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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Amber does Japan...sort of

Fengyuan 豐原 is my daughter's hometown. She was born here, and except for the yearly visits to the States to see her grandparents and aunt, it's the only place she knows. For one afternoon, however, Amber could have been walking the streets of any provincial Japanese city, as virtually everything the two of us did today in downtown Fengyuan seemed to have a Japanese theme.

First off, we had lunch at a Japanese restaurant called Yanagikawa 柳川, run by our next-door neighbors, where Amber proclaimed that tonkatsu 豚カツ (along with steak) was her favorite food in the whole world:

Then we walked up the road to a tea stand called Kurokawa 黒川, where many of the teas are named after Japanese regions (静岡, 宇治 etc.) Amber was quite happy with the complimentary strawberry she was given there:

Still feeling a little hungry after lunch (we did split one set meal, after all), we crossed over to a shop called Sanco that specializes in onigiri おにぎり. Amber did her best Peko-chan ペコちゃん impersonation while we waited for our fried chicken rice ball:

Our final stop was at the local department store, and in particular, a small shop located on the first basement floor that stocks nothing but imported Japanese snack foods. Amber was satisfied with her purchase of a box of Hello Kitty Biscuits ハローキティビスケット (Dad picked up a can of UCC Milk Coffee 缶コーヒー):

Our father-daughter afternoon finished off at a field of cosmos flowers not far from our apartment complex. Amber had a lot of fun making her way among the flowers and butterflies, and she borrowed the camera to take a number of pictures, including the shot below:

More of my 4 year-old budding-Ansel Adams' works can be seen on her photo blog.

On a completely unrelated note is the following Kyōdō News 共同通信社 article from today's Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ ("Law to allow exhibition of Taiwan art"):

"The Diet 国会 will enact a law to smooth the way for an exhibition of ancient Chinese artworks from Taiwan's National Palace Museum 國立故宮博物院, the speaker of Taiwan's Parliament 立法院 said Thursday, according to local media. Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng 王金平 made the remarks after holding discussions earlier in the day with Tadashi Imai 今井正, Japan's new representative to T'aipei 台北, the Central News Agency reported. 'Imai told me that the Japanese Diet is likely to approve the legislation in the first half of the year,' Wang was quoted as saying. He added that several Japanese parliamentarians promised during a recent visit to Taiwan to help push for passage of the act. 'Given the geographic proximity, cultural links and long-term friendship between our two countries, I believe a public exhibition of Palace Museum art treasures in Japan will definitely attract a large audience and turn out to be a resounding success,' Wang said. The National Palace Museum in Taipei is home to the world's largest collection of Chinese art, which was amassed by Chinese emperors over a millennium. The works have only been exhibited in three foreign countries — the United States, Germany and France — all of which enacted laws to guarantee their return to Taiwan after the exhibitions. Without a legal guarantee, Taiwan is concerned China might pressure countries to impound the art collection. After its defeat by communist forces in 1949, the Nationalist 中國國民黨 government fled the mainland to Taiwan, taking with them some 650,000 valuable works of art. Beijing claims sovereignty over the self-governing island and the artworks housed in National Palace Museum as its own."

It's somewhat ironic that Taiwan's most notable non-natural sight has very little to do with Taiwan itself. Calling it the "Chinese Louvre", as one Belgian writer recently did, is overstating the case, but the museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Chinese art. In the (sadly) increasingly unlikely event that this island can one day free itself from its Republic of China 中華民國 shackles and become an independent state in its own right, the question would have to be answered as to what to do with the National Palace Museum's huge collection of mainland artifacts. Perhaps that same Belgian writer could describe them as "Taiwan's Elgin Marbles".

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