Tokyo National Museum, Oeno Zoo and camera shopping :)
17.06.2007 - 17.06.2007 27 °C
We were on a mission today: to find a replacement for the lost/stolen camera, and see a little more of Tokyo while we were at it.
The search for the camera began (and indeed ended) in Yodobashi Cameras in Shinjuku, but from there we decided we should see if we could get a better deal in Tokyo's reknowned Akihabara Electric Town which as a short hop, skip and train away! Akihabara is an area which has become famous for its many many electronics shops - ranging from teeny tiny stall-like ventures to big, shiny, neon-lit affairs. In recent years, other areas of Tokyo have also become (smaller) electronic hubs, and internet sales have also added to the competition but Akihabara is still going strong. It has made-up for the short-fall by spreading into the manga market too - now side-by-side with the electronics stores you can find throngs of shops dedicated to comics of all kinds (from the very innocent to the very, erm, not-so-innocent). The sheer volume of comics they house, and the fact that they seemed even busier than the electronics shops, are testament to Japan's love affair with manga.
After checking a few shops we realised the best deal yet was at Yodobashi Camera so we decided we'd pick up the camera on our way home, and in the mean time we headed for Oeno, just one stop away.
Our overall view of Oeno was a pretty pleasant one: it has a bit of a cultural vibe - due to the many museums there - as well as a sort of "pleasant sunday stroll" feel - due to a nice park, a zoo and generally leafiness. We first headed to the Tokyo National Museum which houses the world's largest collection of Japanese Art. The grounds and various buildings of the museum were altogether lovely - though this was probably enhanced by the clear sky and bright sunlight which was causing mini-rainbows by a fountain. There was a temporary Leonardo exhibit and many many Japanese were dutifully queuing for an hour in the blazing sun to get a glimpse of some masterpieces. Being blazed Europeans we skipped the Leonardo extravaganze ("been there, done that.. in Italy no less!" Aren't we brats?) and headed to the permanent collection.
All in all I think it was a perfect museum: floor 2 was titled "Highlights of Japan" and it offered just that - a collection representing the history of Japanese art with just enough pieces for each era to give us a real feel for it without getting to the yawn stage. We saw very early pottery art, Buddhist art, kimonos, armour and swords, woodblock prints, fans, masks and screens - just about everything you imagine when you think of Japanese Art!
After this cultural and educational visit, we decided to go somewhere that appealed more to the children within us: the zoo!!! First stop in Oeno Zoo: the giant panda. He (or she?) is a much loved and very famous inhabitant of the zoo, and we saw him munching away at bamboo inside and away from the sun (clever animal! Do pandas ever get skin cancer? no! now you know why!)
We then wandered around looking at lions, tigers, elephants, birds, monkeys, gorillas, bats, polar bears, sea-lions, penguins, prairie dogs, otters and something called a "lesser mouse deer" - google it, they're very cute! Some of the enclosures seemed a little small but most of them were decent-sized. That said, we reckon one the tigers was clearly going insane from cabin fever, as were the two polar bears, which was very sad to see. But we were cheered up by watching the monkeys and prairie dogs (who seemed very happy and active!) and also two rather cute squirrels!
On our way home we swung by Shinjuku to buy the camera so we are now proud owners of a beautiful and technically exquisite Sony T100! Which means hopefully you'll be getting some fantastic photos of our excursion to Kamakura tomorrow!