Tag Archives: museum

Things to See in Ukraine: The Motherland Monument in Kiev Travel Attractions 01 NOV 2016

One of Kiev’s most striking skyline elements is the massive Motherland Monument, also known as Rodina-Mat. Standing at a colossal 62 metres high and visible from just about all over Kiev, there is no surprise in it often being described as one of the capital of Ukraine’s most distinctive features.

motherland-monument-in-kiev-ukraine-1-tanks-in-foreground

Referred to as “Brezhnev’s Daughter” by the locals, the Motherland Monument is a giant stainless steel statue modelled by Vasyl Borodai and built in celebration of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The sculpture is a part of the Museum of The History of Ukraine in World War II, and as a whole, its structure measures 102 m in height, with it weighing in at around 560 tons.

motherland-monument-in-kiev-ukraine-7

The sword in the statue’s right hand is 16 m long weighing 9 tons (interesting fact – it had to be shortened so that it no longer stood higher than the cross of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, aka the Kiev Monastery of the Caves), with the left hand holding up a 13 by 8 m (43 by 26 ft) shield emblazoned with the State Emblem of the Soviet Union.

The Memorial hall of the Museum displays marble plaques with carved names of more than 11,600 soldiers and over 200 workers of the home-front, honored during the war with the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Hero of Socialist Labor respectively.

motherland-monument-in-kiev-ukraine-2-soldiers-marching

The slightly controversial (mostly around cost and choice of premium building material) statue was opened in 1981 (following a short two years of construction) in a ceremony attended by Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev. Interestingly enough, April 2015 saw the parliament of Ukraine outlawing all Soviet and Communist symbols, street names and monuments as a decommunization attempt, but luckily for Mother Motherland, World War II monuments are excluded from these laws.

motherland-monument-in-kiev-ukraine-8

The sheer scale of this statue makes it an interesting  attraction to seek out, and of course, for military history buffs, the associated museum is an absolute treasure trove of information, gear and machinery.

motherland-monument-in-kiev-ukraine-6

(Also, check out Destinations if you are looking for a good Travel Guide about Ukraine)

motherland-monument-in-kiev-ukraine-4-drone-view

motherland-monument-in-kiev-ukraine-5

motherland-monument-in-kiev-ukraine-3-cityscape

Related Link: Motherland Monument | Wikipedia | Kiev

Things to See in USA: The USS Midway Museum in San Diego Travel Attractions 28 JUN 2016

If you are down in California, paying a visit to San Diego, and perhaps have just the slightest of interest in all things military, then it would be particularly foolish to skip out on making a trip down to the USS Midway Museum!

uss midway museum aircraft carrier naval museum in san diego, usa 1

The massive decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Midway, previously America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier (1945-1992) is now a dedicated museum ship, housing an extensive collection of naval aircraft and over 60 ship exhibits brought to life by a self-guided audio tour.

Exhibits range from the crew’s sleeping quarters to a massive galley, engine room, the ship’s jail, officer’s country, post office, machine shops, and pilots’ ready rooms, as well as primary flight control and the bridge high in the island over the flight deck.

uss midway museum aircraft carrier naval museum in san diego, usa 3

Included in the ships restored aircraft inventory is a cornucopia of naval fighters stretching from World War II to Operation Desert Storm. Expect to view planes like the SBD Dauntless dive bomber, the TBM Avenger, F9F Panther, F-4 Phantom, A-6 Intruder and F/A-18 Hornet just to name but a few!

The museum is berthed at Navy Pier which has more than 300 parking spaces. It also is within walking distance of public transportation and other downtown San Diego waterfront attractions.

uss midway museum aircraft carrier naval museum in san diego, usa 5

Opened on 7 June 2004,d by 2012 the USS Midway Museum’s annual visitation exceeded 1 million visitors. As of 2015, Midway now also boasts the tag of being the most popular naval warship museum in the United States!

In other words, a massively popular attraction.

uss midway museum aircraft carrier naval museum in san diego, usa 6

uss midway museum aircraft carrier naval museum in san diego, usa 7

Related Link: USS Midway Museum | Wikipedia

Japan 2014 – 41 Yoshinaka Yakata Museum in Miyanokoshi (2014-10-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 DEC 2015

Stomachs full following our soba noodles at Zcobo, the next stop on our day out with Yuko and the Brown family was a leisurely (more or less, thanks to some wrong turns and narrow town streets) drive through to the town of Miyanokoshi, where Yuko was very keen for us to visit the Yoshinaka Yakata Museum – important because of her ancestral link to the Minamoto clan.

(Ryan and I were just excited that at last we were going to encounter some samurai exhibits!)

IMG_20141009_150054 tomoe gozen with minamoto no yoshinaka at the yoshinaka yakata museum in miyanokoshi

The first thing that greets you as you enter the grounds of the museum is a striking bronze statue of the great Kiso Yoshinaka with the legendary Tomoe Gozen standing guard next to him.

IMG_20141009_151747 view of the grounds of the yoshinaka yakata museum in miyanokoshi, japan

Popularised in the epic Tale of the Heike, Minamoto no Yoshinaka (better known as Kiso Yoshinaka) was a famous shogun and war hero that fought during the Genpei War (1180-1185) which was the culmination of the struggle between the Taira (aka Heike) and Minamoto (aka Genji) clans for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century.

His army defeated the Taira army on numerous occasions and eventually drove them out of Kyoto, only to finally perish at the hands of his own clan in battle, after his plotting to setup a separate government came to light.

IMG_20141009_150734 samurai armour and drum at the yoshinaka yakata museum in miyanokoshi, japan

(Tomoe Gozen also features heavily in the displays, she being Japan’s most famous female samurai, with many legends proclaiming her brilliance in battle.)

The small museum does a great job at telling Kiso Yoshinaka’s tale through murals, reliefs, costumes and dolls – though luckily for us we had Yuko on hand for translation because this certainly isn’t intended as a museum for tourists!

IMG_20141009_151113 kiso yoshinaka story murals at the yoshinaka yakata museum in miyanokoshi, japan

Very much an interesting look into the samurai history of the area, and if you have a Japanese-speaking guide, then worth a recommendation.

Related Link: Minamoto no Yoshinaka | Tomoe Gozen

Japan 2014 – 32 Kyoto’s Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum (2014-10-07) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 19 DEC 2015

Umekoji Park is a large green space in rather crowded Kyoto, and thus quite popular with the locals. Of course, the newly built (2012) aquarium took quite a bite out of the space, but I have to say that as tourists, Ryan and I kind of enjoyed the new attraction.

Next up for us though was something a little less nature and a lot more man-made – Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum was beckoning from literally next door!

IMG_20141007_122509 entrance to umekoji steam locomotive museum, kyoto, japan

The Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum was opened in 1972 on the 100th anniversary of the start of railway operation in Japan.

At the center of the museum is a 20-track roundhouse built in 1914. It was built surrounding a turntable, and houses and exhibits the preserved locomotives. The roundhouse is an Important Cultural Property designated by the government of Japan as the oldest reinforced-concrete car shed extant in Japan.

IMG_20141007_125521 train yard at umekoji steam locomotive museum, kyoto, japan

The former Nijo Station House is the oldest wooden railway station in Japan. The station house was built in 1904 and also served as the main office for the Kyoto Railway Company, a private railway in operation at that time. In 1997 the station house was relocated to the museum site as a railway cultural asset, where it is now used as the entrance way and display hall for the museum.

IMG_20141007_122446 entrance to umekoji steam locomotive museum, kyoto, japan

Although Ryan and I didn’t hop on for the short 1 km trip in a steam locomotive, we thoroughly enjoyed browsing all the displays and artifacts in the station house museum, before moving on to the outside area to admire the 19 steam locomotives on display – all lovingly restored, cared for and in working order!

The beasts are pretty magnificent in their own right, and each with their own bit of history attached.

That said though, I kind of forgot that steam locomotives were generally all painted black. Which means that visually, this wasn’t the most exciting of things that we had come across in Japan!

IMG_20141007_124100 black train at umekoji steam locomotive museum, kyoto, japan

Note: Turns out that we were pretty lucky to see this after all. The museum has subsequently been closed, in the process of a major construction overhaul which will add a massive footprint and a whole lot more trains – including a couple of shinkansen (bullet trains).

From a Japanese  news article:

“The opening date for one of the largest train museums in Japan has been set for April 29 2016, West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) announced Wednesday.

The Kyoto Railway Museum, being developed on a 30,000-sq.-meter site, will exhibit a total of 53 locomotives and train cars it inherited from the former Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, which was on the same site, and the Modern Transportation Museum in Osaka, which is also closed.”

Related Link: Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum

Japan 2014 – 15 Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo (2014-10-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 18 NOV 2015

Having now wandered around the grounds of the solemn Yasukuni Shrine complex in Chiyoda, Tokyo, we turned our attention to the actual reason we had headed out this way in the first place – my hunt to see a Mitsubishi A6M Zero WWII fighter plane.

DSC07341 kamikaze pilot statue at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Situated inside the Yasukuni Shrine complex is the 1882-established Yushukan War Memorial Museum which is self-declared as Japan’s oldest and first military and war museum. 

As a museum maintained by a shrine which is dedicated to the souls of soldiers who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan, it contains various artifacts and documents concerning Japanese war casualties and military activity from the start of the Meiji Restoration to the end of the Pacific War.

DSC07350 world war memorial at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Accused of containing revisionism in its accounts of Japan’s actions in World War II, as well as glorifying Japan’s aggressive militaristic past, the museum obviously courts a lot of controversy, but nevertheless remains an extremely interesting place to visit for war buffs.

DSC07345 war dog at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Outside of the museum is a number of statues dedicated to among others, horses,  dogs, carrier pigeons killed in war service, war widows with children, and even kamikaze pilots!

IMG_20141004_123745 craig lotter next to mitsubishi a6m zero figher plane at Yushukan War Memorial Museum

I was of course there for one thing and one thing only – to see a full scale Mitsubishi A6M Zero, one of my most favourite warbirds as a child – and as a luck would have it, the museum has one standing right there slap bang in the middle of the free to enter entrance hall!

Needless to say, I took a lot (and I mean a lot) of photos of it. Absolute 7th heaven for me I tell you!

DSC07359 mitsubishi a6m zero figher plane at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

As I mentioned, the first floor entrance hall is free of admission, and contains the Zero fighter plane, a Class C56 steam locomotive, a Type 89 15 cm Cannon, and a Type 96 15 cm Howitzer (with shells) as well.

DSC07360 artillery gun at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Floors one and two is then obviously where all the real exhibits are to be found, but having seen the Zero, and to be honest, running a little out of time, Ryan and I decided that we didn’t really need to pay in order see any more war relics (or try to decipher any more Japanese information boards), meaning that we bid the war museum farewell and headed off in the direction of Kitanomaru Park, with our sights now firmly set on the Tokyo Imperial Palace grounds as our next Tokyo point of interest!

(Extra Note 1: Even the police aren’t immune to using cute mascot characters – as indicated by this lost and found sign outside a police station).

IMG_20141004_114303 ryan lotter in chiyoda, tokyo

(Extra Note 2: In South Africa we’ve gotten accustomed to the decline in terms of smoking in public thanks to all the anti-smoking laws that have been passed over the years. Japan used to be a heavy smoking nation themselves, but these days more effort has been made to calm things down a little – like forcing smokers to congregate in very small, marked public smoking areas!)

DSC07347 smokers trailer at Yushukan War Memorial Museum in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Related Links: Yushukan Military Museum | Yasukuni Shrine | Mitsubishi A6M Zero