My two new friends from the CG department at TBS took me to the Tokyo Edo History museum today. The museum was amazing. I had really been wanting to see Ukiyo prints in person, but had no idea where to go. But this museum delivered with a fine exhibit of prints of the Nihonbashi bridge. There were several prints from Utagawa Hiroshige, one of the most famous Ukiyo artists and my personal favorite.
On the second floor was yet another amazing exhibit of the history of Edo period Japan. Walking through the exhibition I couldn't help think of a few similarities to a lot of U.S. cities aspiring to be urban utopias that I've lived in (Urbana, Berkeley, Oakland, parts of Los Angeles). They had greywater recycling (toilet water reused for crops), weird art shows (kabuki theater), printing (though Ukiyo, not screen), and even independent bookstores (which sold ukiyo prints and novels). Besides the rigid social order and lack of individual rites the exhibit made the time period seem like not such a bad one to live in.
The best part were these amazingly detailed dioramas. Most of them are so large that one has to use binoculars to see to the other side. The figurines are very detailed, The guide mentioned that some of them cost up to 30,000 yen to create!