Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Banpaku: The Tower of the Sun, Expo Commemoration Park and Anthropology Museum

Still looking for something to do during spring break? Head over to Banpaku on the monorail (The Osaka Monorail is the longest monorail in the world!) and get a nice taste of Osaka. Get off at Banpaku kinen koen station and this is what you will see.

Banpaku was the site of the 1970 World Expo. The symbol of the expo was the 太陽の塔 or Taiyou no Tou (the Tower of the Sun) created by Taro Okamoto. The Tower of the Sun has three faces which represent the future, present and past. There used to be a face representing the underworld as well but it has been removed and taken to an unspecified location.

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More info (in Japanese):

Lots of spaces and places for sports. Gamba Osaka plays its soccer games here. We had a chance to see some baseball - a perfect spring day.

The climax of the day for visual anthropologists was the National Museum of Ethnology. Indeed, Minpaku is an incredible resource for visual anthropologists.

The museum is home to the Videotheque (description from museum website):

The Videotheque was developed by the Museum in 1977 as the world’s first on-demand video library of its kind. It contains video programs that introduce rituals, performing arts, and the living cultures of peoples around the world, as well as information on the artifacts on exhibit at the Museum. After several renovations to incorporate the latest technology, the fourth-generation Videotheque started service in April 2006.

The new system features a touch-panel screen and uses more graphics to increase user-friendliness. In the spacious booths in the Multifunctional Terminal Room, visitors can watch longer video programs of valuable footage from fieldwork conducted by researchers, sitting on a special-effects sofa that provides special effects corresponding to the selected program.

The museum has several impressive permanent and temporary very impressive exhibitions. There are artifacts that you can see and touch (very rare for a museum, I think - you can also take photos inside the museum as well). There are great photographs and videos dispersed among the artifacts. There is also a digital guide that you can borrow (description from museum website):

The Minpaku Digital Guide is a portable audio-visual device that explains exhibits. Visitors can walk through the exhibitions and freely choose from the recordings in Japanese, English, and Chinese. Using this device, you can clearly hear and see information on the exhibited artifact: what it is used for, where it is used and what kinds of people use it.

One can literally travel the world in this museum. I was especially happy to see exhibitions on Korea, Ainu, and Bali. This museum cannot be fully appreciated in single visit.

Don't let Rangda scare you away. The good lion is there to protect you...

For more info on the museum:

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