Japan! Ueno museums

Today we went to Ueno Park, home of the Ueno Zoo and at least 5 museums (probably more). Our first stop was the National Museum of Western Art, which I’ve been wanting to get to since we got to Tokyo. It houses the Matsukata collection, the personal collection of Kojiro Matsukata, a Japanese man who collected approximately 10,000 pieces of art after WW1. It’s a complicated story how the country of Japan ended up with what was left of his collection at his death, but it’s an awesome collection. Zoe was speechless when we turned the corner into the Money gallery and saw this.



In a turn of events that is highly amusing to me, Zoe is firmly a fan of Impressionism and realistic painters like Vermeer, while Tiny has no patience for them whatsoever and is strongly drawn to abstract and cubist painters. She was ready to mutiny at the museum until we walked into a room with a large Picasso and a Pollack- then she was perfectly happy.

The courtyard outside the building had a number of sculptures by Rodin. I call this photo “High School Boys in Front of the Gates of Hell”.


After the art museum, we had lunch at a little panda themed cafe. This was my steamed bun:



Then we went to the National Museum of Nature and Science. We went because I’d’ heard there were dinosaur bones (Zoe LOVES dinosaurs), but I’d also heard that the rest of the museum wasn’t terribly great for kids, so I figured we’d go in, see the dinos, and then go to the zoo.

The reports were so very wrong. It was insanely cool, and we all loved it. We ended up staying for 3 hours, and we definitely could go back. I was wishing the whole time that my mom was here, because she would have loved it so much.

This reminded me of one of the Lamp Post station on Lost.


There was a whole exhibit about snakes, since it’s the year of the snake. This is a snake that ate another snake.


The girls thought this one looked like a dragon.


There was a whole floor about under sea life. Hello giant squid!


There was a whole wall of pressed seaweed. (Reading through this, I realize that I say “whole” a lot. There is no way to express how massive these displays were. Huge rooms, huge walls full of things. Pictures just make it look small.)


Cool mushrooms:



There was a whole wall of different kinds of butterflies, beetles, bugs…


This room was SO cool.  I love how you can compare the sizes.





This doesn’t even look real.



This is a cow’s stomach and intestines. We’re about to start our school segment on the body, so this was an awesome visual.


A whale skull. It was mounted on a … thing… so that it moved and demonstrated just how wide the whale’s mouth opens.


Then we walked into the dinosaur room. Zoe didn’t know what was coming.





The prehistoric animal room:




A giant prehistoric sea turtle.



The girls got to touch a 9 million year old fossil. (I think 9 million? There was some confusion with the translation. But this volunteer was delighted to talk to the girls.)


One of the floors is dedicated to hands on physics experiments and examples of the progress of science. The girls LOVED it, and the volunteers loved them.




This fellow’s son lives in Palo Alto. Small world. 🙂





Another floor has an exploration area, lots of places to look, lots of buttons to push.


This room completely took my breath away. It’s a collection of 115 animals from all over the world, and it was completely awe inspiring.




I totally want to run away from home and live here. Barring that, when we come back to Tokyo, we’ll be visiting it a lot.


On the way out of the park, we ran across this guy, who was playing AWESOME music. His flier referred to him as a “music busker” which delights me.



We’re going back to Ueno tomorrow to go to the zoo, since we didn’t get there today. Hopefully we will also get to the Royal Museum, since they have a King Tut exhibit right now that’s supposed to be amazing.

Can you tell I love museums?

2 thoughts on “Japan! Ueno museums

  1. Yes, we can tell you LOVE museums. I’m sure it rubs off on the girls, too. It is great that you expose them to such wonders of the world.

    As for the man with a son who lives in Palo Alto… yes, indeed it is a small world, nowadays.

    It will be sad to see you come home. This photo journey has been a real treat.

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