Thursday, March 12, 2009
Exploring Tokyo: Setagaya Dori and The Food Museum
(Milk a cow)
Right next to the JRA Equestrian Park, the Tokyo University of Agriculture has their museum. Opened in 2004, the museum is a joint project with the University, and the Research Institute of Evolutionary Biology. Connected to the museum is the Biorium, a small greenhouse with a collection of plants and bushes, along with some fish, lizards and lemurs. The museum also has its own cafe - Cafe Petit Radish. The staff was very friendly and helpful, and the museum brochure is available in English.
(Giant clam shell)
The museum is an interesting mash-up of exhibits. There's the obligatory collection of antique farming equipment, including a foot-powered thresher and a foot-powered water pump. As well as farming displays, such as stuffed chickens and a hands-on simulation for milking a cow. Oddly, there's also a collection of little wooden carvings of animals from around the world (one wood carving had a cow painted over with the U.S. flag).
But, it's important to keep in mind the correlation between scientific research and alcohol. Louis Pasteur was commissioned to determine the process of fermentation, and ended up showing how yeast functions for making beer. For this reason, the university is tied to sake and beer research, and the museum has a large section dedicated to the process of making sake, along with wood block prints, examples of porcelain sake flasks, an entire wall of empty sake bottles, and a small collection of beer bottles and paraphernalia.
In front of the building is a wire coop housing 10 to 20 chickens. The biorium itself has a wide range of plants, including some cacti, a coffee bush, and a Macadamia nut tree. There are a couple aquariums housing lizards and geckos, and several more with various kinds of small fish for sale. The biorium's prized exhibit are the lemurs, and they even advertise the lemurs in ads on the train platforms. They have four species: ring-tailed, ruffed, black and brown. Most of the lemurs are extremely active and spend a lot of time climbing around on the tree branches and limbs.
(Wall'o sake bottles)
You can have a pretty full day trip, if you combine the JRA horse park, the food and AG museum, and the tram line all into one effort. The Kamimachi station for the tram line is a mile or two away, towards Shibuya, and the tram iself runs past Daikeizan Gotoukuji and Setagaya Hachimangu (the Miyanosaka station). One end of the line is at Sangenjaya, just outside of Shibuya, and the tram line cuts across the Odakyu line at the Gotokuji station, making it easy to reach this line from elsewhere in Tokyo. If you don't want to walk to the Food and Agriculture museum from Kamimachi, you can take a bus along Setagaya dori.
(Display case of types of chickens)
(Demon drinking sake)
(Carvings of animals)
(Some of the equipment for making sake. Notice that in the display case are examples of porcelain sake hip flasks.)