Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

The newly-opened Mori Art Museum atop the new Roppongi Hills complex is another must-see art gallery in Tokyo. The space was much larger than I had expected. It’s very big.

The opening exhibition titled “Happiness” was good. All forms of art are featured–paintings, sculpture, woodblock prints, etc. Only 2 days left to see it since it will end on Jan. 18. I was delighted that there was no censoring of the pornographic “shunga” woodblock prints and paintings showing genitals. Maybe woodblock prints and paintings are OK, but I wonder if photographs of genitalia would be allowed or not. (There were no such photos.)

Photography was included in the show, namely Nobuyoshi Araki (happy faces), Yasumasa Morimura, and Hiroshi Sugimoto (seascapes).

The museum admission (1,500 yen) also includes admission to the observation deck on the 53rd floor. The view is breathtaking, even at night. The picture windows extend from the floor to the ceiling so it affords a terrific view. There are also benches right in front of the windows so you can just sit and gaze out. Another prime date spot for Tokyoites.

Another good thing about the museum is that it’s open late at night, till 10 pm or midnight. Only on Tue., it closes at 5 pm for maintenance. Roppongi is Tokyo’s major night spot, so the late hours would still attract visitors.

Akebono gone from sumo

Shockingly and sadly, Akebono has resigned from the Japan Sumo Association on Nov. 6, 2003. This means he will no longer be a sumo elder nor a coach.

He plans to become a pro wrestler and his first match will be against Bob Sapp in late Dec.

He is not the first former yokozuna to go this route. There were others like Wajima and Futahaguro, who both left sumo in disgrace and now living in obscurity.

It’s going to be hard to accept Akebono as an entertainment-oriented wrestler.

My photo of Edward Seidensticker in Int’l Herald Tribune

In the Oct. 4-5, 2003 issue of the International Herald Tribune newspaper, the photo I took of translator Edward G. Seidensticker (above) appeared in the Books & Culture column written by my friend Ralph Cassell. It was the first time a photo of mine (properly credited) appeared in this newspaper.

The article titled, “Translator recalls what he got (and missed) over half a century,” was about a talk Seidensticker gave in Tokyo to the Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators (SWET) on Sept. 27.

In the translation world, Seidensticker is a legendary figure best-known for translating masterpiece Japanese novels such as Yasunari Kawabata’s Nobel Prize-winning “Snow Country” (Yukiguni), Murasaki Shikibu’s “Tale of Genji, and Jun’inchiro Tanizaki’s “The Makioka Sisters” (Sasameyuki).

Seidensticker accompanied Kawabata to Stockholm in 1968 for the Nobel Prize awards ceremony. Without Seidensticker’s English translation, Kawabata would not have won the prize.

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