2007/01/12

Gone To Pot

After leaving Kasama Inari Jinja, we headed up nearby Mt. Sashiro, which overlooks the city. On its slopes is an old ryokan/hotel - Hotel Yamanoso. Looking rather like a castle, and in fact being located near the ruins of Kasama Castle, the hotel has a most intersting lobby. In a window display case by the entrance, one is greeted by a mounted polar bear, two meters tall, but what we came to see was inside.

The hotel has a wonderful collection of perhaps 50 or more suits of Japanese armor, a beautiful laquer planiquin, saddles, muskets, portable Shinto shrine, and other historical objects. The suits of armor are lined up in glass cases surrounding the lobby. At the front desk, K asked for permission to look around which was enthusiastically granted.



I imagined how spooky it might be to wander into this lobby at night with no one around and feel the empty stares of the suits of armor..... Good thing I don't believe in g-g-g-ghosts.

Some of the suits had multiple family crests displayed. That seemed odd, but we learned the reason for it: wealthy warlords would rent out suits of armor to their less wealthy counterparts who had a battle to fight. Something like renting a tuxedo today, I suppose. Don't know if they wanted a large deposit - just in case.

Three of the suits were owned by members of the famous "47 Ako Roshi" - aslo known as the 47 Ronin (masterless Samurai) who avenged their master's death in the year 1702. They became legends and have been much glorified in books, movies, and television shows.

One particular suit of armor was of special interest to me. It had belonged to a warlord of the Satake Clan, the same family that sponsored Satake-ji temple in Hitachi Ota City that we visited on December 3 of last year.


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Satake-ji founded in 1177


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Satake Warlord's Suit of Armor (center)


As I mentioned in the previous post, Kasama is noted for its pottery. In fact, the new Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum is there, and that's where we headed next. We enjoyed our picnic lunch in the parking lot of the museum.

The museum has huge aluminum doors at the entrance that automatically slide apart just as you approach them and close behind you, two meters inside there is another set that do the same thing. They reminded us of the beginning sequence of the 60's hit TV comedy series "Get Smart" which you can watch if click on the name.

The museum has modern and contemporary pottery, some of which was executed by artists with the distinction of being "Living National Treasures" of Japan. In one section there is a large screen where you can watch six short video presentations showing how different types of pottery is made. I think K was hoping to find some older examples of the art, but generally, the oldest we saw were from the early 20th century. There were several I would have liked to take home, but they wouldn't fit in my jacket.


After we left the museum, we browsed the stalls of artists offering their wares in an open air market.

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Open air ceramics market.

Soon it was time to move on. Our pilgrimage was not over yet by a long shot.

To be continued....

3 comments:

The Moody Minstrel said...

Ah...natsukashiii...

I went to the ceramic art museum on a school trip a few years ago. It is really cool. I haven't seen that ryoukan yet, though. Maybe a good reason to visit Kasama again?

Don Snabulus said...

What a great pilgrimage. Maybe we should do our own little Oregon pilgrimage...

Pandabonium said...

Moody - I can't imagine taking a group of school children through there (herd of bulls in a china shop comes to mind) - though the "classic" pieces are behind glass. I guess you trip went well though for you to have nostalic feelings about it.

I don't know if Hotel Yamanoso is enough reason by itself to make the trip, but in combination with some other places would be. I was surprised at how much there is to see and do in Kasama. We barely scratched the surface.


Snabby - Great ides. You've been working too many hours anyway - take a break, wander around Oregon, and take lots of pics to share.