Hi Hi sisters ....... Thank you so much for your warm and comforting words. I am trying to write a little at a time, as physically allowed, so my brain and fingers won’t become idle :) You remember when Yong Joon was in Tokyo last month, he went to Meguro Gajoen (目黒雅叙園) to look at his teacher Mr. Jung Yun Bok’s art restoration work?
As the name suggests, Gajoen means ‘elegant meeting place’. It first opened in 1928 (Showa 3rd year) as a fairytale wedding palace adorned with beautiful paintings and decorative panels. It underwent major reconstruction and was re-opened in 1991 (Heisei 3rd year) with a ryokan-style hotel, traditional banquet halls, modern conference rooms and fine cuisine restaurants. A small original portion of Gajoen was preserved – Hyakudan Kaidan (100 Steps Stairway) and is incorporated as a Heritage Museum.
Since Meguro Gajoen is meant more for Japanese functions, so it does not make it into a busy tourist’s top 10 must-see attractions in Tokyo. 2 weeks ago, Olivia, cloudnine, our imooto-chan and me picked a warm sunny day to visit Gajoen and hoping to trace our Yong Joon’s footsteps. You can conveniently include Gajoen in your itinerary while visiting Gosireh and Park BOF. It is off the Meguro station, just 2 train stops from Gosireh at the end of the Namboku line or on the JR Yamanote line, then walk 5 minutes downhill, voila ......
Yes, this modern glass-paned highrise is the new Meguro Gajoen, totally different from the old Japanese architecture that I expected! Knowing me, as I walked in, I was already like ‘a monkey has its leash loosened’ and started wandering off, clicking happily everywhere. Our dear Olivia had arranged a sumptuous buffet lunch for us at 1pm in the Club Lounge, so we had 2 free hours to enjoy the heritage treasure Hyakudan Kaidan. Hehe, just in case you wonder why this is of interest to you, please let me translate an excerpt from a BOFi staff’s journal, who accompanied Yong Joon during this 12 days’ Japan trip :
"March 4 evening, Yong Joon arrived in Tokyo and checked into his hotel, he and his staff went straight to sleep. The next day, Yong Joon went to Meguro Gajoen to look at the renovated lacquer artworks of Mr. Jung Yun Bok. The mother-of-pearl inlaid artworks handcrafted by Mr. Jung can be seen everywhere in the banquet rooms, elevators, restrooms, even on the handrails. The art personnel described Mr. Jung’s work as graceful and refined, which attract many tour groups to visit.
Yonsama walked through the entire ground of Gajoen, fixating his eyes on these magnificent lacquer artworks. It also happened that the renowned traditional painter Hirayama Ikuo (平山郁夫) was hosting his art exhibition in Hyakudan Kaidan. Yong Joon inquired politely, "if I am not causing too much inconvenience, please let me look at the exhibition ....." Since shoes are not allowed inside Hyakudan Kaidan, he took off his shoes and wore one of the white slippers provided. He stayed inside the museum for 1 hour, enthusiastically going through the art exhibition."
So, 2 things we learned from this story :
1. You got to have impeccable pedicure at all times, because in Japan, you never know when you have to take off your shoes! OK for men, better make sure no holes in your socks :)
2. I should have tried on all 100 pairs of their white slippers, since I didn’t know which 2 HRH had put his royal feet into!
Enough nonsense from me, sorry no camera is allowed inside Hyakudan Kaidan, so I will use the pictures from Meguro Gajoen’s official website (www.megurogajoen.co.jp) Btw, if you ever need to navigate through any Japanese website, you’ll find that they offer a lot more information and pictures than its English counterpart. I find these are extremely beautiful and elaborately decorated rooms by Japanese standards, I didn't even find these in Kyoto palaces!
Hyakudan Kaidan, there are 6 rooms off various levels along the 100 steps. Hehe, no time to count if it’s really 100 steps :)
Juppo no ma
Gyosho no ma
Sohkyu no ma
Seisui no ma
Seikoh no ma
Kiyokata no ma
Hirayama Ikuo’s paintings were displayed along the walls in all 6 rooms. I heard from Olivia that he is renowned for his paintings depicting the Silk Road in China. In this particular exhibition, he chose all Japanese water colors with modern landscapes in mostly cool blue and white. Eventhough I felt that they were not in harmony with the rich ornate décor of Hyakudan Kaidan, however maybe it was the artist’s intention not to compete with such heritage beauty.
From Hirayama Ikuo’s museum website (www.hirayama-museum.or.jp)
Time flew, I really wanted to go around one more time as I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of Hyakudan Kaidan, but our lunch reservation could not wait plus we still haven't seen any of Mr. Jung's artworks ......