Wisteria of the Northern Culture Museum

May 18, 2012

Asteroids, Comets, Meteors in Baltimore in 2008 had a cultural “excursion” to a baseball game; ACM 2012 had one to a well-preserved mansion near Niigata known as the Northern Culture Museum.  Preserved through a partnership with an American donor, this expansive manor and its grounds showcase life in the late 19th century in north-western Japan.

Cristina and umbrella

It was raining, so Cristina used one of the clear plastic umbrellas


Wisteria everywhere

Wedding banquet menu

A menu from a wedding banquet feast that went on for days.

Roof beams

Looking up into the roof


A hollowed-out canoe

Cedar beam

This beam was about 20 meters long and made from a single tree supporting the roof of the house

Older-style Japanese characters

Gold on black older-style Japanese characters

Family seals

Family seals

Traditional thatched roofs

Traditional thatched roofs

While working at JAXA, the boys in my lab didn’t seem much interested in their cultural heritage, so they weren’t eager to play tour guide for places such as this one.  While we didn’t have an English-speaking guide for our tour, I was impressed with the elegance and refinement of how the Ito family lived in Niigata.  It being a rainy Tuesday, the house was quiet and serene.  I wonder what the three-day wedding feast was like, the only relic of which is a menu on the wall.

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