Thursday, June 02, 2011

Beware the tanuki

At Naoshima the last two night, we slept in pao, yurts, a few yards from the beach overlooking the Inland Sea. Lodgings this trip have been simple and utilitarian, as befits the quasi-pilgrims we are, and these might have been the simplest so far. I loved falling asleep to the sound of the ocean right outside my door, something I treasure about the Jersey shore, too. And this was a much quieter space than the Jersey shore - no boardwalk (but ice cream available at the little cafe near the front). What Naoshima has that Sea Isle City doesn't is tanuki - small civet cats. You sometimes see statues of these outside Japanese houses, mischevious little animals akin to raccoons, I think. We saw one crossing the road high in the mountains outside Kamikatsu earlier this week.

There were signs at the place we stayed in Naoshima addressed to the tanuki: don't play with the humans' shoes, don't eat the humans' food and use the bathroom in your own house, not the humans' (we suspect this last is an indrect hint for the humans, the bathrooms are a bit of a schlep at night). We were warned to take our shoes into the yurt, not leave them outside, lest the tanuki make off with them (and since I have just the one pair of shoes with me, that would be a problem).

The first night I drifted off to the gentle sound of the waves shushing on the rocky beach, only to be woken somewhere in the middle of the night by a tanuki scrabbling at the yurt wall just outside my window, determined to get inside. He was, at the last, foiled, but the encounter gave me odd dreams the rest of the night.

This morning Marc and I went to tour the Chichu museum, another Tadao Ando building on Naoshima. The building is entirely underground, there is no structure protruding whatsoever, yet several of the galleries are lit by natural light. The collection is small, 5 Monet's in a setting that is as arresting (perhaps even more?) as the paintings. You walk into the room (in slippers, no shoes; they brought Marc an extra large pair slippers, even here the slippers are often huge on me), coming face to face with a huge canvas, framed in the dark doorway, on a white wall that virtually glows. The floor is one inch square cubes of grey and white marble, with clear separations between each cube (the mortar has not been worked into the cracks). The corners of the room don't meet at right angles, but are curved, giving the sensation that you aren't quite sure where the space ends, where are the walls? The paintings seemingly float in midair.

The museum also houses three more pieces by James Turell, include one that was a lighter version of Backside of the Moon. You climbed up a set of black marble steps into a room lit by blacklights and neon tubes. The walls fluoresced pretty strongly and again there was the sensation of not being sure where boundaries were. I was fascinated to note that when I took off my glasses (which screen out a fair amount of UV), the sensation was enhanced, just how much do we see in the UV?

1 comment:

  1. glad the tanuki did not get your shoes

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