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Arts & Museums
Tokoname is known for its many square-shaped kiln chimneys scattered all over town, reminding us that it was pivotal in Japan's ceramic history as one of the Six Ancient Kilns. The pottery on exhibit spans from the Heian, to Kamakura, to Edo eras. What is remarkable is that the oldest ceramics are from the original kilns. Tokoname ceramic production dates to the late 16th century, and still continues. Visit the kilns and workshops behind the institute.
This unusual museum is dedicated to the humble roofing tile, because of the industrial history of the city as a roofing tile producer. Although the subject may be unassuming, one of the more interesting aspects is the onigawara (ornamental tile pieces found on ridge ends and eaves of roofs) often shaped like the faces of ogres to serve as charms to ward off evil spirits and to protect the building. In addition to examples of tiles going back more than a millennium, there are also photographic exhibits of architecture from around the world that utilize the roofing tile.
A stop on the old Tokaido highway, Arimatsu over the years became famous for its production of shibori (tie-dyed fabrics). It continues today to produce quality textiles that are used for both traditional and modern fashions. This hall celebrates the town's history of tie-dye with exhibits of designs, processes and actual examples of the craft. The town holds an annual festival with traditional floats and a hall commemorating these is nearby.
Situated in the tranquil grounds of one of Japan's oldest shrines, this treasure house contains an eclectic collection of religious artifacts and regalia. You'll find temple drums, Tang mirrors, Heian masks, and swords here. One of the swords, the sacred Kuasanagi-no-Tsurugi, is reputed to have been handed to an emperor by goddess Amaterasu Omikami. Out of the 3,000 items on display here, it is incredible that 76 have been named important cultural properties or national treasures. Although the museum is cement, its Shosoin-like style is appealing. The price of admission is JPY300.
The 4,700 square meter Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a sister concern of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), and both of these museums work in collaboration with each other across continents. What catches every visitor's eye while entering the magnificent museum building is a life-like bronze statue of a man on horseback calling out to the spirits. Check website for a list of ongoing exhibitions here.
Located in the center of a major pottery production area, the museum boasts beautiful examples of antique Tokoname and Seto ceramic jars. "The History of Owari (the former name of the area around Nagoya)" display on the second floor gives an overview of the region. The various historical documents, maps, photographs, models and replicas get the viewer further engaged. Noteworthy is the replica of a burial mound containing haniwa (clay figures). Some of these were excavated from the local region. Private donations from local residents together with municipal backing provide the funding for the museum, established in 1969.
In a country with seemingly as many bikes as there are people, it is only natural, perhaps, that there would be a bicycle museum. No doubt there are several in the country, but this one is certainly impressive. There are a total of 200 bicycles on display. Some date as far back as the 1800s, while the most recent ones date to the 1970s. Besides bikes, there are also pictures, posters and other documents and relics that add something to the tour. Note that the place is only open on Saturday, but admission is free.
It is believed that seeds for green tea were brought into Japan by the priest Saicho in 805. The cult of tea aesthetics was widely practiced by the 15th century. The Showa is a museum specializing in tea cult items accounting for nearly 80 percent of the Goto Hoonkai Foundation's collection. There are paintings, calligraphy, Kakiemon porcelain and Raku and Seto tea bowls. Note that at any one time only a few pieces are exhibited.
When it opened in 1988, just before the city's centennial anniversary, this museum added another dimension to Nagoya's cultural scene. The museum's permanent collection includes works by major regional artists and many of the internationally known artists that influenced them, such as Modigliani, Chagall, as well as Mexican Renaissance artists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and Frida Kahlo. Special exhibitions of both domestic and international artists are held regularly.
Although many of the exhibits here are directed towards school children, this is a comprehensive museum, which gives the visitor many chances for a hands on experience, so it is a lot of fun for all ages. The facility is divided into broad areas of life sciences, astronomy and a combination of physics, chemistry and engineering. The museum also houses a large planetarium with programs that change monthly. Special exhibitions are held regularly. Located in Shirawaka Park, the Nagoya City Art Museum is next door.
This small gallery located within a large department store, as often found in Japan, is unique as its exhibitions consistently deal with the fashionable and the trendy. It is also one of the few galleries in town, other than those related to camera dealers and film processors, where you can regularly see exhibits of quality photography, particularly by portrait and fashion photographers.
Design City is one of the nicknames Nagoya has assumed for itself; a moniker not too implausible considering all the industry concentrated in the area. That does not mean, however, that this multifaceted facility focuses on the more mundane aspects of design. With a multiple-purpose hall, gallery, library, and a museum with a permanent exhibit, all with state-of-the-art multimedia facilities, this center covers every conceivable aspect of the creativity of the human mind. Regular exhibitions, international seminars and events are also held here.