Last year at Christmas time I visited Virginia, where my wife’s folks live. We visit them almost every year, usually at Christmas or Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a white Christmas several times in the past, but not this time. It looks very pretty and romantic for people like us from Los Angeles.
My wife’s family used to live in the McLean area, just few blocks from where the CIA headquarters are located. Now they live in a mountainside area called Delaplane about one hour’s driving distance from Washington, D.C. There are many wineries and ranches and the famous Shenandoah River in the area. The Shenandoah inspired a song that has been sung by many artists and is being considered as the official song of the state of Virginia.
The area is a totally different world from the city where I live, and it’s very good for both my body and soul, but far away from everything. You need about half an hour to go anywhere by car. We usually go to Washington, D.C. to visit the Smithsonian and other museums around the mall after we get some things done around the house.
A nice thing about it is that all the museums, including the Smithsonian, are free. We usually visit two or three at a time even though we have the thought, “They are always there, and we can come back any time.” We have already visited quite a few because we’ve been married for a few decades!
One of my favorites is the Hirshhorn Museum, where you can enjoy major works of modern to contemporary art. Two structures of the National Gallery of Art are connected by an underground passage. And in the passageway there is a spectacular installation, “Multiverse” by Leo Villareal, which runs along a people-mover promenade.
This time, we visited the Newseum, the museum of news and journalism. The front pages of newspapers from all over the world are displayed here every day at the building’s entrance area, and you get to read those without having to pay admission to enter the museum.
Once you get inside, symbolic items are displayed. A TV station’s helicopter used for news reporting hangs from the third floor. Also you can see major historic news footage on a huge monitor and an electronic bulletin board in the entrance hall.
There is a corner set aside for a display of part of the wall and watchtower brought from Berlin, Germany. The west side of the wall has lots of graffiti but the other side has none.
One of saddest displays is the antenna from the former World Trade Center North Tower. The walls surrounding the corner are covered by front pages of newspapers of that day from around the world.
Handwritten pieces of the March 12 issue of the Ishimaki Hibi newspaper are displayed. Following the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the pages were written by hand for six days and displayed at convenience stores and evacuation facilities.
I was impressed by the strong words of the president of the newspaper, Kohichi Konoe, who said, “We can publish our news as long as we have paper and pen.” A Newseum employee read the story in The Washington Post and contacted the newspaper to get the copy.
The Rafu Shimpo sends its Tuesday issue to the Newseum every week. The first page is displayed. There is also a display of Japanese Americans in camp during World War II. Another item from Rafu Shimpo is the logo header used for printing in the copper plate printing days.
The view from the balcony on the sixth floor is pretty. Not many places are high enough to see around here unless you work in one of those government buildings. So go out there and check the view when you visit the Newseum.
You need to pay a $25 entry fee, and it’s not cheap. But it covers two days, so you get plenty of time to see the displays there. Oh yes, in addition to the display exhibits, there are videos of historical news footage playing as well, so it is worth visiting at least once!
Ochazuke is a staff-written column. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.
Photos by ICHIRO SHIMIZU/Rafu Shimpo