Tuesday, October 7, 2014

History and Manga (Chris)

It has been a while since I have written my last blog post, and much has happened since then. Denden Town was a lot of fun. It is a pop culture shopping district area is the best way to describe it. There is also a multi-story arcade in the Denden Town area. The highlight of that arcade was the Gundam simulator. For those who do not know, a Gundam is a giant pilotable mecha, so the Gundam simulator was just a video game with a really complicated controller. Hanging out in Denden Town was a good area to explore, but a lot of the merchandise in that area was really expensive.

Outside the Denden Town arcade
Inside the Gundam simulator
This past Sunday, I went on a field trip to Kyoto and went to the Manga Museum. The Manga Museum has a huge collection of manga, but it does not explain much about manga. There was one small exhibit that talked about manga, but it only gave it in a current sense. A better description would be that the exhibit described the current state that manga is in. There were segments on art style, income of artists, and manga on the global scale. The talk about manga in the past is not even touched at all. Even though all the manga in the room are arranged by release date, there is no talk about the history of manga. It was a bit disappointing to see that the history of manga is not considered important at the Manga Museum. The only reason that I can think of for this is that manga is tailored to a younger generation that is not interested in fancy academics, but instead is interested in reading manga. The Manga Museum is worth a visit, but do not expect to learn much about manga. 

Outside the Manga Museum
Inside the Manga Museum

Similar to the Manga Museum, the history is not a thing that is often seen in Japan, unless you go to a place that is historical. To refer back to a place that I talked about in an earlier blog post, Kiyomizu Temple is a place that has huge amounts of history. The way you get there is by traversing through the very modern, big city area of Gion-shoji for a while. You know when you are near Kiyomizuj Temple when the architecture completely changes to a more traditional style, and stays that way all the way up to Kiyomizu Temple. When I was there, it was late in the day, so there was not much activity happening, but the only historical thing was observable was the architectural style in that area.  This was also the most expansive thing that I have seen in Japan that could be considered historical. The only places that I have been to, so far, that show off that traditional flair are at temples and shrines. Religion has had a major role in Japan’s history, and the fact that these religious sites are maintaining the traditional look that they have had for hundreds of years shows that the stoicism that is maintained in retaining a “true” historic look is quite astounding considering the large amounts of modernity that Japan has gone through.  There are some modern advances that are used at these religious sites, mainly at office buildings and shops for the convenience of the workers that use that space for business instead of religious duties. Also, how much has religion evolved when there is, somewhere, a shrine that is devoted to Thomas Edison, and treats Edison as an electricity “god”. With this particular shrine as an exception, modernity and tradition are mostly segregated, but fit into the weird puzzle that allows them to be next to each other without being seemingly out of place.  

As this week closes, my friends and I are planning to visit Nara, and visit some of the major sites. I also have decided to join the Archery Club at Kansai Gaidai. The club materials are not exactly the correct size (in my case) for students. But, it is a lot of fun.

1 comment:

Crystaline Hoover said...

It's a shame to hear that the manga museum had so little history. I suppose it's more of a tourist attraction than it is useful for academic research. (I guess -- I haven't actually been there).

I do think it's interesting that the area around Kiyomizu Temple is so modern. I'd imagine that because the temple is such a big attraction, everyone wants to get a part of the action (read: profit off of tourists). Still, I'm not sure I entirely agree that there's no traces of the past there. While the buildings are certainly ultra modern, I think that they (or at least some of them) do try to reference Japan's past, even if it's just, like Janae said in her last post, using calligraphy to inspire a feeling. I'd argue that it's more advertising shorthand than real homage to the past, but it's interesting nonetheless.