Thursday, February 1, 2007

9. Museum Review: Mitsuo Aida Museum (Marunouchi)

Mitsuo Aida was a famous calligrapher and poet who passed away in 1991. He once wrote, "I merely express the natural way people should be as humans and the true way to live. To accomplish that, I borrow the format of brush-and-ink calligraphy."

I had never heard of Mr. Aida, but entrance to the museum was free with my Grutt Pass, so I decided to check it out. Although I admire the beauty of calligraphy, I don't have any special interest in it. That wasn't important, as I found this museum inspiring.

First, the atmosphere. Again, in running with a Japanese theme, earth tones prevailed. In fact, in the main hall, the walls and floor seemed to be made of earth itself. The only sounds to be heard was running water (and in some areas, the air-conditioning).

Many of Mr. Aida's works are on display, and each one is completely translated into English. Because I am able to read hiragana and some kanji, I could read and understand some of his poems without the English, as they were simple and to the point. For example, "sono mamade iiga na", or "It's fine, just as it is."

Most were much more difficult, but reading what I could in Japanese, then reading in English, was an interesting challenge. If nothing else, I just enjoyed the serenity of the exhibit and the opportunity to contemplate many of the basic concepts of life.

Another of Mr. Aida's poems (translated) read, "The flowers are supported by the branches, the trunk supports the branches, the roots support the trunk, but we can't see the roots."

It would be just as easy to read his poems in a book, but I think the museum encourages one to really pay attention to what Mitsuo Aida was trying to say. It is a small museum, but I think it is worth a visit! But, I would not recommend bringing children. The silence is an important part of the experience.

The Mitsuo Aida Museum is located inside the Tokyo International Forum building, B1, 3-5-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0005. Just enter the building and take the escalators down, the name of the museum is in English.

The phone number is: 03-6212-3200.

Hours of operation: 10:00-17:30 (last entry at 17:00). Closed on Mondays, except when Monday is a national holiday.

Admission: Adults 800 yen
Jr. & Sr. High students, seniors 70 and older: 500 yen
Elementary Students 200 yen
Children kindergarten age and under are free.
*Group discounts are available.

For more information, check their website:

The International Forum is less than 5 minutes walk from Tokyo and Yurkucho stations, as well as the Hibiya/Nijubashimae/Ginza Subway stations.

Some of my favorite poems, by name: 'Jibun', 'Shiawasewa itsumo', 'anatano kokoroga', 'toki', 'michi', 'sono hito', 'makeni mawaru',...

**Free entry with Grutt Pass 2007 (#18)

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