Weekend Excursions: Famous Shrines, Art Shows, and More Exploring

Moziah Thompson
September 12, 2015

Well well well, I have to say I am having a lot of fun with this entire study abroad experience and I'm beyond ready to get serious about my studies and newfound art mediums. That being said, I made sure to get a good bit of my wanderlust out the last two weekends before the reality of school and studying and tests/quizzes really catches up to me. I am also having a lot of fun blogging about everything I am experiencing and seeing and I know everyone back home in the states, and the few lucky ones who are also abroad like me, are enjoying reading about what I'm up to as well. So let's get right to it!

Famous Shrines

Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮)

My host mother suggested this shrine to me almost immediately after I told her I was interested in visiting multiple shrines and temples during my time here, noting it was one of the most popular shrines in the area. Considering it was only about a 25 or so minute train ride from where we live, I made the trip the ensuing Saturday. My first comment on the shrines at Atsuta is how huge they are and how much space the entirety of them takes up. As soon as I got off the train I was prepared to ask for directions but saw a sign and instead started to look around for it myself. It didn't take me more than 5 minutes to realize the humongous stone wall and trees above it that were next to me WAS the shrine. (To give an idea of how big it is, it took me about 5-7 minutes to walk and find the entrance although I was right beside it.) It was an extremely beautiful place though, and luckily for me not too crowded that day. I walked around snapping photos and admiring scenery for roughly 45 minutes before realizing there was an entire other part collection of shrines and buildings I had yet to see, and repeated that process twice more (yes, it was THAT big of a place). I got to see multiple temples and shrines and prayed at a few, after watching some locals to make sure I did it correctly, of course. I also attempted to read the panels they had lined up which I assume described the history of the shrines, though the kanji was way out of my league, I still very much enjoyed the traditional art that was paired with the story. Ended my trip to Atsuta with a nice hearty bowl of ramen and a mango flavored gelato type ice cream cone, おいしかった!

Shiogama Shrine (塩釜神社)

The following weekend, me and my friend Michelle visited a shrine that is within 10 minutes walking distance from my house. Although it's not as famous, and not anywhere nearly as big as Atsuta, it was still a great experience. Considering it is so close, I definitely intend to visit quite often and meditate, read, study or just enjoy the weather there. Being that it isn't as well known as Atsuta, it is a very serene place that offers the perfect quiteness needed to do everything I just named, while still being beautiful in its own right.

Art Shows

Shodō (書道)

When originally planning for studying abroad in Japan, I specifically chose this program for its immersion and the fact that it is direct enrollment and offers art courses I could take and bring back to my school for credits towards my major. The two classes, and more importantly artistic mediums, I was interested and knew for sure I wanted to take were 書道 (Shodō - Calligraphy) and 版画 (Hanga - Woodblock Printing). Unfortunately when class registration came around I found that taking both of these classes in addition to my required language courses and Japanese Culture & Art either did not add up to the minimum requirement or clashed schedule-wise. I instead had to go with my 3rd art class of choice which was 墨絵 (Sumie - Chinese Black Ink Painting), a decision now that I do not regret in the slightest. For one, Sumie is an insanely fun medium that I'm rapidly learning and advancing in. Secondly because afterwards I found out that my host mother's mother is a calligraphy artist who offered to teach me the basics of calligraphy, what a lucky break! It gets even better. She just so happened to be involved in a calligraphy show that very same weekend! I believe she only had 4 or so pieces in the show but they were truly a sight to behold. Not to mention the other artists involved in the gallery were downright amazing as well! Though I could not read the majority of Japanese kanji being displayed, on top of that some involved Chinese kanji that even my host mother and her mother had a hard time reading; I still very much enjoyed the pure artistry behind everything hanging up on the gallery walls. The experience was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. One piece was big enough to take up an entire wall all on it's own, unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of it though....

Just kidding, check it out. (Using the picture with me in it so you can get a reference to its gigantic size)

This piece below was another one of my favorites. This particular piece brings painting and calligraphy together in a rather genius way, it reminds me of the combination of information and art that is required in graphic design. The kanji translates to "wave".

Ikebana (生け花)

Once again, this story was made possible by my more than gratious host mother, and this time her aunt. I, and 3 of my friends, were invited to an Ikebana exhibition, free of charge! Ikebana, いけばね, can be loosely translated to "bringing flowers to life", and it is the art of Japanese flower arrangement. Prior to this exhibition I must be honest I had very little interest in the idea of flower arrangement, but wow am I glad the opportunity arose because I experienced some of the most beautiful art I have ever witnessed first-hand. As opposed to a "normal" gallery setting, this exhibition was held on the 7th floor of Matsuzakaya, a kind of mega-mall of sorts. The space was set up somewhat like a maze, but only for the purpose of you to walk through the exhibition, as opposed to its purpose being to find a way out, because the last thing I was thinking about was getting out. I must say I enjoyed the idea of this more than seeing all of the pieces plopped into one room with white walls on all four sides and everyone speaking in a whisper. It was a much more lively setting, expecially when you turned the corner to some of the giant pieces that were unexpectedly waiting to be "ooh"-ed and "ahh"-ed at. Within this text I'll post some of my favorite ones and at the bottom of this post in the photo gallery space I will add what I consider to be better photographs but not neccesarily better flower arrangements, in my opinion of course.

More Exploring!!!

What would a weekend, or better yet a day, be without some exploring, adventuring, getting lost, and some good 'ol fashioned human interaction. Since being here I have made it a point to go sightseeing, people watching, and wandering on my own (with a plan of course, well usually anyway). The main reason for this is that it gives me an opportunity to get lost! Sounds crazy I know, but when you get lost with no wifi or battery on your phone you only have one option, a stereotypical man's worst nightmare...to ask for directions! Being as how the entire point of this trip was to get fluent in Japanese, I'd be extremely dissapointed in myself if I couldn't ask for directions all alone...although understanding directions is an entirely different story. Welp regardless some of the adventures you have read about were in fact alone, some were with friends, and some were with my host family. But, as you can see, or just have to take my word for, I am at home safe and sound writing about all the energizing things I have experienced thus far. This section of the post covers bits of adventures including: Osu Kannon, a very popular shopping area, especially for my age group; Yabacho, from what we observed a fairly popular place for foreigners and also where we met some new friends who are very interested, and mostly capable, of speaking and learning english; and other random good photos I took from wherever I may have been at that particular moment. I don't really have any good subheadlines to break up this part so I'll just get on with the photographs.

Osu Kannon mural

Osu Kannon entrance

Walking back home from Shiogama Shrine

Demon masks in Yabacho flea market

Samurai guy at Yabacho flea market

Below are new friends we made in Yabacho at one of their street jam sessions/English exchanges. 

 

 

Moziah Thompson

<p>I am a graphic design student at Georgia State University. I work in a number of mediums including drawing, painting with oils, acrylics, and watercolors, and screen-printing. I tend to draw inspiration from artists such as Chuck Close, Dan Flavin, Roy Lichtenstein, KAWS, and Jeff Koons. I also enjoy studying different artistic styles as a whole, including: surrealism, pop art and Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Other than art and work, the majority of my time goes to listening to music and attempting to learn anything new from photography to playing a saxophone to transcendentalism. **attached creative sample is titled &quot;A Groovy Portrait of a Universal Soul&quot;. 19.5x25.5. Micron pen and watercolor on paper.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2015 Fall
Home university:
Georgia State University
Major:
Graphic Design
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