Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kyushu National Museum

The last time I was in Fukuoka, I visited the new Kyushu National Museum (click on the title of this post to get more info). The Aussie gave it big thumbs up, and he never thinks ANYthing is cool, so I figured I'd go see for myself. I had been to Dazaifu before, but hadn't seen this supposedly massive building (and the town's not that big!). Well, I finally found the escalator that went up the mountain to get to it - wow! I felt like I was queing up for a ride at Disney. The museum is such an odd, enormous shape, that it first seemed like a mirage in the sky (?). But I really like how it was tucked into the landscape and reflected the trees all around - it was as if it very politely said (just like the Japanese people) - "Sumimasen, ah - excuse me - can I just sort of settle myself down in here? Do you mind?" instead of being like the kind of building that has the audacity to wipe everything out first, then looking like a pile of discarded boxes stacked up here and there in a parking lot.
And all that was just the outside! It proved to be cavernous, yet alive on the inside; I walked in as a concert in the main floor was just starting. I headed up to the historical exhibits upstairs, the music accompanying me as a went. I got a free English headset to understand some of the highlighted exhibits, and, though I'm not a huge fan of history, I must admit, I thought it was really neat. Afterwards, I went into a fantastic hands-on exhibit downstairs. I'm forever in trouble at the museums because I want to touch everything - and in this room, you could! More photos of it later, but here's a funny one with some borrowed locals :)
I also thought you'd like to see what a little bit of the town looks like - here's a photo of the view outside the eki (station) immediately after you come out of the turnstiles from the train. I asked several Japanese people what that white statue thing is there, but none gave me anything more than something to decorate the "welcome to our town" area. Notice the cars and how low the clouds are, and if you click on the photo to enlarge it, see if you can find "konbini" called "Lawson's" (you wouldn't believe how many times I've gotten directions to someplace that somehow involved a Lawson's - "yeah, you can't miss the place - it's right next to the Lawson's...")
Can you guess where I was standing to take this picture? Don't forget to click on the "eki" photo to enlarge it...)

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