The Watarium

07Sep07

I’m excited to visit Japan this fall again after an absence of two years. I’ll visit friends in Tokyo, Osaka, and maybe Beppu. Before that I’ll stop in Beijing to visit a friend.

Watarium

The Watarium in Tokyo.

In Tokyo, I’m excited to see the Watarium Museum. It’s a contemporary art museum in Japan. Now they’re having an exhibit of Barry McGee stuff. When I will visit in the fall, they will be having an exhibit on Minakata Kumagusu . For those who haven’t heard of this eccentric figure from Japanese botanical history, you can read all about him at the website of the Minakata Kumagusu Memorial Museum (in English). He lived in the early 20th century and was a autodidact.  He would stay away from school, prefering to transcribe books and teach himself. He traveled around the US, then on to London, before finally settling in Wakayama Prefecture.

He had many many notebooks, the drawing of which apparently form the basis of the art show in the fall/winter. I’m excited to learn about this self-made man. In the Meiji Era, the government tried to consolidate religious power in Shinto shrines by closing Buddhist temples, and Minakata fought against this. He saw the local temples as important ecological preserves and wanted to maintain them. As the Minakata Memorial Museum writes on its site, “The ecological relation between nature and human beings, which Kumagusu looked at through the studies of biology, folklore, ethnology and religion, is still something we should always keep in mind.”  Excerpts from the 60 diaries he kept:

 

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