Rewrite of lost thread.
Here are two panoramic shots taken in the Meirin Gakusha Museum in Hagi City. Takes time for the whole page to load. Look for bottom 2 shots labelled "2号館幕末ミュージアム" here: www.city.hagi.lg.jp/site/meiringakusha/photo.html
On 9th July, eleven of us went on a 14-hour round-trip to a newly opened museum in Hagi City, an old castle town in Yamaguchi Prefecture down near the S.W. tip of Honshu. We went in two cars, and seven drivers took turns driving in revolving 2-hour stints.
The curator of the Meirinkan Gakusha, (old Hagi Domain School) who also donated much of his own collection to make up the backbone of the display rooms, came out to greet us. Old friends. He showed us around 'his' eight rooms of artifacts/artefacts. There was everything you could imagine from the end of Edo, his area of speciality, and in the last two rooms enough guns and cannon and Bakumatsu dress to equip a ship of the line.
Sunday, and the place was fairly popular. An usher at the door insisted on speaking English with me. Before we started I asked if photos would be permitted. Mr Ogawa looked anguished but then answered firmly in the negative. Over lunch I asked if there was a booklet for sale. "Not yet", he murmured apologetically. There is a movement among museums in Japan to allow shots with a smart phone, but not with a proper camera, so I informed him of that too, in case he did not know, but gently of course. Actually I love this old guy and told him I would not take any shots. I also assured him that as soon as I got home I would advertise this place abroad for him. He looked pleased. I left a congratulatory message in the visitors' book.
Imagine my surprise after rooms of truly unique medical equipment, astronomical instruments, compasses, maps etc., to discover several things that I already own, some of which I had not appreciated the uses of.
To my greater surprise, he also had a room full of all kinds of Jingasa, a wall of Nirayama, and another wall of the black soft leather Momonari kabuto/jingasa that I had been wearing recently, perhaps 15 of them, with gold Mon on the front. I took him aside and asked what their correct name should be. He looked me straight in the eye and said, "Jingasa? Boshi? We do not know. That is the problem. So much work still needs to be done in this area!"
The only sword related objects were Choren practice breast plates and bokuto painted to look like real koshirae, mostly from Satsuma.
Jan would have enjoyed the racks of Choshu guns, and Mr Ogawa's explanations of the background to almost every article. For example, fasten your seatbelt, he pointed out that whereas most Choshu guns have chunky 8-sided muzzles, some have bulbous muzzles. Why? This question had puzzled scholars until a certain discovery was made. Yokoyama Tatsuemon Sukenobu is recorded to have gone from Bizen to Yamaguchi with his son to teach gun making. That is how and when the 'Bizen-style' bulbous muzzles appeared! (Choshu were to place orders for thousands of guns from both Sakai and Bizen which had a common ancestry of gun forging.) Tatsuemon Sukenobu, swordsmith turned gunsmith, is growing more and more famous, both here in Bizen, and also down in former Choshu Mohri lands! There is a Gassaku Hono-to sword in a shrine there, made by father and son. Several of our guns in the teppotai proudly bear his name. (In the museum yesterday there was a fully-working little cannon, on original wooden structure, which was made by Sukenobu. Interesting to see this cannon had a matchlock serpentine working through the central spine of the butt to the touch-hole, a feature I have never seen before. The iron pinch flaps reminded me strongly of the ones on my long pistol.)Oh, and other memories bubbled up during the night. For Anthony. Among the Hinawa-Ju were two Ozutsu biggies, a 65 Monme and a good-looking 150 Monme.
He was saying that for each of the first four rooms, the top expert in that field in Japan came in to consult.
Room 1. Astronomy
Room 2. Geographical Surveying
Room 3. Medicine
Room 4. Mechanical arts
Room 5. Bakumatsu Upheavals
Room 6. Military uniforms
Room 7. Guns
Room 8. Cannon
Will the display stay the same, or will he occasionally rotate from his collection, I wonder?
And those massive wigs from the battle of Aizu! Purple, black, white, he had them in a wonderful Aizu display, and more at home he assured me!
Anyway, if you are planning a historical trip to the south west of Japan, try and work this place in the Hagi Domain into your schedule!