Sunday, May 8, 2011

Getting Lost On The Way To The Geographer

Oh, the irony!

Last Wednesday we headed for the Shibuya ward of Tokyo to see the Geographer. We had been there twice before in the last several years and I thought I knew the way well enough. (Such assumptions are always a mistake. It is the reason that airplane pilots at every level always use a written checklist. It doesn't matter how many times we do something, we are fallible.)

I should have looked at a MAP before leaving home (what a concept! - looking at a map to find a geographer). Shibuya has a lot of curved streets that fan out from the train station and make for forks in the roads. It is also an incredibly noisy place with huge video screens on buildings, stage performers on street corners, and stores blaring music and/or advertising messages onto the sidewalk - very disorienting. (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). I took a left instead of a right and as we walked, and walked, and walked, and as our destination failed to appear (we were on a road which curved away from it), we realized I had, uh, goofed. At least the route I chose had no retailers with blaring bull horns and had lovely trees on either side instead.

Finding a crude map on a construction sign, we adjusted course. Once again I screwed up! (Here I blame the lousy map). But we were getting closer. Sort of. Another turn and we finally arrived after a few more blocks. Whew. What should of been a 7 minute walk had turned into, well, let's just say ... a long morning adventure.

The place we were going was the Bunkamura art center - a building that offers music, drama, cinema and art plus shops and restaurants under one roof. The "Geographer" we went there to see was the painting of that name by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer van Delft (1632-1675).

This painting was centered on a wall with a 17th century map on the wall to the right, a globe and compasses (dividers) dated 1700 in one corner, and a globe of the heavens in the corner to the left of the painting. To me, Vermeer was the master of masters when it came to controlling light. A favorite of ours, we go to exhibitions of his works whenever they come to Tokyo.

The event is titled Vermeer "Geographer" The Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the Städel Museum and so in addition to Vermeer's magnificent work, there are ninety-four other works by 17th Century Dutch and Flemish painters with the following categories: History Painting and Allegory; Portraiture; Genre and Interior Scenes; Still Life; Landscape & Topography (which included several painting of sailing ships).

Before we went in, I treated Kimie to a lunch of soba and tempura in the adjacent department store as an offering of apology for getting us lost, and after seeing the exhibit, to coffee and dessert. She forgave me.

Coffee and dessert at Bunkamura: ¥995 yen each (the cost of an entire lunch at Mama's Kitchen). Forgiveness for getting us lost on the way to the Geographer: priceless.

Next time, you can bet I'll be sure to plan ahead and carry a reference map of the area we will visit with me - even if we've been there a dozen times before!

Until next, sweet sailing!


Kehlwok said...

I've done that before. On the plus side, at least you didn't bring a GPS and get stranded in the wild for 48 days. I can see what you mean by the use of light in the painting. Beautiful.

Pandabonium said...

Kehlwok - I can get lost without the complexity of gps. We could find the right way if we just asked for help - we passed a police box, several convenience stores, postal works, etc. But in our case it is K who is recalcitrant to ask. Happily, I managed to find it - eventually - by dumb luck. :^)