|Tourist in the rain|
Across the way from the station was the shopping mall called Kitte (Japanese for postage stamp) which is housed in the old central post office building, a striking 1930s edifice, to which has now been added a huge tower to house all those trendy boutiques and restaurants. We went in to find some shelter and sustenance.
National Museum of Modern Art. We found that one of the major exhibitions was of an artist I'd never heard of, shamefully, despite the fact that he was a modernist operating in Paris in the twenties. He was Tsuguharu (Leonard) Foujita, and what a fascinating man he turned out to be. He knew many of the big names of the avant-garde, such as Modigliani and Picasso, had a chaotic personal life, and was more commercially successful than many of his contemporaries, mainly because he painted lots of cats.
|Foujita, Self Portrait with cat. Image: irinaraquel on Flickr|
The Headquarters of the Imperial Guards was also the setting of an event of great historical importance. In the late night and early morning of August 14 and 15, 1945, a group of Army officers plotted to prevent the broadcast of the Emperor’s statement to the nation announcing Japan’s surrender, ending World War II, scheduled for noon on August 15. They murdered Lieutenant General Mori of the Imperial Guards Division and issued an order in his name to seize the recording of the Emperor’s statement and thus prevent the war from coming to an end. That attempted coup d’etat occurred in the Imperial Guards’ headquarters, making the building the site of one of the most critical incidents in the modern history of Japan.
We enjoyed the work of Kuriki Tatsusuke, whose pots were decorative rather than functional, often featuring bands of clay woven around a central form. It was a pleasant and peaceful way to end our soggy trudge around this part of Tokyo. We had an early start for the journey home, so we went back to our hotel, and began to try to understand what we had experienced.