Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Takashi Murakami

Last Saturday, before going to a friend's farewell dinner at Roti Roppongi, I decided to while away my time at Roppongi Hills. Around the area, I found several advertisements of exhibits currently being held at Mori Art Museum. What caught me was Takashi Murakami's 500 Arhats exhibit. Since time was limited, I took note of it that the exhibit will run until 6th March -- I still have time.

But the next day, looking at a cloudless blue sky outside prompted me go out and just travel to the city. I decided to go to the exhibit. 

Mori Art Museum is located at the 54th floor of Roppongi Hills. In this floor, there are three exhibit rooms, a view deck overlooking Tokyo, and restaurants.

This is not my first time at Mori Art Museum. My first was with a friend and an older officemate in 2004, who took us to see Akira Kurosawa's exhibit (yes, THE Akira Kurosawa. World class director). The second time was with T in 2009. It was an exhibit about future of medicine.

Murakami's works are contemporary but classical in the sense it will survive over time because of its uniqueness. In one of his interviews, he refused his works to be categorized as contemporary because contemporary does not last. 

I am not familiar of him but his works are familiar to me but I just don't know to whom the credit should be given.
He did collaborate with Louis Vuitton (remember those colored monograms. It was his).


This hall displays the 500 Arhats. In Buddhism, Arhats are the worthy ones. One who has attained nirvana.

As a gesture of gratitude to the Qatari government on the aid received by Japan during the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in 2011, along with his other works, the 500 Arhats exhibit was first shown Doha, Qatar.

These three huge Arhats are Panthaka, Angaja and Subinda. They are three of the sixteen top Arhats. Each Arhat (all 500 in these exhibit) have their personality, some not even very appealing but still an Arhat.

The artworks were not made by Murakami alone. It was done with the help of around fifty art students in Tokyo. Sketches of the original work are even displayed. The method used is silkscreen printing.

Surprisingly not crowded for a Sunday. Well, it could be that the exhibit began in October last year. 

He has this penchant for skulls which symbolizes death.

If Andy Warhol's iconic works are the Campbell Soup and Marilyn Monroe pop art, Takashi Murakami made icons, too. His first character was Mr. DOB (right photo). Original Mr. DOB was in blue with Mickey Mouse ears, huge eyes and creepy smile.


This wall shows a Red and a Blue Oni (Ogres) in Japanese folklore. 

At the museum's souvenir shop, these couches covered with Murakami's Ohana (Flower) iconic artwork are being sold. Who knew such simple drawing could be iconic that even a three year old with the help of stencil rulers could have done it. I love the icon, actually. It's a happy icon.

(Left) Skulls embossed on canvas. (Right) Roppongi Hills at night.
It was freezing cold but art can't wait.

This is one of the best exhibits I've seen so far in Japan. I can't wait to see more. Part of my travel goal this year is to visit every museum as far as time permits. Be it cultural or art, I am aiming to visit many more in the coming days.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Tokyo National Museum #TokyoDiaries

In December 2015, an officemate told me about the special exhibit of the Terracotta Army of Qin dynasty at Tokyo National Museum. The moment he said it, I already had in mind of where I want to go by the very first weekend back in Japan. I have been wanting to see those myself though the possibility of which never crossed me until an opportunity came. 

So, earlier today, I made my way to Ueno. 
TNM (Tokyo National Museum) is the largest and oldest museum in Japan. It holds several national treasures and hosts special exhibits of works and treasures all over the world.
The museum compound is facing Ueno park.
Though I was a frequent visitor of Ueno park in my earlier years in Japan, it never occurred to me that the largest museum of the nation is just a few walks from the station. It could be that my interest were all in Ameyoko. Ameyoko was my favorite street for cheap finds before. It is a historical place itself being famous as a black market after WW-2. I haven't had the opportunity to visit while there because of time constraints. I might go there again. someday.
The Terracotta Army of Qin Dynasty exhibit was located in Heisekan (one of the four museums inside the compound). The Heisekan holds Japanese Archaeology and Special Exhibits (inset photo is the lobby).
Just right of the main entrance is a canteen. Selection of food is very limited to cakes, sandwiches, and quick lunches. Vending machines are also available.
And so I thought the museum prohibits photo-ops. There's an allocated area just for this but the Terracotta Army background are all replicas. Better than nothing.
They are perfect replicas. The total number of original Terracotta Army on display is around six. Other things on display are artifacts, accessories and a few tidbits. The exhibit started with narratives, small things until it brings you to the grand army,
It has been said that Emperor Qin wanted to rule for eternity that's why these clay life-size army were molded and surrounded his tomb with the belief that these will guard Emperor Qin in his afterlife. The magnitude of effort only shows how Emperor Qin was revered by the people.
Right after I was done doing rounds at Heiseikan, I went to Honkan to check on the Japanese Gallery. Honkan is another building in the compound (the first photo of this post shows the facade).
There were a lot of displays. Inset are from the Exhibit: Buddhism in Japan. 
Buddha in Kamakura period
Reclining Buddha.
Bed clothes

Kimono.
Some displays are allowed to be photographed.
It was a relief knowing that the museums have plenty of toilets. Unlike in Louvre where toilets are scarce. 
And what I got as a souvenir is a tacky-looking chessboard set with pieces inspired by the Terracota Army.
Up close they look awesome but the craftsmanship of the board looks all handmade -- in the 80s kind of way. Most likely, I will never get to play with it because of time and lack of opponent. Though T presented himself as potential, I doubt time (again) will allow us.
I'll go back there someday. The Toyokan (Asian Gallery) is next in my list.
http://www.tnm.jp/?lang=en


Thursday, January 07, 2016

House Project files (final part)

Finally, the last part of my house project files. I would like to compare the before and after photos to let everyone see how major the changes were. It took around 7 months for this project to finish.

BEFORE:
This is how it looks likes after turnover. I don't get why old low-cost rowhouses always opt for yellow and orange combination. I confess the look was not at all appealing and the only reason why I signed up for this was for the sake of investment. Something as source of additional income after minor renovations.
AFTER:
I requested for an all white facade. The brick tile accents are an ode to brownstone homes which I love looking. The trellis was our contractor's idea. I objected at first considering it doesn't serve any particular useful purpose but resigned as it looks good anyway.
BEFORE:
Being at end unit has its many advantages: more space and windows.
AFTER:
And so we did add a lot of windows. The whole terrace is akyat-bahay friendly, as I would put it so T and I are planning to have grills installed from the windows' interior. As you can see, the floor area is larger than the lot area leaving almost nothing for soil.
BEFORE:
The interior, all bare and dark. The window looks outdated.
AFTER:
With an all white interior, it made the room look bigger. Cove lightings were added as suggested by our contractor. We let him take charge in this aspect. I had reservations fearing the ceiling would look lower with all the drama but it turned out really nice.
The red bistro chairs were the first ever seats purchased for the house. Our dining set, which as of this writing, are yet to be finished. We had it custom-made from an indie maker (I'll blog the details later). As you can see, we don't have any furniture yet. We actually lived in this state for the holidays.
BEFORE:
The stairs were ugly. Period.
AFTER:
It went through major renovation and turned out awesome. Again, we left it to the professionals to decide what is best and modern. I would have been happy by just tiles but I'm way happier of the outcome. Looking into the details which can be seen up close, it is not really that perfect.
BEFORE:
There's no way we will have no ceiling for insulation, at least. The house is located in the island of Mactan. With the sea nearby, the heat is unbearable at long periods.
AFTER:
The master's bedroom and Amber's bedroom (inset photo) have high ceiling as per my last minute request. The rooms, as predicted, were small so the need to have higher ceiling to make it appear bigger.
BEFORE:
The kitchen is nowhere functional. The original house after turnover did not include enough space for a kitchen so we built an extension to accommodate for one. Inset photo was taken during the process of renovation as no before photo is available in my files. This area before the major renovation has grey floor tiles though from this photo, it looks bare land.
AFTER:
In keeping with all white interior, the floors were painted white using paints suitable for cars. The wooden cabinets are kept in brown-ish color to contradict the whiteness.
With the exception of Toilet & Bath doors, all are made of wood and painted white.
BEFORE:
GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS: 2-storey house, no partition walls upstairs, no kitchen area, 1 T&B.
AFTER:
GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS: 2-storey house, 3 bedrooms, 2 T&B, 1 laundry room upstairs, balcony at the 2nd floor, garage and kitchen area.

Considering the changes, the cost of renovation was higher than our expectation.
At the end, we're satisfied. The windows need rework, especially at Amber's room, because of poor installation work. 
Though not located at a high-end subdivision, the community is gated. A guard goes around riding a bike checking the neighbourhood. Tanods (community police officers) do make rounds at night time so it's nice knowing safety is of priority by the homeowners' association. Two concerns I have: First, I'm still trying to get used to the location as it is quite far from Cebu metropolis but I'll probably get used to it in the long run. Second, due to limited space, some of our neighbours park their cars outside even though there's a parking place for rent inside the community itself. Automobiles have difficulty getting through the streets because of cars parked outside the homes.

This ends the house project files. It's been fun and a relief that it has been done. Now, I can focus on interiors. I never thought shopping for interiors is fun.

Our contractor: FRESIZEON In.De.Works