Friday, November 27, 2009

Ebisu Photography Art Museum

Back to Ebisu! Geri was invited by a friend to check out the photography art museum in Ebisu and she asked if I wanted to come along. I love art museums, so I happily agreed. Of course, when I told my host mother where I was going, she said "eeeeeh?! Mezurashii yo! Harajuku ja nai no?!" ("Whaaaat? That's rare! Not Harajuku?!!"). Well, it seems I've developed a reputation around here, lol. But hey, better to have some reputation than none at all, lol. But really, I DO like to do more cultured, intellectual things than just clothes shopping and concerts, haha.

Anyhoo, Ebisu was just as pretty and Christmas-y as last weekend:

We went into the museum and paid to see the special exhibit being featured this week. Then, while we waited for some group that Geri's friend Alex was going to meet up with, we walked around the free exhibit in the basement. It was basically just amateur photography. Not particularly skilled work, though I did enjoy a series of photographs of sheep in wigs, haha. There were also some pretty bitchin' photographs of children dressed in bunny costumes reenacting war scenes, lol. The gore was made out of pumpkin guts, haha. I gave the photographer points for creativity, haha. At one point, we found a series of photographs of a guy in a mohawk taking pictures of himself in various parts of the world. There were post-it notes all around the wall surrounding the pictures, and you could write a message yourself and stick it there. Geri wanted to write something but couldn't think of what to say. Then Alex said, "just so you know, the artist is standing right behind you so... keep it PG, okay?" I turned around and, sure enough, Mohawk Man was standing there scrutinizing his own work, haha. Geri, unsure of what to do, just drew a smiling squid and stuck it on the wall, lol.

Well, we had time to kill before going into the other exhibit, so we went to this super-expensive cake shop. The prices are in the vault, but I had an Irish cream cheese-cake, as seen below. Mmmmmm.... the Bailey's lover in me was sooooo happy.

This was some tea I got with my cake. It was a caramel, cinnamon concoction of some sort, lol. Delicious!

Anyways, we eventually went back to the exhibit. The special exhibit on display was Sebastiao Salgado's photography of Africa. This was a particularly special exhibit because it was this famous photographer's last. Anyways, he took 30 years worth of pictures in Africa, mostly in places where no Westerner had ever set foot. No cameras were allowed, but I took this example picture off the cover of the pamphlet - especially since it was one of my favorite photos. Sorry about the glare - it kinda ruins the dusty, ghostly effect of the picture. Still a great shot, though.

There were other great pictures. Some were just pictures of dusty dunes or treacherous playa lakes or zebras drinking from watering holes. There were also pictures of tribal people farming or smiling at the camera. However, most of the photos were meant to show the devastation in Africa over the past thirty years. There were horribly depressing pictures of refugees fleeing their villages or huddling in food lines. There were even pictures of men imprisoned for heinous war crimes and pictures of piles of corpses in storehouses. Many of the pictures were both gruesome and moving. Some were beautiful (a shot of a young woman smiling in a hut with her three young boys around her), some were eerie (a shot of farmers, bare-chested, working in a field while an African man in a trench-coat holding an umbrella observes from the field), and some I would rather forget (any image of starving children). Such photos made me feel bitter as I thought back on the early days of my life when I had wanted so badly to have a career that involved helping others. When I was younger, the humanitarian in me always wanted to work in a field that would help the sad, broken people of the world. But as the years went by and more events occurred in my life, I became more and more disillusioned with the world and lost the urge to even bother with people. Seeing these photos of starving, battered people, I felt anger at all the things that had made me steer away from helping other people.

I left the museum with a dark sense of unease. I felt embittered and irritated. I hated a lot of people for all sorts of reasons. I felt so restlessly angry, in fact, that I couldn't even listen to music on the way home.

But then... as I was stomping home along the main street of Heiwadai, this young man veered suddenly and almost bumped into me. I quickly moved out of the way and continued walking. When he veered again, I realized he was trying to say something to me. I looked up in surprise to see this young Japanese man wearing a gray scarf and smiling imploringly at me.

"Nihongo wo shaberemasu ka?" ("Can you speak Japanese?") he asked. I was so taken-aback that I just blurted out "Hai" ("yes") and then "Sukoshi dake" ("just a little"). He commented that I sounded good and that it must be because I'd been in Japan awhile. As we walked along together, he asked how long I'd be staying in Japan. I was confused as to why this stranger was talking to me, but he sounded so genuinely interested that I played along. I told him I'd be in Japan for a year. He was surprised and ask if I was a college student. I told him I was studying at Sophia and living with a host family. He sounded impressed and started pressing me about my major and where I'd come from, etc., and we walked and talked together for several minutes. Eventually, we stopped at a cross-walk and he told me he lived down the street. He smiled and waved and walked away. I realized, as he was leaving, that he'd likely seen me many times walking along the main road of Heiwadai and had been dying to talk to me. In fact, he was probably hoping to run into me again.

It seemed like such a strange contrast from the death and suffering of the Africans to a bright, cheerful young man coming up to me out of nowhere to talk. To think that a man in a country known for its cold public face would simply walk up to a young foreign girl and start talking... it was so strange. Japanese men never approach strangers, and this man was so incredibly cheerful and friendly. He truly just wanted to talk to me. My escalating anger deflated suddenly as he walked away. I felt strangely humbled.

Well, it's Friday, so I'm off to bed for real for once. Good night, world!


  1. I love when art and photography has that effect. Then you know it is really good, even if it is disturbing.

    LOL at random stalkers ;D

  2. Yeah, I give the artist a lot of credit for making me feel that way by the end of the exhibit. The whole thing left me with a dark, bitter feeling - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's only in seeing the darkness that we become aware of the light ^_^

    And yeah... I've been getting a lot of stalker-activity lately. Guys keep coming up to me and trying to talk to me and it's hella creepy. This one old guy came up to me and was like "dare ka matteimasu ka?" and I was like "holy shit, what do you think I am, a hooker?!!" Lol XD I wanted to turn to him and be like "no, actually, I'm Batman" lol XD

  3. lololol... You shoulda been like "anatasama no tame ni machiteorimasu"