Instead I alighted the night bus from Shinjuku outside Okayama station in the pouring rain. On my list of things to do in Okayama were temples and a castle...not exactly the best wet weather travel plans. As I walked into the station, though, I noticed posters for "Japan-Eshi-World," which turned out to be an exhibition of artworks (pretty much exclusively of kawaii girls) in the anime style. AKA, a GREAT rainy day activity. I stopped in the Momotaro Visitor's Center - he is all over Okayama, the legend apparently comes from there - to make sure it was what I thought it was (last day, opened at 10, 800 yen admission, then headed back through the station to where I got off the bus to check it out when it opened at 10.
Although I don't mind the aesthetic appreciation of the human form even when it tends towards ecchi (it would be nice if more of it was targeted at female audiences, because there is definitely a market for it), I feel like art left behind the idea of just painting beautiful women (clothed or not) 150 years ago. I wanted to see something challenging - something that made you question that beauty, or see something beneath it. But by and large, it was lacking.
The second thing I found disappointing was that most of the artworks were digital. Possibly the artists used a pencil at some point, maybe to get started, but there's no guarantee of that, even. It's great - sorta - that we can do so much cool shit with graphics software, but I feel like you lose a part of the artist's soul when they never actually touch the paper. At the end of the 100 commissioned artists was a small showing of - I believe - student artists, and although they weren't as polished as the pros, I felt like there was a lot more interesting stuff happening in these smaller works of art.
I had a look around at the other sculptures in the park around the Benesse Museum, but that orange pumpkin on a pier out over the water is a hard act to follow. I'd just started re-reading Kafka on the Shore - it takes place in Takamatsu, where I was staying that night, so it seemed fitting. The further I get into it, the more that feeling intensifies - even though I'm not intentionally trying to follow Kafka around the island, there's an inescapable sense of place in Murakami's writing. When I came across this sculpture, I had to laugh, thinking about Nakata and his conversations with the pivotal cats in the first part of the book.
I'm staying tonight near Awa Ikeda station, and so far things have gone pretty damn well. No problems getting where I needed to be, or things going wrong. The most vexing thing I've had to deal with is the fact that my trusty* ASUS transformer netbook is crapping out on me, causing me to have to finish this post today and not Monday night like I'd intended (I had caramel TimTams all ready for the blogging party...they're long gone, btw). It's a big change from Mongolia, where getting anywhere - particularly somewhere remote - usually involved hiring someone to drive you. Since the remotest part of my journey happens tomorrow, we'll see if it actually comes down to that.
*By "trusty" I mean - of course - that I can trust it to be a pain in my ass. It's had issues almost since I first got it, including a dodgy battery, not staying on, running through the battery too quickly, and in Amsterdam I dropped the tablet part so the screen is cracked and no longer responds to touch. Right now the keyboard port is the issue...I've ordered a replacement to try and prolong the need to replace it, but we'll see if it works. Otherwise I may not be blogging much til Christmas...