Thursday, July 29, 2010

Omori Shell mound, Shinagawa Historical Museum, Museum for Eurasian Cultures and Yokohama Harbour Area

My first stop was the historic site of the Omori shell mound. E. S. Morse came to Japan in the late 19th century to study Brachiopoda, but when he spotted the shell mound from his train, he started to excavate it in 1877 with astonishingly accuracy. Here is a memorial plaque near the original site:

The site in the 19th century and in 1984:

His book was published in English and Japanese:

Floor tiles near the NTT building which is now adjacent to the Omori shell mound site:

In the History Museum (Shinagawa Rekishi-kan) a wide section is dedicated to the Jomon shell mound of Omori:

I will spare you Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun artefacts (unless you ask for it). But the museum covers the whole history of the Shinagawa area, here is a nice medical book:

It has also a little garden with a tea house, koi pool, and a Jomon hut outline:

I still had time to visit one more museum, so I went to the Eurasian Cultures Museum. And I will show you only one (!) item, a 3rd century clay figurine from Iran, although it was very interesting and had a special exhibition about domesticated animals in Eurasia on top!

After two museums I spent the rest of the day exploring the harbour area of Yokohama. This is - no, not in Vienna - but somewhere near Nihon Odori Avenue:

I had bought a bento and sat down in Yokohama Park close to the stadium where a baseball game must have been very very exciting. People were screaming inside the stadium. The stadium is home of the Yokohama Baystars, so maybe they were playing :)

From Yokohama Park it is only a short walk to the harbour where you can see all kind of ships. Here the Nippon Maru, now a training ship:

The Portugues NRP Sagres anchoring at the moment in Yokohama:

and a Japanese military ship:

and it's crew:

From there I walked back to the hotel via Cosmo world, an amusement park near the harbour:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yokohama History Museum

Even if some people think archaeology is boring, this won't let me stop from posting beautiful artefacts. Maybe there are others who will appreciate beauty in archaeology ('others' please comment!!!).
So, after yesterday's first impression of Yokohama from my hotel room window

I went to the 'Yokohama History Museum'. Although they didn't match the enormous number of artefacts from the Nanzan University museum yesterday, I was very impressed with their presentation. The artefacts were well chosen to illustrate different aspects of prehistoric and historic life in the Yokohama area. Here a Jomon vessel (sorry, but I just love this time period with its beautiful pottery):

and a beautiful anthropomorphic vessel from the Yayoi period:

And equally beautiful Haniwa from the Kofun period:

As already mentioned the presentation of the artefacts were mostly connected to a theme, like the contact and diffusion of local ware during the Yayoi period:

They also had a park in which they reconstructed the moated Yayoi village (Otsuka) and some tombs on the original site:

The burial hill with the wooden coffin in the centre part:

They also did a lot for children, they even had an 'outdoor' manga:

To regenerate I stopped at the health food shop I saw on my way to the museum. It had a small café with lunch options. Here is my vegan lunch, the plant's lunch:

and, to have a closer look at the aubergine with amazake sauce:

Unfortunately these are handycam photos, and it tasted by far better than the photo looks :(

On my way back I strolled through Chinatown. Here is the temple (don't look too closely, the stone work is really really bad in comparison with Chinese temples)

The most important thing about Chinatown seems to be the food anyway

Food stores make up about 60 % of Chinatown, the rest are of it is a little museum, above mentioned temple, and shops, shops with clothes, tea, and above all, bric-a-brac, or o-miyage in Japanese:

That's all for today, hope it wasn't too boring ^-^

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nanzan University Museum and my last day in Nagoya

On the day of my departure I went to the Nanzan University Museum of Anthropology. What a lovely Museum! Maybe not so user-friendly for the tourist but they had a lot of Jomon artefacts.

Isn't that just beautiful?

A Mid-Jomon crown formed vessel

A Dogu clay figurine
Urushi lacquer ware
The museum's guardians :)

A delicious vegan melon-pear ice ended a succesful morning and I went off to Yokohama with the Nozomi Shinkansen.

Atsuta Shrine

The Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya was built by the widow of Yamato Takeru who lived around AD 400. Prince Takeru also had a holy sword which he got from his aunt Yamato, the high priestress of the Ise Shrine. The god Susanoo found this sword in the body of the great eight-headed serpent. Kusanagi, which is the name of the sword, is supposedly held in the Atsuta Shrine. However, nobody since the 7th century has access apart from the high priests, so nobody knows how it really looks,or if it exists at all. The shrine was moved to its present location. It also venerates several great gods and goddesses.
Anyway, Atsuta-sama (another name for the shrine) was the largest shrine complex I have ever seen. A huge prayer hall, several smaller shrines, a treasure hall, a Ramen restaurant, an artificial lake, and, and, and. It was huge. Here some photos from the shrine:

The prayer hall

In the hall just happened a yakuyoukei ceremony, an elderly lady explained to me. It must have something to do with a healing ceremony. I didn't quite get the details ;) but it was awsome, an orchestra of 'men in black' played some monotone music and some richly clad young women performed a fan dance, very impressive. 

The necessary cleansing before entering the shrine

A bridge in the shrine area

A Dogu Statue - I was delighted :)

A sacred tree with wishes bound to it

Stones in the pond arranged to look like a turtle and with real turtles sitting on it

 A real one

A spider net in a tree

A serpent (not eight-headed)

A koi

and a stone lantern

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kumazemi, the end of summer and Miharashidai yayoi settlement

Listen to the tsuku-tsuku boshi song of the summer cicadas while looking at my post today :). This special sound is the indication of the end of the summer season. I guess this is meant to depict a summer cicada:

and here a real photo of a 'kumazemi', a bear cicada:

Miharashidai is a moated yayoi settlement with ongoing excavations financed by Nagoya City. You can see part of the pits and a reconstructed house in a roofed hall:

In 1947 they found a doutaku-shaped clay figurine (a doutaku is a shinto bell, but you find this form already in yayoi as clay or as bronze bells). This was the trigger for a first excavation in 1964 and there have constantly been excavations till the present.

A beautiful takatsuki (pedestaled vessel), found during last year's excavation:

a soukoudoki vessel:

Incised decorations:

a pointed-based cooking vessel:

In case you are getting bored from too much vessels, here some loom weights for a change:

Happy archaeologists:

And some real archaeologists:

After the project leader noticed a sincere interest, he let me walk into the excavation and take photos. I had to 'pay' for it in letting him having photos of a gaijin in his trenches. But it was well worth it :). They found a second moat surrounding the northern part of the village and here is part of a midden area with pot sherds looking out between the shells:

They also found WW II relics, including German bombs and stuff. Here is part of a cooking installation from the officer's buildings: