The Value of Art for the Japanese
It is noticeable, especially for those who have frequented Japan a lot, that there are a number of art museums spread out all over the country. There are art museums for modern art, calligraphy, traditional art, foreign art, sculptures and more. It is apparent with the number of museums in Japan, that there is a widespread appreciation for all forms of art in Japan. In fact, the younger generations of Japanese even use their bodies as a medium for art and express their emotions and desires through accessorizing clothing, and more.
These kinds of museums, art museums, and all other kinds, are made accessible for ordinary citizens so they would have wider exposure and appreciation for art. It is also to encourage creativity in the younger generation. It is also a way to teach respect towards others and their craft. Art is a person’s way of expressing their feelings and emotions. It does not always have to have a medium.
For the Japanese, art is pretty much valuable. There is art in the way they dress, the way they design their homes, and more. There is even art in their language seen in the way they talk and write. Art is everywhere in Japan and the most common subject would be nature.
The Miho museum is one of the places in the world that shows that it is possible to build and create without creating harm to the environment. It is a manifestation that art and nature are truly intertwined. With the number of displays and exhibits inside, it is also a great way to appreciate how much the world has changed and how much the world has stayed the same.
Miho Museum Japan Guide
What is the Miho Museum in Koka Japan?
The Miho Museum is an art museum located in Koka, Japan. What is interesting about the entire museum is the fact that majority of the displays and pieces came from the personal collection of a wealthy and famous woman named Mihoko Koyama. Being the major sponsor of the museum, the place was eventually named after her. She is the founder of Shinji Shumeikai (or Shumei) movement – a search and yearning for beauty through the appreciation of both art and nature.
Where is the Miho Museum Japan?
The Miho museum is located in the town of Shigaraki, in the Shiga prefecture of Japan. It is a part of the Kyoto region and is located a bit far from the city center. In fact, it is located in the middle of a deep forest – intentionally and metaphorically.
Sometimes, people do not really take time to appreciate nature and art. The Miho Museum is one way to intertwine the beauty of these two aspects of a person’s life. The building stands in the middle of a deep forest in the Shigaraki Mountains of Tokyo. It is designed in such a way that more than half of the entire structure is located below ground. The designer had done so to ensure that constructing a large structure in the middle of the forest will not create any significant imbalance to the surroundings. They wanted to keep the mountains un-moved and unaffected – perfectly preserved from all the human tampering that had happened during construction.
On top of that, the zen and peacefulness of the surroundings add to the magic of appreciating art and the surroundings. It gives a certain kind of serenity and peace for visitors, giving them a chance to relax and unwind from their busy urban lifestyles.
It is said that the structure itself had been inspired by a Peach Blossom Valley of Guangnan County, in Yunnan Province of China. This village does not have any highways, no modernization, no electricity – nothing. People live so simply and remotely that their houses are built to adjust to the surroundings instead of the other way around. It is said according to records that the inhabitants of this village literally lives at a mouth of a cave, using a portion of the cave as a shelter. They make temporary homes made to adjust to the trees and the rocks, instead of removing the trees and the rocks to make space for a home.
What to do inside the Miho Museum?
There are about 1,000 pieces of ancient and modern artwork in the collection. It is a personal collection of Ms. Koyama which she had acquired impressively in less than ten years. These are artwork that did not just originate from Japan, some of these are from ancient Europe and Asia. There are sculptures of Buddha in the collection which have originated from China, there are tea ceremony pieces which were from the Imperial period.
Other than the art pieces, a lot of people do enjoy going to the Miho Museum for the architecture itself. Some go to this place for the surroundings and the landscape.
Access to the Miho Museum in Koka, Shiga Prefecture, Japan
There are different ways of getting to the Miho Museum in Japan. One way is via the railway lines. People can take the JR Tokaido Line to the Ishiyama Station, costing about 240 yen for 15 minutes of travel. However, there are no train stations which directly stops at the museum. The good thing is that there are bus terminals right next to the stations that will take passengers directly to the museum. The bus to Miho Museum would be the Teisan 150 bus. It usually takes about an hour to travel to the museum from the station and the total fare is about 800 yen.
For those who will be traveling to the museum right from the center of the city, there is no available public transport going to the museum. The best option would be to hire a car rental service.
Admission and fees in Miho Museum in Japan
The Miho museum does not have a specific schedule. They are usually closed depending on the need to change an exhibit. There are times when the museum is closed for long periods of time, while there are instances when it is closed only for a few days. It is best to call ahead before visiting the museum to check if they will be opened on a specific date.
The cost for admission would be about 1,000 yen. This already covers all entries to the permanent exhibits of the museum. However, there are chances that additional charges will be required for special exhibitions.
The Architecture of the Miho Museum Building by I.M Pei
What is interesting about the architect, I.M. Pei, is that he was also the man who designed the glass pyramid in the famous Louvre in Paris. He designed the Presidential library of John Kennedy in Massachusetts among many other famous structures in the world. He was asked by Ms. Mihoko Koyama herself to construct a “paradise” for her and her collection.
The total structure is built in a gigantic piece of land that totals to 247 acres. The structure is designed with glass, wood, and steel which are all carved and designed to fit into the mountain. There was a great deal of material removed from the mountain which was only placed back because more than 80 percent of the structure is built below ground.
There is a large entryway towards the main hall of the museum. It looks like an opening or a mouth of a cave. There are lighted tunnels that would lead to the main exhibits. The roof is designed to be made of glass and steel so that light will be flowing into the structure naturally. The flooring material, as well as material for the walls, were all imported from different parts of the world.
It is also said that the entire structure is inspired by the Tale of Peach Blossom Spring. It is a story of a small village hidden behind a thick peach grove. This place had been secluded from the world for thousands of years – they know no modernization, know no electricity, or roads. Based on a few interviews, the Miho Museum is Pei’s modern interpretation of this tale.
Famous Works in the Collection
According to its founder and architect, the main inspiration for the creation of the Miho Museum is to create a Shangri-la or a paradise that is hidden in the Himalayas. This is the Japanese interpretation and representation of that thought. There are a great number of famous works available in the collection.
Temporary Exhibitions – North Wing
The temporary exhibitions all depends on the theme of the period. There are times when the exhibits are religious, featuring sculptures and figures of Buddha and other gods. These are collections that came from different parts of Asia and it is not that difficult to see a certain correlation in the religions of the continent.
There are times when it focuses on ancient kitchenware. There are ceremony tea pieces, ceramics, pots, and more. There is a progression in the age and importance of the piece. It is truly enjoyable to visit. There are also times when the theme focuses on culture – displaying paintings, masks, calligraphy, and more.
Permanent Exhibitions – South Wing
There are a great number of pieces from the Egyptian, Roman, and Persian empires from different periods of time. These include clothing, artworks, pots, bowls, plates, armor and more. It is a collection of many different things that change over time. Ms. Koyama has thousands of valuable pieces to her name but only reveals hundreds at a time. There are drinking vessels from the Han dynasty, there are coins from the medieval ages, there are mosaics from early Mesopotamia. It is a wonder how much was spent to complete this kind of collection.
The Oxus treasure consists of less than 200 pieces of intricate metal work which are made from precious metals like gold and silver. These are from the Persian empire and shows how wealthy they must have been during the time. It also shows how advanced they are in creating jewelry and other treasure.
It was discovered in the Oxus River but up until today the origins and age of these articles remain unknown. Significant leads have been published on the news but they still remain cold. There are sculptures made from gold, plaques which might have been sewn into clothing and armor. There are coins as well showing the interesting traditions and cultures of the land. There are only a few articles of this valuable treasure left and Ms. Koyama got a hold of some of them.
When to visit Miho Museum?
For those who wish to appreciate nature, it is best to visit during the months of spring starting March until May. It is during this time that the surroundings have a bounty of flowers and fruits. The reserve for which the structure was built will truly seem like paradise.
During the rainy months, it is the time when there are not that many visitors. Since there is no available public transport to the area, going to the Miho Museum during the rainy season is not easy. Appreciating nature during the autumn months is also a good idea because the changing colors of fall are enjoyable to watch.
When visiting the museum, it is best to book a room somewhere near from museum. Ask the reception for a guide or instructions about the way to the building itself. It is quite safe even at night but finding a ride back to the city will be difficult at this time.
Despite how difficult it is to find a ride going to this secluded museum and it might be a bit expensive, but it's worth to visit. It is a truly enriching experience that will teach anyone how to appreciate nature and art.