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A day in Tokyo in 1963

1963年の東京と今日の東京はどう違いますか。面白い昭和の短い映画はそのころの日常を見られます。

This almost 50 year old short firm provides a nostalgic view of daily life in 1963 Tokyo: a family wakes up in the morning, takes the train to work, shops in Ginza, and travels through the metropolis. Showa Tokyo’s trains and sheer density don’t look that different than today. While fashion changes and the city gets even bigger, it is amazing how much remains the same. (Via @rolandkelts).

Bonsai Museum and Shibamata with Nodai

Kobayashi Kunio's Bonsai Museum in Edogawa-ku

Last weekend I had the great fortune to go with Professor Hattori of Nodia’s Garden Lab and about twelve students to visit Kobayashi Kunio sensei’s Bonsai Museum in Edogawa-ku. Kobayashi-sensei has won numerous Japanese and international awards for his mastery of Japanese bonsai. By chance I had met him, his foreign apprentice Valentin, and other students a few weeks ago at the Iriya Asa Gao (morning glory) festival.

The Bonsai Museum, open six days a week in Shitamachi, far exceeded my imagination. Our large group was met at the gate by one of the Japanese apprentices. Initially we were left to admire the astounding bonsais set on simple wood stands in the courtyard. I noticed Valentin and another apprentice lifting and carry several plants, and later realized that they placing the trees in the very traditionally designed rooms of the ten year old Museum.

matthew and link at bonsai museum

On first view, the dozens of trees are overwhelming: each a miniature world combining meticulously crafted tree, moss, in ceramics or on stone bases. Some of the trees are 600 and even 1,000 years old, and all display a refined beauty that is a mix of taking natural elements to extreme conditions. In a photo book describing his career, Kobayashi sensei says that early on he often tried too hard and in retrospect apologizes to those trees that he killed.

2 formal rooms in bonsai museum

The Museum structure is a series of five interconnected formal tatami rooms, including one set up for tea ceremony with a small door entrance and area for coals and a kettle. Each room has one bonsai tree arranged with a scroll, small figurine, and short table in the ceremonial, slightly elevated section. Kobayashi-sensei worked closely with architects and designers to create an ideal environment for the contemplation of his master works. It is hard to believe the building is only 10 years old; it was so well designed that on a hot summer day, you could feel cool breezes.

Hattori sensei at bonsai museum

More photos of Bonsai Museum, a master lesson from Kobayashi sensei, and lunch in Shibamata after the jump.

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