Mini Japan Trip 2009

December 26, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Posted in General, Japan, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel | 1 Comment
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I relocated to the UK a few years ago, coming via Japan. At the time I did a bunch of touristy things.

This trip is only brief (with only 1 non airport related day) and so I spent most of the time hanging out with a few friends. Part of which was a return to Kamakura and the not so nearby – unless you have a car – Restaurant Marlowe. Which offers a range of interesting custard and non-custard cakes. The green tea one had a strong after taste of tea and the other flavours around the table were equally nice. The restaurant has a clear view over the Pacific and on a warm day you’d be able to sit outside and enjoy the moment.

All this eating and commuting didn’t stop me adding a few new additions to the list.

Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation – This is one seriously cool museum. At least for the geeky amongst us. If you’re interested in health, food, robotics, the environment, space or new materials they’ve got you covered and there are probably other things I’m missing. These permanent exhibits cost 600Y and there is an additional fee for any other exhibitions.

There are lots of hands on activities but this could pose a problem during peak hours as I could imagine people getting frustrated at not getting the chance to play.

The information panels are almost all bilingual (Japanese and English) so learning could never be easier. Having said that I did not get the most out of this visit because I’d come straight after dropping my bags after a long sleepless night. So fatigue was definitely affecting my care factor. Nonetheless I could definitely see the value of this museum and all of the cool future tech.

Take the Yurikamome line (790Y one-way) from Shimbashi station and cross over the Rainbow Bridge (which also affords a nice view of the city).  About 15 minutes later you’ll get to the Telecom Center station and a 5 minute walk will have you at the museum. Unfortunately there’s not much else around (other than the Maritime Science museum that I didn’t go to), so if you’re pressed for time you may have to miss this one.

Mori Art Museum – is located in the new gleaming mixed use complex Roppongi Hills. Entry is 1500Y (varies on the exhibit) which is a bit pricey for an art gallery that is until you realise that you now have access to an almost 360 degree view of the city. It’s a magnificent vista with the chance to look out over the bay, the diminutive Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji to name but a few highlights. Of course this will be influenced by the weather and the pollution levels.

For an additional 300Y you can go outside but unfortunately I was running a touch late so forgo this. I’m still quite happy with my view from the inside – except for the glare on a few pics.

The gallery itself has a rotating collection of special exhibits. Rather humourously when I visited they were looking at medicine and art, which included a large number of items on loan from London’s Science Museum and Wellcome Collection! So I’d had the chance to see many of these before. Did I get the most value for my money, probably not but you probably will. Make the most of it and grab a drink at the bar (no idea of the price – sorry!) and enjoy the view!

General Nogi’s Residence – One reason I was a bit pressed for time at the Mori building was because on my walk there I stumbled across the shrine for General Nogi (and his wife). They committed ritual suicide on the day of the Emperor’s funeral in 1912. The grounds are relatively small but well tended and it’s a nice break from the surrounding city.

All in all a quick and tiring (jet lag related) trip but it was good to come back, it felt almost natural and certainly great to see friends again!

Tokyo photos at Flickr.

Wellcome Collection

February 28, 2009 at 12:38 am | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Opposite Euston station is the Wellcome Collection it’s a free gallery and library focusing on medicine with the occasional special exhibit.

The main galleries are Medicine Now and Medicine Man with a third having temporary exhibits. Medicine Now predictably looks at some of the contemporary issues in medicine with displays on obesity, malaria and the human genome. This gallery is well presented with listening chairs – when you sit down you’ll hear a blurb about one of the themes, the sound doesn’t travel so it doesn’t bother other patrons. The entire are is well lit and bright with some interesting displays. One of the more fun activities is a biometric picture where you can enter some details like heart rate and height for a geometric picture of ‘you’. Quite cool.

In Medicine Man you’ll walk through a wood panelled gallery featuring artifacts Henry Wellcome collected during the 19th century. There are a variety of items such as drawings, prints, paintings, replacement limbs and many random and interesting bits and pieces such as Japanese sex aids and Napoleon’s toothbrush. In the wood panels are tastefully hidden information boards that provide more information on each item, its use and how it came into the collection.

The Wellcome Collection is an excellent museum, its often open late and is free. I would advise checking its upcoming events for temporary exhibits that interest you and planning your visit accordingly.

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