This is my third night in Matsumoto. When I made this arrangement I thought of Matsumoto as a kind of mountain retreat where I could chill out before my workshop begins. There are mountains all around but it is much more urban than I expected. So, I’ve been sightseeing but taking it much easier than the last two weeks.
View from my hotel.
Matsumoto was the birthplace of Yayoi Kusama, an artist whose work is at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh and all over the world. The city museum of art has a permanent exhibition of her work and was one of the attractions for me. Here are pictures of work outside the museum. A tour group was there posing as I arrived. I never understood the gestures.
No photography was allowed inside the museum. For the most part I didn’t care, but I really wanted to photograph inside her mirrored corridor. The guards kept a tight watch on me. The room was about 20 or 25 feet long and not much wider than the span of my outstretched arms. Both openings had red curtains hanging to the sides. The walls, ceiling and a narrow area on either side of the openings were mirrored. At about waist height on the long walls there was a shelf with small red and white polka dot stuffed shapes. Looking into the mirrors the curtains became columns and even I became a column and everything stretched to infinity. Fantastic. I was alone in the corridor, except for the guards watching me from outside and I wanted to stay forever. I walked through the entire exhibit and decided to go back to the corridor. As I was about to enter several people went into the exhibit before me. I walked past them, past her early art work, and went back into the mirrored corridor. The first woman entered, spent the entire time looking at herself in the mirror, fixing her hair, her backpack and quickly walked out. I don’t think she ever saw the space around her. Two other people walked through quickly, never looking. I wonder if the guards think about this kind of stuff. And I wanted to talk to someone about it. That‘s the downside of traveling alone.
Another feature of Matsumoto is an ukiyoe museum (woodblock prints), supposedly with the largest collection of prints in Japan. However the exhibition space was small so disappointing. I enjoyed the prints but the exhibit I saw in Hiroshima had three times as many.
The most widely promoted tourist site is Matsumoto Castle. It was described as having steep, narrow stairways inside. I did not go in. I am phobic about steep stairways. But it is certainly beautiful.
Nearby was a funny street with old buildings and shops dedicated to frogs. I had soup and salad lunch in a bakery cafe, no frogs.
My favorite discovery was an Inari shrine boxed in by tall buildings near my hotel.