I had a few days in Tokyo before JCDCG3 to run around being a tourist, visiting art museums and such. The next batch of my photos from Tokyo is all of sculptures that I saw in this time. Despite being from vastly different times (Jōmon to modern) I felt that they fit together well in their use of stylization and form.
This strange and much-repaired creature was one of the first things I saw after leaving the train from the airport. It’s part of a set on the grounds of the Tokyo University of Science, at the base of the steps where we took the conference group photo.
If you want a quick overview of Japanese culture through the ages, or just to see a lot of shiny swords, the place to go is the Honkan (Japanese Gallery) and Heiseikan (Japanese Archaeology Gallery) of the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno. This female haniwa figure comes from the same time as the late Roman empire, but to my eyes with her crisp uniform she could be a modern policewoman or traffic inspector. The Gallery of Hōryū-ji Treasures in the same museum is also worth seeing, especially the big array of dozens of Buddha and Kannon figures, but it was too dark for me to take any photos.
The main show at the National Art Center in Roppongi, while we were there, was a retrospective of the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti. That doesn’t sound very Japanese, but there is a Japanese connection: one of his close friends and favorite subjects was philosopher Isaku Yanaihara. The captions described Giacometti as working very hard to capture his subjects exactly as he saw them, but if so his vision must have been a bit off-kilter, with rough surfaces, exaggeratedly small or (in this case) large scale, skeletonized forms, and a deep perspective that encourages many of his works to be viewed head-on rather than from an angle.