Tag Archives: setagaya

Spring is Here!

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The weather here in Tokyo has been insanely nice for the past couple of weeks. Although it’s technically still winter, the end of February and the beginning of March have been absolutely beautiful, in the mid to high sixties. In Japan, this means the blooming of the iconic Ume trees, or Japanese plum: the bright pink flowering trees that closely resemble the more famous Sakura, or cherry blossom, which blooms a few weeks later, in April.

Very close to where I’m living in Shinagawa, the Ume have been in full bloom in Rinshi no Mori Koen, something I discovered by accident while out for a run. The park was packed with people picnicking under the trees, taking pictures and spending time with their families. The park itself is gorgeous any day, full of winding trails and one of the most diverse collection of trees in Japan (it was formerly a government run arboretum), but the blooming trees really made it look picturesque, the kind of platonic ideal people think of when they think of Japan.

The other day, we had an undergraduate holiday in the middle of the week. After sleeping in, which was much needed, midterms are in full swing here, I decided to take my bike and head out to Setagaya to see the Todoroki Ravine, the only ravine within Tokyo, tucked away in the quiet residential neighborhood of Todoroki. It took about an hour by bicycle to get to from my house, but it was a very easy and pleasant ride that basically stayed on the same major road the entire time, something which I was incredibly excited to see when I pulled up the directions on Google. Even after living here for (almost) two semesters, navigating unknown parts of the city on a bike is still very daunting.

The park is easy to miss; hidden from the street, you have to go down a steep flight of steps that lead down the side of the cliff to a path below. At the bottom of the ravine is a small river, and the path follows along, crossing here and there, leading to a waterfall capped with stone dragon heads and a small shop selling Japanese snacks and sweets at the end, all in the shadow of a large temple.

The ravine is gorgeous, filled with lush green trees and shrubs. Like many of these secluded green spots within the city, I have trouble remembering that I’m in the most populated metropolis on earth. These places definitely do not fit the image I had of Tokyo before I came over here, all hellishly crowded commuter trains and Blade Runner-esque neon cityscapes. Tokyo, of course, is full of those, but also so much more. I read recently in an article published by the Guardian that “Tokyo is a million different cities”, something that I’ve come to agree with wholeheartedly, and not just because of the way the different wards are incorporated. The city can feel like a world in and of itself.

Art History Field Trip: The Setagaya Art Museum

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Being an Art History major, I’m really excited to find out that TUJ’s classes incorporate many field trips into the curriculum. This week my professor brought us to the Setagaya Art Museum to view an exhibit on the avant-garde Japanese art group Jikken Kobo. Since no photos were allowed in the museum, here are a collection of pictures from our pleasant walk to the museum.

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Another plus to the field trip was the opportunity to view a new Tokyo neighborhood. Setagaya was lovely on this cloudy day.

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The walk to the museum from the train station offered countless views of the area, including this walkway above the highway. These can be seen all over Tokyo. They’re a great use of design to impact the flow of pedestrians.

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These passages also offer great views of the sprawling city streets from above.

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The layout of Tokyo is always unexpected, offering surprises at every corner.

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Even with the massive urban development, there is an attention to nature, especially in the numerous parks around the city. The Setagaya Museum is located in Kinuta Family Park, which was filled with families enjoying the area.

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After a 20 minute walk through Setagaya, we approached the museum. The building was surrounded with beautiful sculptures.

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While this is hardly representative of the exhibit itself, the photo in the sign offers a hint at the collection of works by Jikken Kobo, which included photos, sculptures, paintings, drawings, film, music, and significant historical documents of the group’s exhibitions during the mid-20th century.

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Adding to our enjoyment, our professor decided to bring along his infant to see the art as well. Adorable!