The most senior of all art universities in Japan, the Tokyo University of Arts might not be on top of anyone’s list of places to visit, but there is still a lot things to see. I visited on one of their days when they welcome the public and I am not sure how accessible the campus is on other days. One of the first things you see on the inner courtyard is Auguste Rodin’s The Vanquished (Le Vaincu, from a 1876 sculpt but I do not know when this particular bronze was cast). Not a bad way to start your day if you are an art student! There is quite a lot of sculpture on display in the inner garden of the university, and while none of the buildings are very impressive sometimes the views are.
The university itself was founded in 1949 of two smaller schools that were both founded in 1887. I definitively need to visit again.
Going on a long walk in Tochigi Prefecture’s Nasu district I walked past a farm that advertised the feeding of donkeys, naturally I had to investigate. The feeding process was cleverly set up so that even clumsy children could safely pour good things down on the happy beasts. The donkeys shared space with a couple of hungry horses as well. I have a soft spot for animals and donkey are very rare in Japan.
Walking around in cultural and historical Kamakura, one of Japan’s once capitals, I spotted an interesting building that looked to fit in a little better than most of the new builds you see recently. The architect must have anticipated the interest as he had fitted an explanation sheet on the side of the building for interested viewers. This little act alone makes me believe there is quite a lot of love invested in this building, which one vital ingredient in sustainable architecture. Kamakura isn’t exactly starved of interesting buildings, a stone’s throw away from this little house near Hase Station I found a couple of handsome old fashioned black wooden buildings. I love how Japanese cities (at least the best ones) are so eminently walkable! To be a walkable city, it is not enough to focus on good sidewalks and street crossings, it is also important to make the buildings so interesting that you actually want to walk there, just to explore!
Some of the more famous temples in Japan charge a small admission fee, and the temple “housing” the great Buddha of Ushiku in Ibaraki prefecture does as well, 300 yen I think it was. Although you can easily see the Ushiku Daibutsu for miles and miles around and on good days even from tall Tokyo towers it is interesting to get closer to it. I took these photos of the buddha and the entrance with the as usual interesting ema votive plates, most of them with prayers from students at the nearby Tsukuba University. More photos to come!