National Museum of EthnologySunday, 2 October 2005
I spent a week in Japan in September 2005, speaking about sustainable tourism at the Nagoya World Fair, visiting Minkaku and its associated National Museum of Ethnology near Osaka and dropping in to Tokyo.
The National Museum of Ethnology in Sizenbunkaen Park outside Osaka (towards Kyoto) has a knockout and amazingly eclectic collection. It’s all brilliantly displayed, often in ways you could only get away with in a country like Japan (ie in the West stuff would be stolen or vandalised immediately).
It covers much of the world but with popular art given as much of an outing as high art. So the Japan exhibits also cover manga, India features Bollywood film posters, Mexico has a great display on Day of the Dead and the Australian aboriginal art exhibit includes a modern painting which features John Howard (Australia’s Prime Minister) and Pauline Hanson (right wing politician) in a huddle with a member of the KKK. Other highlights:
• Transport ranging from Polynesian outrigger canoes, to assorted rickshaws and auto-rickshaws and a Manila jeepney.
• An extremely evocative Indian railway section including tickets, timetables, passengers’ baggage, a platform tea trolley, a pan (betel nut) stand, etc.
• Wonderful northern Canada and Eskimo exhibits and art including huge totem poles from British Columbia.
• A knockout African section including a selection of Ghanaian coffins, one of them as a bottle of beer. A West African hair dressing saloon with a wonderful collection of featured haircut illustrations.
The museum’s website is www.mipaku.ac.jp