Japanese Art Museums

Nine years ago, I was invited by the Japan Foundation to visit, at my request, smaller art museums outside Tokyo, as I had been very impressed by a visit in 1994 to the Koriyama City Museum of Art, designed by Takahiko Yanagisawa. But I found it very hard to find out about them, other than Kengo Kuma’s very beautiful Bato Hiroshige Museum of Art in Nakagawa, north of Tokyo, pictures of which I had seen as part of his entry to the competition for the Hepworth Wakefield Museum, and SANAA’s Museum of the Twenty First Century in Kanazawa, which had, rightly, a great deal of publicity in the west for its very lightweight use of interlinked glass pavilions. So, I was both pleased and faintly depressed to be sent a small booklet recently published by the Japanese Tourism Organisation, called Japan: Traveling through Art, Design and Architecture, which includes not just the Museum of the Twenty First Century and the Miho Museum, designed by I.M. Pei up in the mountains near Kyoto, which one can’t visit in the winter months, but a host of museums, small and large, many designed by major international architects, from the Aomori Museum of Art, designed by Jun Aoki, in the north to the Kirisima Open-Air Museum, designed by Kunihiko Hayakawa, in the south: hundreds of new museums which I would now like to visit, but probably can’t; and it doesn’t even include Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Enoura Observatory, which opens this autumn.

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