My visit to Ebisu encapsulates some of the reasons for my recent first time visit to Tokyo: the cultural offerings, the food, and fresh experiences. I daresay the landscape and geography have much to recommend themselves too, but, alas, time cut short my tasting of those.
I started my day by once again navigating the metro, to hotfoot it over to Ebisu, where I planned to visit the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum.
First impressions of Ebisu? That’s it’s an upscale part of town. A quick stop off first for a healthy salad and prosciutto lunch at Dean & DeLuca. Then, a walk past fashionable clothes shops and a long escalator walkway led me to entrance of the museum. The two exhibitions I opted for cost £10 and were worth it: the 2019 World Press Photo award winners, and Shimada Tadashi, a Japanese photography who documents wildlife through his camera, especially birds, and especially kingfishers.
Nature photography isn’t really my thing but I’m so glad I tried something different. His photographs are terrific, traced from his early 1965 offerings (taken with a pretty impressive advanced-looking Canon) to stunning photos taken in Japan and other parts of the world.
Not only does he capture the exuberant colours and characteristics of the animals, but in my opinion, the ‘background’ landscapes are beautifully shot. There’s one with a hapless captured frog caught in the beak of a hungry bird practically ‘moves on the canvas’. Hope that doesn’t sound too pretentious – I think you can surmise that I enjoyed the exhibition, and I think kids too would love it. Note that taking photos of the exhibits isn’t allowed.
The pictures from the World Press Photo Awards exhibition were, as I expected them to be, thought-provoking and well-documented. The winner is that one you’ve seen in the newspapers of the crying little girl looking up, as the viewer can see just the torsos of her mother who is being handcuffed, and the US border officer taking them into custody. Other photos too remind of troubles in Yemen, Afghanistan, Europe, America and other places.
And yet there’s also humour, albeit with an undertone of disquiet. A young Iranian girl, desperate to attend and watch a football match against authority rules, has dressed as a man. A sceptical male-onlooker glances in her direction, perhaps unconvinced by her disguise.* A female boxer’s face is contorted like some horror-cartoon character as her opponent smashes into her. More wry than funny ha ha.
13 September 2019 UPDATE – the death of Sahar Khodayari, however, stops any laughter. Read –
Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/2e379f74-d499-11e9-8367-807ebd53ab77
The natural world
There is a ‘nature’ section at the exhibition too. Photos of the puma (also known as the cougar) capture a creature which is ‘shy’ and retiring yet (both males and females) will stalk their prey for an hour before attacking.
But that wasn’t the end of my afternoon. As I left the museum and walked around, across the way I caught sight of the Yebisa Beer Museum. And who would have thought a museum about beer could be so – engaging. The voyage starts from the beer’s Germanic influence and launch in 1890, to 1904 when a bottle of beer cost ten times more than a bowl of soba noodles, through to its contemporary re-emergence.
And, of course, the journey ends with a real-life draft.