+ sports it as a screen background, as does his PC at home these many years… yes, it’s this level of die hard dedication and appreciation we are talking about here *tongue firmly in cheek*.imageSo back up a few years to Mr K’s first trip to the MET in New York… he was excited to think he was going to be able to see The Great Wave on display.  Wandered the galleries, wandered some more galleries – but alas, no Great Wave.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, he eventually resorted to asking for directions to the piece, but was told that it was a very delicate object and is not currently on display.  Naturally Mr K was disappointed to miss out..

After that trip, he came home and researched and found out that the National Gallery of Victoria has a copy of this magnificent woodblock print, and he felt this would be an excellent thing as his work takes him to Melbourne semi-regularly. However, each and every time he has found himself in Melbourne for work, ‘We are sorry, sir, but that item is not on display.’ and he has missed out again.  Shit and bugger, Mr K has been repeatedly thwarted and disappointed in his efforts to see it in Melbourne.

Last year in March 2014 – off to NYC again, this time with me!  And I drag him all over all the MET galleries, at some point he abandons me for the New York Transport museum which is way downtown and I’m still wandering the MET.  We are pretty sure it’s not out, but ask around anyway, and yet again – no, the Great Wave is not on display at this time either, however we are happy to keep flogging merchandise featuring the image of the Great Wave on tote bags, pencil cases, coffee mugs and umbrellas, in the gift shop!  😉  More piss and vinegar from Mr K as he misses it, yet again.

imageimageA couple of weeks later we are at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and I stumble on some notepaper featuring the Great Wave in the MFA gift shop and ask the staff why they have items featuring the Great Wave… the response, “Well, the MFA has a copy of that woodblock print so we have stuff with the Great Wave all over it, but it’s not on display at the moment because it’s really old and fragile.” The look on Mr K’s face is priceless… waves, waves, everywhere, but nary an original to be seen. He’s getting seriously annoyed by this time, well as seriously annoyed as your average Canadian gets!

imageAt some point in amongst all this Mr K reads a news article detailing how there was a large set of Hokusai’s original prints from the ‘Views of Mt Fuji’ series, in the Wellness Spa of the Costa Concordia, which some drunken cruise liner captain sailed aground on January 13th, 2012 in an ill conceived game of high stakes chicken with an island off Italy.  The tragedy of it all… Mr K is lamenting his poor decision to not have been born sole heir to an enormous coal mining fortune; for if he had, he claims he would have purchased a copy of it himself by now, and have it on loan to the modest Queensland Art Gallery so he could enjoy it whenever he wanted.  Such determination to see this one piece of art!

image

So here we are, 2014 and the planning begins for a trip to Japan.  Mr K is convinced he will finally see a copy of his beloved Great Wave off Kanagawa somewhere in Japan.  So he starts doing his research on every art museum he can find in all the cities and towns we are going to be visiting.  Without fail, every single one of them comes up empty… not a single copy of this artwork can be found listed as on display in any of the major art museums of Japan!  Mr K is very disappointed – yet again.  Which brings us up to date – when two days ago, we were shopping in Kagurazaka and I see the now ubiquitous, Great Wave on a fan…
IMG_6500Naturally, I decide that I really should buy one, (which gains me a growl of indignation from Mr K) and just on spec while the sales assistant is ringing up my purchase and wrapping up my new fan, I decide to ask him 1) does he speak English, and upon affirmation that yes he does a little, 2) does he know where we can go to see this piece of art?  Well, off the top of his head, he doesn’t know… but he turns to his computer and starts searching the internet for us.  On all the Japanese websites that we can’t read and English Google doesn’t deal with so well.  In a few moments, he turns back to us and starts writing down an address for the Ota Memorial Museum of Art, and tells us that it looks like they have a copy on display.  Mr K is watching this exchange with increasing interest until eventually he walks out of the store with a huge grin and a piece of paper that will lead him to the promised Great Wave.

We head off to the war museum and shrine as planned, stop for some lunch and then head to the Ota Memorial Museum of Art.  A bit of a walk, a couple of trains and subway stops later and we arrive at the museum… only to discover this:
imageFor those of us who don’t speak Japanese, myself included, this poster tells us that the piece in question will be on display from the 1st of August until the 27th of September 2015.  Well, as luck would have it, we are back from our cruise on Monday the 3rd of August and have the whole day free before we fly out for China at stupid o’clock on Tuesday the 4th of August… those of you who ‘museum’ a lot, can probably feel what is coming next.  Yes, that is right.  The Ota Memorial Museum is CLOSED ON MONDAYS is the great tradition of museums the world over.  At this point all decorum is lost and Mr K is pouting like a small child who has just been told he can ride the pony and see the clowns, but at the last moment is sent to bed. Oh, the complete lack of comprehension at such bad luck expressed by someone normally in possession of a Parking Fairy, it’d be hilarious if it weren’t so ridiculous by now.

So poor Mr K is thwarted yet again… and to absolutely and finally rub salt into the wound, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is holding celebrations to commemorate the centennial of their Asian Collections later this year, and I am going to be there to see it, but Mr K will not be with me.

imageAfter all the chasing and research that has gone into finding a copy of this woodblock print on display, I would actually like to see the piece as well… but there is a little part of me, thinking – perhaps I should avoid it at the MET in September, so that we can continue to hunt for it together.  🙂