Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sforza monument - reconstruction in Nagoya

Leonardo da vinci, the grand master of the Italian Renaissance, was commanded by Load Ludovico of Milan to create the world's largest statue, a work which was to depict General Francesco Sforza mounted on horseback. By November of 1493, Leonardo had completed a clay model of the horse alone which measured 7.2 meters in height. Unfortunately, war interrupted his work at that point: the planned bronze casting was discontinued, and the clay model was destroyed.
The reconstruction of the "phantom statue" began with the construction of a two meter clay model based upon the study by Prof. Tanaka of Madrid manuscripts discovered in 1967 as well as a number of preparatory sketches. This model was enlarged using computer technology, and the final version of the statue molded in plastic (FRP), as the legs would not be able to support the weight of a bronze casting. It is the only of its kind in the world, brought into existence at last by Japanese research and technology.

Dimensions: Height 8.3m; Width 3.6m; Length 8.8m
Supervising/planning: Hidemichi Tanaka (Tohoku University)
Model creation: Hideo Asou, Masato Kageyama, Akio Ishizuka (Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music)
Donation: Tokai Bank Ltd.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Tonight I went to the Blue Note for a concert of Dee Dee Bridgewater. The group is composed also by Marc Berthoumieux (accordion), Louis Winsberg (guitar), Ira Coleman (bass), and Minino Garay(percussion).

She presented her new album, "J'ai Deux Amours", referring to her loves for her two countries, US and France. J’ai Deux Amours included mostly French songs, all familiar to Americans, performed in both languages with Bridgewater’s own charismatic signature.

Despite of her 55 years, she has an incredible energy, and she is able to transmit it all! WOW!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Edo period (1615-1868)

Edo is the ancient name for Tokyo. During the reign of the Tokugawa Shoguns, Japan's emperor reigned in secluded majesty at the imperial capital in Kyoto; however, the true center of power, government, the economy and social life was Edo, where the Shogun lived and ruled the country. For most people in Japan, Edo is more than just a historical city. It also has a symbolic image and meaning. It represents nearly everything that they consider a part of their "traditional" culture. For the Japanese, Edo has a romantic image that one could compare to the Italian's image of Renaissance Venice, the British image of Victorian London and the American image of the Wild West, all rolled into one.
Although modern Tokyo may look very "Western" on the surface, in its heart the spirit of Edo still lives on. And this picture reminded me a Tokyo I never saw, but I still feel from time to time

Ochanomizu (御茶ノ水)

A nice view of the railroads near Ochanomizu station (御茶ノ水駅), taken from Hijiri-bashi bridge (聖橋).


Kanda Myojin Shrine

Starting from 3pm, all the "mikoshi" went to the Kanda Myojin Shrine for their blessing

As usual in Japan, there were a lot of people, but as usual in Japan everything was smooth

The crowd in front of the temple.

The blessing.


The festival was disturbed by a strong rainstorm.

Kanda Myojin Omikoshi Togyo

Kanda Myojin Omikoshi Togyo at Kanda Myojin Shrine in Chiyoda Ward. The festival is one of the three grandest festivals in Tokyo.

It was nice to see these portable shrines going around in the streets of Akihabara, the Electric City in tokyo. Once again, a nice contrast between modern and traditional Japan.

There were very big events, like the one above...

...but there were also smaller ones, only for children.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Japolitana - ジャポリターナ

A successful (?) mix between Japanese taste and the Italian tradition for pizza (from Napoli). Do you dare? ^_^

Saturday, May 7, 2005

The tea ceremony (茶道)

The tea ceremony (茶道) is the ritualized preparation and serving of powdered green tea in the presence of guests. A full-length formal tea ceremony involves a meal (chakaiseki) and two servings of tea (koicha and usucha) and lasts approximately four hours, during which the host engages his whole being in the creation of an occasion designed to bring aesthetic, intellectual, and physical enjoyment; and peace of mind to the guests.

To achieve this, the tea host or hostess may spend decades mastering not only the measured procedures for serving tea in front of guests, but also learning to appreciate art, crafts, poetry, calligraphy; and learning to arrange flowers, cook and care for a garden; at the same time instilling in himself or herself grace, selflessness and attentiveness to the needs of others.


This is the proper way to pray, at least at the 赤城神社 (Akagi shrine).


Wednesday, May 4, 2005

On the highway

A picture of the hills surrounding Tokyo, taken from the Highway Bus to 山中湖.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

What's that?

Is it an airplane? Is it a UFO? Is it a bird? Is it a stain on my lens?

Hamarikyu Garden - 浜離宮庭園

Right on the back of Shiodome, only 10 minutes away from the JR 新橋駅, there is the Hamarikyu Garden (浜離宮庭園). it was constructed as a residence of a feudal lord in 17th century, and this area was a official duck hunting ground for the Tokugawa Shogun, under the name of 'Hamagoden'.
After the Meiji Restoration, the garden became a detached palace of the Emperor's family, and the present name was adopted. In 1945, the ownership of the garden was transferred to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and has been open to the public ever since as a metropolitan park.

中 島の御茶屋 (Nakajima-no-ochaya), or the Tea House of the Middle Island, in the top left corner, with the Shiodome on its back, reflected in the water of the Shiori-no-ike (潮入の池), the big tidal pond in the center of the garden. Actually, this tea house has been destroyed several times, and the present one was rebuilt only in 1982.

It is always nice to see the contrast between the old-fashioned buildings inside the garden, like the rest area in the picture above, with the surrounding skyscrapers.

Though the garden is surrounded by port, distribution and
energy facilities that have supported the development of Tokyo, the garden still maintains the atmosphere of the good, old Edo.

The "300 years old pine" (3百年の松), in the picture below, is considered to be the biggest pine tree in Tokyo. It is said also that the tree was planted by the 6th Shogun Ienobu himself in 17th century.

Shiodome City Center - 汐留シティセンター

While several places of Tokyo (and in Japan in general) are not particularly nice (see also link1 and link2), all the new constructions show a particular attention to appearance and design.

For example, these pictures are a side view of the Shiodome City Center (汐留シティセンター), near 新橋 (Shimbashi).
Quoting from the official web site:
"With 43 floors above ground and 4 underground, the Shiodome City Center certainly boasts a dignified appearance worthy of a business center for the new century.
Bold use of elegant curves and emerald green glass in its exterior contrasts with the monotonous buildings of the past in a vibrant expression of harmony between strength and refinement.

Come and have a look!

Monday, May 2, 2005

Ezekiel 25:17

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.
Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children.
And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.
And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.

Jules to Brett, while Marvin and Vincent observe and wait.

Sunday, May 1, 2005

D-Day, Omaha beach (1944. 06.06)

On June 6, 1944, an assault barge landed Robert Capa on Omaha Beach. Stumbling ashore under heavy fire, he exposed four rolls of the most famous films in history. As luck would have it, all but eleven frames were ruined in Life’s London darkroom when the emulsion ran in an over-heated drying cabinet. However, Life, and the world press, published the surviving images, calling them "slightly out of focus" from the blurred emulsion. And Capa maintained his dangerous franchise as the most colorful war photographer.
This is a picture of the giant reproduction of one of the surviving shots, printed on the wall nearby the entrance of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (東京都写真美術館), near Ebisu (恵比寿).