Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ueno and the Shitamachi Museum

So late Friday night we arrived in Yokohama. It was darned hot, much hotter than Ichinoseki. Saturday was a recovery day for me, I did very little but sweat in condition approaching forty degrees inside with no air conditioning. I sat near some fans and watched a great win by beloved bulldogs back in Australia.

Sunday however, I braved steamy Tokyo. It was much hotter than last year, most days pushing the 40 mark. I took the ol' JR line to Ueno. It took an hour from where I was but at least I didn't have to change. Taking the metro around Tokyo often involves 17 confusing changes to go anywhere so an hour with no changes is as relaxing as taking the metro/subway/whatever in Tokyo.

I went to Ueno to see a few museums two years ago, there's also a zoo in the area. It's a good place for tourists with lots to do and see. This time I visited the Shitamachi museum. It's a great little museum which shows how Tokyo was around 100 years ago (principally) before the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 which devastated Tokyo.
There are a few examples inside of dwellings back in that era. Everything was made of wood back then so fire ripped through the city destroying so much of it in 1923. Most houses were heated by a fire so it was always going to be the biggest danger resulting from an earthquake.
House were smaller back then with more people living inside. There was even less protecting the dwellers from the winter too. Tatami mats were still the rage. Later, Tokyo would start to grow upwards which I imagine actually created more space. Back at the turn of the century though, it was much flatter. Safer with the earthquakes I guess.
Upstairs are some examples of life in the 1950s and 1960s. I enjoy this style of museum - not a fan of museums full of rocks as you know! There was a home interior and a bar with various types of interesting board games. Very interesting.
Typical room cica 1900 in Tokyo - Shitamachi Museum

View over lake.
Outside the museum is a large lake, covered in lilies. It's divided into sections. To the north is the zoo, to the east is an open lake with those swan-boats you peddle, in the centre is a temple. To the west is the main Ueno park, with a statue to Saigo Takamori near the southern entrance. He was a samuari who according to 'the guide book' originally supported the Meiji Restoration but changed his mind and disemboweled himself in protest when his opposition failed. Oh well, each to their own.

A worthwhile area of Tokyo to visit for the tourist is Ueno. But I should say, I heartily recommend choosing a different season to visit!
The Statue.

No comments: