Our first stop was the Ueno Onshi Park. The park was established in 1873 on lands formerly belonging to the temple of Kan'ei-ji and considered as Japan’s first public park. As we walked through, it reminded me of Central Park, NYC. It was a perfect composition of urban and nature – a place to escape the masses and complexity. The paths were used for walking, jogging and sitting basically for vertical motion. Unlike other parks, the benches were facing the pond not the path. It indicated that while sitting one should engage with nature and the moment as the reality of everyday life (city life) lurks in background.
As we continued walking, we ended up on a main street around a university campus. The buildings were a composition of different architectural style. Thus far in Tokyo, we have seen a lot of compositions of different architectural styles, materials, etc intertwining. I have no criticisms because I’ve loved the surprise around every corner.
Tadao Ando’s International Library of Children's Literature was next on the agenda however we completely missed it and entered the museum across the street which happened to be Tokyo National Museum (TNM). TNM comprised of five galleries (including gardens and teahouses) as individual buildings on an enclosed site. Each building varied in architectural style: Honkan (Japanese Gallery) was designed by Watanabe Jin and mirrored a more eastern "emperor's crown style". In contrast, The Heiseikan reflected early modernism. It was also the only building we entered and Kyle provided a kind donation. He left his umbrella at the stand sadly it was a costly donation because it rained towards the end of the day. For more information on TNM http://www.tnm.jp/
The best part of the day was walking into Le Corbusier’s National Museum of Western Art (NMWA). Personally, I admire the man and his theories/pedagogy on architecture and city planning. I was unaware of the full schedule therefore when we turned the corner and I saw a piloti. I was elated. Secondly, a few of Augstin Rodin’s (my favorite French sculpture) sculptures were dispersed throughout the site. I was certainly on an artistic high. For more information on NMWA http://www.nmwa.go.jp/en/index.html
Due to the time constraint, I did not have the opportunity to explore the building. However, in comparison to TNM, I preferred the layout of the site and its “openness”. The main open thoroughfare separated NMWA, Tokyo Culture Hall (across form NMWA) and the adjacent train station. We were able to access the site and the open space freely without having to buy a ticket. The site was not physically secluded or enclosed. The open space served as link and a place for social interaction.
As we continued with our tour, we walked to Asakusa. At that point, we were rushing through the streets because we had a train (actually the Shinkansen!) to catch to Kyoto. It was another neighborhood to explore however no different from what I’ve seen so far. However, I would like to go back to explore the markets near the shrine and the different lamp post we encountered.