Saturday, October 12, 2013

Edward Morse's Collection

Edo Tokyo Museum is showing a special exhibit on Edward Morse’s collection.  From 1877, he visited Japan three times for total of four years.  Four years seem not enough time to learn Japanese culture, but it’s amazing how much he observed and collected Japanese utensils. 

It was a strange experience, to be honest.  Museum viewers came in and looked at similar items with which I grew up.  It wasn’t that long ago.  No kidding!  We were using them in my house except the items for painting teeth black.

A one-sided-blade knife was in a showcase with a stone to sharpen it.  Its label said the knife to cut fish.  It was small.  It must be appropriate size for most housewives then.

What I appreciateed most was children’s smiles in the photos.  I don’t know if Morse took those photos himself or not, but I’m sure he made them laugh.  That’s a big contribution for his work which he tried to depict day to day Japanese. 

Before I left the museum, I went up to the sixth floor and browsed their regular Edo exhibits.  I took off my shoes and went up to a wooden house like the one I grew up in.  I came out, and I was about to leave when I heard a couple speaking in English.  A man said, “Is this a school?”  So, we chatted a while.  They were from New York.

7:30 pm was closing time.  I headed to the station.  It was dark and no people around.  The location is the middle of Tokyo and very lonely looking place, I thought.  Gee, similar house in which I grew up was in the museum already!  This is a weird image.  Unfortunately, many young Japanese haven’t had experience in living in such house and even older people, too, never seen some of those utensils that Morse brought back to America growing up.  Right now, I have a renter in my wooden house, but I must preserve it.  I don’t want it disappear.  So, this is usually my problem, but yesterday, I reconfirmed that it is my happiness.  

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