Everyone has unique habits, right? One of my weirdest habits is to spend a long time at a museum. When I travel and whenever I have enough time, I visit a museum of the place. When I visited Toronto for the first time in 2002, I went to ROM, Royal Ontario Museum, and loved it. Since then, I’ve visited there a few times, but I always don’t have enough time. Today I entered at 10:30 am and stayed until it closes at 5:30 pm, but seven hours was not enough to indulge my passion for culture.
I prefer museum to art gallery. Most pieces displayed in a museum were, unlike those in an art gallery, originally made because it was needed for something: for religious belief, politics, war, or most interestingly, for daily life of the time. Who imagined that a bowl that they used daily would be displayed in a museum thousands of years after? When I stand in front of a piece of ancient kitchenware, I imagine how artisans made it and how people used it. I visualize their life, and find I spent a long time at one place in the museum… I know this is a weird habit.
Another favorite thing to do at a museum is to see Japanese things. Many people suppose that I dislike Japan because I talk about lots of bad things about Japan. But it’s not true. Think in this way; how many people who have been married for decades talk about good things about their spouse? When I visit a museum outside of Japan and see Japanese things, I feel pride in it, and even feel encouraged. Today I found a piece of Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) made by my most favorite Ukiyoe artist, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, and stood in front of it for a few minutes. I was happy because I could tell it was his work before reading the description, and happy to see his work outside of Japan. Because I was watching it for so long time, some Canadians seemed to think it was something special, and looked at it curiously!
One thing that I am not very happy about in ROM is the collection of “the local”. Glenbow Museum is one of my favorite places in Calgary. It’s way smaller than ROM, but their collection of Native North America is, as far as I remember, more impressive than that in ROM. My most favorite museum in Japan is Tokyo National Museum. They have a huge collection of Japanese things. When I was in Japan and a Canadian friend of mine visited Japan, I brought her to Tokyo National Museum because she is interested in Japanese culture. Both of us were impressed, and I was proud of it. Another example of great collection of “the local” is Museum of Anthropology in the University of British Columbia where I spent a long time but needed more time. If ROM has something like that… I will need even more time to stay there!?