Day 10: Ueno Museums

The last day of November was set to be a cloudy and possibly rainy day in Tokyo so we decided to make this our cultural day and visit the many museums in the Ueno area. But first, as usual, we needed some nourishment… Our local McDonald’s, near Suidōbashi Station, served as our breakfast host on this day. Seriously, why don’t we have Chicken McMuffins in Vancouver?

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Okay, back to Ueno. We previously visited Ueno Park in 2016 but mainly stuck to the southern section of the park and the pond area. This time around, we were here to see the museums which are located mainly on the northern section of the park.

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While walking along the large paved concourse to the Tokyo National Museum, we saw dozens of men sweeping up the fallen leaves. The striking thing was that they were all using brooms (in Vancouver, they would use leaf blowers). But these weren’t just your everyday modern broom that you’d find at your local garden centre. No, these looked like the type of hand-made wooden brooms that you’d find at the Salem witch trials. Japan has such a dichotomous culture mixed with both old school charm and high technology.

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The Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest museum in Japan, made up of multiple buildings. The main Honkan building was opened in 1938 and was my favourite of our visit.

This is a copy of ō-yoroi type armour which was used by samurai in feudal Japan with kashidori-style lacing.

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The tea leaf jar to the left dates from the 17th century and features a moon and plum design in overglaze enamel. Meanwhile, the large deep bowl to the right, also from the Edo period, features a flower and bird design in overglaze enamel.

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The large dish flanked by two large covered pots date from the 18th century with a flowering plant design in overglaze enamel. In addition to Japanese artifacts, they also house items from other countries such as the bowl in overglaze enamel to the right which is from the 17th century Ming Dynasty in China.

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Outside the rear of the museum is a small pond and garden area which showcases some more autumn foliage.

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This large horse sculpture is from Sadayuku Goto who studied sculpture while working for the military equestrian bureau in the late 19th century.

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The have a large number of Buddhist statues in the museum, including this Standing Buddha Triad from China. I found it interesting that they also had a statue of Hercules (this was donated from the Iraqi government).

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The Three Colour Glazed Horse dates back to the Tang Dynasty (7th-8th century China).

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Also from the Tang Dynasty is the Vase with Dragon Handles in a three-colour glaze. To the right is a large ewer (water jug) with a dragon and save design which dates from the 16th century Ming Dynasty.

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Outside the museum is the imposing Kuromon Gate, also known as the “Black Gate”. This was formerly the main gate to the Edo-era mansion of the Ikeda family. After being moved to form the main gate of the Togu Palace during the Meiji period, it came to be used for the mansion of Prince Takamatsu. Finally, in 1954, it was moved again to the are outside of the Tokyo National Museum. The gate is only opened during the weekends and on national holidays.

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We spent a bit of time looking at some of the surrounding areas but found that we were getting pretty hungry as it was already well past lunchtime.

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For lunch, I decided that I wanted to try some more yakisoba and I found a spot that specialized in yakisoba called Marusho Yakisoba Hongo, about a 30 minute walk from the museum. Although it was a bit difficult finding this restaurant, it was well worth the effort… especially for the uni and scallop yakisoba.

We found out that the restaurant was about halfway between our hotel and Ueno Park so we wound up walking the rest of the way back to our hotel. Needless to say, my feet were pretty tired by the time we got back to our hotel.

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It might seem like all we do is eat, but our yakisoba meal was just to tide us over until dinner. This time around, we stayed around the LaQua area and headed up to the 9th floor where we had an amazing meal at Shunpu Banri. This restaurant is a bit more high-end compared to some of the hole-in-the-wall ramen places that we’ve been eating at but it felt welcoming to tourists and the food was so good.

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