Giant Kokeshi Doll by Yotta at Kiyomizu Dera, Kyoto

This Week in Osaka and Kyoto – 15 March 2022

Mac here! This week took me to Kansai, and the great cities of Osaka and Kyoto. As always I find myself faced with the same problem: how to distil a fantastic time travelling around Japan into the five photo format of ‘This Week in…’ Here goes!

From 5 to 13 March 2022 a giant kokeshi doll greeted visitors to Kiyomizu Dera temple in Kyoto. Created by artist collective yotta (consisting of Kizaki Kimitaka, Kanetani Koji and Yamawaki Hiromichi), the 12.5-metre tall inflatable doll, called Hanako, not only does a great job of lying down and entertaining guests, but also chats and sings.

It was all part of the 2022 Artists’ Fair Kyoto. What makes this art festival unique though is the use of corporate buildings and important cultural properties as off-beat exhibition spaces. Kiyomizu Dera definitely fit the bill.

Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka

Off to Osaka now, but sticking with the art theme… I visited the Nakanoshima Museum of Art for the first time. The museum finally opened, after almost four decades of planning, in February 2022. The opening exhibition, ‘Hello! Super Collection – 99 Untold Stories’ is running from 2 February until 21 March. It’s a real statement of intent by the museum, showcasing select pieces from its vast collection. The Borg Cube-like building itself is iconic, and standing guard is SHIP’s CAT (Muse) by Kenji Yanobe.

Glico Running Man Osaka

Off to another much older Osaka icon. The Glico running man dates back to 1935 and advertises Glico, who many are familiar with through their most popular product, Pocky. Company founder Riichi Ezaki created a caramel energy bar in 1922, adding glycogen from oysters to the snack. It was said each treat could give you energy to run 300 metres, hence the running man.

It’s tough to get the angle I got on this arm-out photo unless you are on the water, which I was, cruising on Osaka’s rivers and canals on the Ofune Camome, a vessel which was originally a pearl cultivation boat from Amakusa in Kyushu before getting a second lease of life in Osaka in 2009.

Osaka Sumo Tournament March 2022 Opening Day

Sunday 13 March was the opening day of the Osaka Sumo Basho, held at the EDION Arena. Opening day is a great time to go to sumo. One of the reasons is you get to see the return of the Emperor’s Cup, all 108cm and 30kg of it!

Hotel Intergate Osaka Umeda

All this eclectic tourism deserves a funky place to stay. The Hotel Intergate Osaka Umeda was my choice.

The Hotel Intergate Osaka Umeda is in an excellent location, great breakfast and nighttime ochazuke buffet, awesome morning smoothie and coffee service and much more… including a dedication to local crafts and some phenomenal art pieces all around the hotel. Just check out the elevator lobby!

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