Samurai, sashiko, shibori and smiles
The Tokyo National Museum did us a huge favour in using one whole floor to create a "Highlights of Japanese Art" exhibit in the Honkan Gallery. Not that we wouldn't have looked further for such things, but unless one has a specialist interest, looking at a huge collection of similar things can be a challenge. Here we could see the best of each particular category presented in chronological order with a clear explanation and plenty of background information. This was a really great place to begin. We loved the ink paintings, the early Buddhist art and the tea ceremony treasures, but around the corner was what I was looking forward to seeing
There it was, the cutest little Samurai suit, with navy blue braiding and sashiko stitching on his kneepads! What's more, around the back was the most beautifully tied knot on his helmet!
I could have stayed and drawn details for hours, but there was more to see.
Several beautiful kimonos (this is a C19 furisode)
The embroidery on this one was perfect, as if it had been done yesterday and the sheen on the threads a perfect contrast to the matt background.
I thought it was my favourite, but then we went around the corner and saw
Indigo dyed silk with simple embroidery and just the odd bit of shibori detail
That was just about it for the exhibition, but in the last room there was a crowd busily doing something around a circular bar. We had to take a look.
Two elderly gentlemen were running an activity for visitors to the museum with a huge collection of rubber stamps of traditional Japanese motifs and cutout kimono postcards. Everyone was having fun creating their own design with the help of a leaflet clarifying the significance of each motif. Yes, of course I had to have a go...
Before we left, we did a little tour of the museum shop, got ourselves drinks from the ubiquitous vending machine and availed ourselves of the "facilities" where we encountered another bit of Japanese ingenuity:
The wash handbasin which dispenses soap (top left), water (top right) and blowdries hands (bottom, front) without the need to touch anything. Simply placing a hand in reach of the appropriate sensor activates the process.
The final little amusement was to collect our umbrellas from the dedicated lock-up area outside the entrance.
With so many pleasing little aspects to life here, is there any wonder we seem to be smiling all the time?