Today was the Pride Parade in London which marks 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The city looked like a Lush shop had exploded; rainbow flags and glitter galore. As I sat on the tube I overheard a parent explaining to her two little girls why there was a man dressed in a PVC policeman outfit holding hands with a girl kitted out as Wonder Woman. ‘It’s for a Pride March’, she said, ‘people get dressed up and celebrate that people can love who they want’. I sat feeling pretty lucky that I’m in a country where I can overhear that on public transport.
I’m am ashamed to say that I judged a museum by its title. The Museum of English Rural Life (abbreviated to MERL) just doesn’t sound too exciting unless you have an unhealthy attraction to farm yards. I grew up in the countryside and my first word was ‘tractor’, you’d think I’d be the target audience; but I just wasn’t sold . . . it’s nice when your wrongly negative assumptions are blown away.
When you are in a foreign country and get a chance to visit a museum that gets very few overseas visitors you obviously take it. This is what I did with the Baoji Bronzeware Museum anyway.
Tokyo is a bubbling hot pot of culture. Not only is there the yearly blossom festivals and beautiful shrines, there are plenty of wonderful, interesting and sometimes just bizarre things to see and do. Want to drive a go cart around the city dressed as Mario, sure; Fancy a cuppa with an owl, standard; Want to see how many business men can squeeze on a train, that’s just daily phenomenon. If these things sound up your street, Tokyo is the place for you.
‘I actually think this might be better than the Natural History Museum in London’ . . . direct quote from my long suffering partner in crime who I drag around every museum going.
The world of Ghibli is just magical. Studio Ghibli creates incredible animations; it’s like Disney, but more in touch with nature and often a bit darker . . . and I love it! The Ghibli Museum has therefore been on my bucket list for a long time and there was no chance I was going to Tokyo and missing it.
If I’d left my heart in Tokyo, it wouldn’t have been down by the river (don’t you know) . . . it would have been here.
I just really don’t like beer (sorry), but I do like museums. My partner in crime, loves beer but is probably sick of museum by now . . . this place was like the perfect compromise, and turned out to work surprisingly well in my favour as this museum received an “it’s pretty good here isn’t it” seal of approval.
It’s a tricky one to find without google maps as it’s on the 5th floor of an unassuming tower block; not where you expect to find a museum, but I guess kites traditionally hang out fairly high up.
Set in beautiful grounds that were dripping with cherry blossom, the Tokyo National Museum is a sprawling mass of culture. It boasts a collection of around 116,000 objects including 88 National Treasures and 634 Important Cultural Properties (as of March 2017). The regular galleries display 3,000 of these works at any one time . . . a formula for cultural overload and happy museum exhaustion.