Mishap In Ueno

Eek, it’s coming down out there!! I can’t remember exactly how long we have been putting up with this miserable weather. But it’s been an awfully long time. Only last Sunday, I saw le ciel bleu. A blue sky was such a rare commodity nowadays. And I already feel like it happened months ago already.
As I sipped latte at the Photographers’ Gallery cafe, I wondered how my poor mum was coping with her share of the present adverse weather in Japan. At the moment, central & northern Japan is buried under the snow. The amount of snowfall is unprecedented and the mayhem it has caused already affecting the daily lives of millions of people in the region.
Oh how I wish if I were there to do all the Yukikaki (雪かき) – shovelling snow – she has to do! She has to sweat over this lonely thankless battle against heavy wet snow 3 times a day so she can keep a footpath open for a postman. Please, please, Captain Kirk, could I borrow your Transporter?
During our Skype call this morning, she reported that the shelves of her local supermarket were now almost bare because no delivery could get through to them. Sensing my concern, she assured me that she had a plenty of food in stock therefore no need to worry. I hope this extreme condition will cease soon and give mum her normal life back.

By looking at the photo now, I can’t believe it was only a month ago…


The sun was shining in Tokyo. It wasn’t particularly warm but the air was dry and calm.

A panda bear greeted us…


Why a panda in Ueno?
Because there is a zoo in Ueno Park and a pair of pandas there is undoubtedly the best crowd-puller of the zoo. I remember visiting the zoo to see Lan Lan & Kan Kan, a very first panda couple in Japan, as a child. Their enclosure was very popular and no one was allowed to stop and stare. As zoo keepers with loud-speakers urged us to keep on moving, I tiptoes & craned my neck to get a glimpse of the precious beasts. Then, I was rather unimpressed by finding the bears behind a sound-proofed glazing, in afternoon kip with their bellies up and motionless.

We didn’t have any rigid literary during our holiday in Tokyo. However, we wanted to do something cultural together so decided to see the Monet exhibition at Kokuritsu Seiyō Bijutsukan (国立西洋美術館) – National Museum of Western Art…


For any architectural groupie, visiting this museum will be a delight because the building was designed by Le Corbusier.
After WWII, a huge Western art collection accumulated by a shipbuilding tycoon, Mr.Matsukata in pre-war Europe, was requested to be returned to France by the Allies. Through a lengthy negotiation between the French government and the Japanese counterpart over 6 years, the collection was finally granted to remain in Japan, provided a museum specifically designed for Western art was to be built and the collection was to be exhibited there. The project was seen as a symbol of resumption of diplomatic ties between France and Japan, therefore, the design of the museum was trusted to Le Corbusier who was the most prominent architect of the 20th century.

We were super excited about the exhibition and couldn’t walk any faster. Then, we noticed something wasn’t quite right…


The gate was firmly shut.
‘Is it closed today…?! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!’
Apparently, they were closed on every Monday. In UK, galleries & museums were to close only on Xmas Day, Boxing Day & New Year Day. So I assumed it was the same in Japan. Poor mum was crestfallen. Sorry mum, I should have checked their homepage…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

10 thoughts on “Mishap In Ueno

  1. It’s a bad sign when someone in London pities you for having lousy winter weather! On the plus side, here in Tokyo at least, it’s been unusually wintry these last few weeks, but on the plus side at least the snow they were forecasting for today (Wednesday) and tomorrow never materialized. Of course, there’s still some from last weekend, but day by day even that is disappearing. Hopefully your mom’s local supermarket is getting supplies again as usual… Please let me know if Captain Kirk comes through with that Transporter – I could use one myself!

    • Yes indeed! It’s a bit scary that this freakish weather is raging in all over the world. My Italian friend was moaning about her home town being flooded the other day. Let’s hope this is just one odd event. I talked with mum this morning about the life in Nagano. She said its almost back to normal. However, so many greenhouses were damaged by this crazy snowfall, vegetables are gonna be expensive. Ohhh, there are always some imprecations, aren’t there? About the Transporter, if it’s not available, we should ask Doraemon for his “Dokodemo-door”…

  2. Hope the weather clears up soon and your mum won’t have to work so hard! I used to love snow (since I’m from tropical Singapore with no seasons whatsoever) and remember running to Mini Stop in flip flops in Tokyo to tell the staff there it was my first time seeing falling snow! But now, I just dread having to deal with snow. They can be pretty but such a hazard!

    It’s a shame you and your mum didn’t get to go to the museum. Looks like Germany is the same too. All the museums are shut (and so expensive!) on Mondays.

    • Hi there. My mum sounded ok when I skyped her this morning. Apparently, groceries are back on the shelves in her local supermarket and only stubborn snow tracks on side streets are refusing to melt away. She sounded rather depressed because her favourite Japanese figure skater, Mao Asada, didn’t perform very well!
      Is It snowing in Germany? In London, it is yet again rain & shine. Even though it is not cold, almost every single day, it rains. Oh, I’d love to be umbrella free.
      So they charge admission to enter museums & galleries in Germany? It’s like France! Then, I feel rather lucky to be in UK ☺️

      • Hello, glad to know things are getting back to normal for your mum. Did Mao Asada not do too well? What a shame! I’ve only seen her on Japanese TV a couple of times and she’s usually brilliant.

        We’ve been lucky this winter in Germany. No snow and temperatures have well been above zero (unlike the previous winter which was dreadful!).

        The temperatures are definitely rising these days and spring will soon be knocking on our doors! Yay!! Hopefully it clears up in London soon so you can enjoy a little sunshine! 🙂

      • The weather in Europe is a little to mild, isn’t it? I am concerned if the summer is gonna be as freakish as this winter 😱
        No, Mao did really badly. Instead of being the 1st ( or in top 5), she is the 16th. We are all disappointed but Mao must be feeling even far worse than us. I hope she can pick herself up and do better in today’s free skating. Fingers crossed for her!

    • Oh thank you for caring about my mum. Now the snow has stopped in Nagano and the life over there is coming back to normal.
      Yeah, I didn’t realise their opening hour. I should have checked before we left 😂

  3. Your mother is very lucky to have a daughter like you worrying about her. I hope things have returned back to normal for her. Having lived in Southern California my whole life I have no idea what it’s like to be snowed on. Our main worry weather-wise are droughts. We’re currently in the middle of another one, it’s hardly rained over the past few years. I’m sorry to hear the museum was closed when you went, it’s always a bummer when those things happen. I remember going to the National Science Museum right next door back in 2008. How time flies, it seems like just yesterday!

    • Thank you for caring about my mum. Every time the weather get worse in Nagano, I feel helpless because she is on her own. Nagano is a beautiful place and pleasant to live except during winter. Removing snow from driveway is a hard work and has to be done constantly during heavy snowfall. Or otherwise, the ice on the path freezes and turns to solid ice. Once it sets like that, the only thing it can remove it is a sledge hammer 😱
      I am not sure which I prefer, drought or snow. Drought is bad for forest fire, isn’t it? Either way, I prefer them to be moderate…😁

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