While my wife and mother were cooling their heels at the the closed Modern Transportation Museum, I was at a different station, searching for the Osaka Human Rights Museum. It was a bit of a walk from the station, made longer by my misreading of the map. I ultimately gave in and turned on data roaming to pull down some digital navigation assistance. Thankfully for you, dear reader, I'm not subjecting you to another post (primarily) about wars, past or present. This museum is primarily focused on the human rights situation in modern Japan and many of the displays, including AIDS quilts and rainbow flags, were instantly recognizable even though the displays were in Japanese.
The first zone of the single floor of exhibits was entitled Shining Light. This section could be a bit sign-heavy, but there were pictures to help and I got both an English audio guide and a printed notebook with translations to help. The displays were also rich in photographs and pictures taking on issues of gender discrimination, LGBTQ rights, the rights of the disabled, and even a significant section on children. My comprehension level wasn't quite high enough to grasp how some of the displays might have been different than their equivalent in the United States, although I know that the struggle for gender equality in Japan is very much ongoing.
I dwelled the longest in the second zone, Living Together/Creating Society which focused on ethnic minority groups within Japan as well as other communities facing human rights issues, often for health or environmental reasons. Displays included rich coverage of Korean and Chinese immigrants, the Ainu people, and native Okinawans. In the Korean section, I found particularly affecting a set of captioned home videos on the post-War Korean community in Japan including a celebration in Kyoto of the liberation of the peninsula on the first anniversary of Victory in Japan day. The section on the Ainu and the Okinawans both focused on their living culture, although of course in the latter case the U.S. military base adds a whole different set of issues to the discussion.
One piece that did particular catch my eyes was a flag that was both instantly recognizable and unfamiliar. To the left is a was the banner of a Christian group in Japan, a red crown of thorns on a black field. The museum really did do an admirable job getting at the history of a range of groups and the last section on Dreams/The Future as well as the staffers in the front office and bookstore all left me feeling good about the Japanese activist community.
I left a bit before closing, rushing back to the loop train to try to get a half hour in at the Modern Transportation Museum, which unbeknownst to me had been closed this whole time. I somehow managed to miss Kate and Mom on the platform and wandered around the building once before running into them. Happily, we did have one fond train story coming out of that particular excursion. At the transfer station on the way to meet up with Moti and Francis we spied the poster on the right, celebrating the 110th anniversary of Osaka's transit system. One of the booth attendants saw us doing that and rushed up, but gladly this was not a fusspot of the paranoid American-style. Instead, the gentleman had just recognized us as transit geeks and gave us three post card copies of the poster to send out as we wished. That encounter brightened our day and took some of the sting out of the missed connections at the museum.