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Japanese island as unlikely arts installation

Japanese island as unlikely arts installation
New York Times - Aug 28, 2011

(The Benesse House Museum on Naoshima island, where museums, installations and cutting-edge architecture blend with nature in novel ways. A “pumpkin” by Yayoi Kusama looks over the Seto Inland Sea.)

ON a chilly night last November on the tiny island of Naoshima in the Seto Inland Sea of southern Japan, I found myself alone in a dark concrete gallery, a sweater pulled over my pajamas. I was staying at the Benesse House Museum, a 10-room hotel set inside a contemporary art museum, on the island's craggy southern coast, and still battling jet lag. So instead of tossing in bed, I visited the deserted galleries of the museum - guests of the hotel are permitted to wander beyond closing time. Before long, I was transfixed by Bruce Nauman's art installation, "100 Live and Die," a neon billboard of flashing phrases. (New York Times)
'Reptile cafe' opens in Yokohama
Japan Times - Aug 27, 2011
News photo
(Save room for desert: A customer takes a look at a lizard at the Reptile Cafe /
Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse on Aug. 11.)

A "reptile cafe" allowing customers to observe exotic creatures while sipping Chinese tea has opened in Yokohama, the latest among a growing number of such establishments featuring animals. At the Reptile Cafe/Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse, located in Naka Ward, customers are able to observe 40 different reptiles from around a dozen different species kept in tanks and cages, including a 1-meter-long lizard and a 1.7-meter-long snake. The establishment has given a new twist to the trend of cafes showcasing animals, though they are usually more cuddly, like cats or rabbits. (Japan Times)

Drunken dance to hit Tokyo
Japan Times - Aug 26, 2011
News photo
(Dancing shoes: Dancers from the Koenji Awaodori Festival hit the streets last year.)

The Koenji district in the west of Tokyo is known for used-clothing stores and record shops - the perfect spot for any music lover to settle down in. Once a year, it becomes a hub for traditional culture when it hosts the Koenji Awaodori Festival. It is the second largest of its kind in Japan, the largest being held in Tokushima. The "Awa" refers to a feudal administration in Tokushima Prefecture in the 16th century. Back then, to celebrate the opening of Tokushima Castle, the local daimyo (feudal lord) hosted a large party. Drunken revellers stumbled around and this is believed to have been the origin of the dance. (Japan Times)

Mount Fuji prepares to host its final climb in 2011
Japan Times - Aug , 2011
News photo
(Mountain trek: Climbers descend from the top of Mount Fuji.)

The official climbing season for Mount Fuji is drawing to a close on Aug. 31, which means potential climbers should act fast. With 10 stations along the trails, most people begin their ascent to the summit of Japan's most famous mountain from the fifth station. Mount Fuji's crater is surrounded by eight peaks, and it usually takes around 90 minutes to circle the perimeter. Kengamine Peak is the highest point in Japan. (Japan Times)

Tsunami spared Matsushima but swept away bay's tourists
Japan Times - Aug 17, 2011
News photo News photo
(Still standing: Yuko Isoda, general manager of the Taikanso hotel in Matsushima,
Miyagi Prefecture, poses at the inn's entrance on Aug. 4. Below: A March 31 photo of
Matsushima Bay shows how the town escaped large-scale destruction.)

Matsuo Basho, arguably Japan's most famous haiku poet, is said to have been at a loss for words when he first saw the hundreds of pine-clad islets scattered around Matsushima Bay during a 17th-century journey to the Tohoku region. When the monster March 11 tsunami wiped out towns all along the Sanriku coast, killing or leaving thousands of people missing in Miyagi Prefecture, Matsushima's famed cluster of about 260 islets served as a natural buffer, weakening the impact of the waves and largely sparing the coastal town from utter devastation, despite its proximity to the 9.0-magnitude quake's epicenter. (Japan Times)

Fascinating Japan
The Star - Aug 13, 2011

(Picture-p erfect: A tourist snapping pictures of the gassho-zukuri styled houses
in Shirakawago, a Unesco World Heritage site.)

The mere mention of Japan these days conjures up images of earthquakes, tsunami and radiation leaks, so I was prepared for the worst when I was told that I would be sent to the Land of the Rising Sun for an assignment. However, all my reservations melted away during my eight-day stay as I discovered a postcard-like world of beautiful scenery, interesting tourist spots and hectic cities. Japan is an island state made up of 6,852 islands and a population of over 127 million, making it the 10th largest populated country in the world. Although it is still unwise to travel to the disaster hit areas in the north, many travellers are literally grabbing the dirt cheap tour packages now on offer following the tsunami and nuclear disaster to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit this otherwise notoriously expensive country. (The Star)

Hillsides of Kyoto to flame up with words
Japan Times - Aug 12, 2011

The world's largest bonfires will illuminate the hillsides of Kyoto's surrounding mountains Aug. 16 bringing this year's Bon festival to a close. The Gozan no Okuribi, or ceremonial bonfires, are formed in the shapes of various Japanese characters. The most famous of these is lit on Mount Daimonji and takes the form of the kanji "dai," meaning "large." After that bonfire is set ablaze at around 8 p.m., four other gigantic fires are lit in approximately 10-minute intervals. By 8:30 p.m. all the hillsides will be alight, each lasting for about 30 minutes. (Japan Times)

'Cafe in Mito 2011 - Relationships In Color'
Japan Times - Aug 12, 2011

Mito's Contemporary Art Center was forced to close its doors after suffering some damage due to the March 11 earthquake, but it has reopened for its annual "Cafe in Mito" - now in its ninth year. The event's name stands for "Communicable Action for Everyday," and its aim is to present art for the masses in an informal environment. This year's exhibition seeks to reemphasize that original aim through a grand collaboration with a throng of creators the art center has worked with over the past 20 years. Top artists whose works are returning include ones from the visually impressive duo Christo and Jean-Claude, from Mika Ninagawa, famed for her brightly colored editorial photographs of flowers and landscapes, and examples of the intricate work of internationally renowned artist Yamaguchi Akira. (Japan Times)

Places to visit in Japan
Jakarta Globe - Aug 7, 2011

Since the March 11 disaster, Japan has struggled to attract visitors back to its shores. Earlier this year, the world watched in horror as the country was hit by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami and a nuclear crisis, all in quick succession. The disaster left almost 25,000 people dead or missing, while the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant plunged Japan into its worst crisis since World War II. As horrifying as the images of these natural disasters were, what caught the attention of many people around the world was the resilience of the Japanese people, who showed courage and solidarity throughout. It is this same spirit of perseverance that has led Japan to launch a campaign to invite visitors back to the country, just five months after the disaster. (Jakarta Globe)

By TS on Aug 30, 2011
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tag : Travel_News, Cool_Japan



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Author:T. SATOH