Japan Part III - Museums

We had the opportunity to visit several museums in Tokyo and Kyoto during our visit.  The first was the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo.  It is housed in a lovely traditional building in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  
The museum was showing a special exhibit of the works of Shiko Munakata and Soetsu Yanagi.  Munakata was a wood block artist, active during the Showa Period in Japan.  The work on display was mostly created after WWII.  It was an interesting blend of elegant traditional Japanese painting and mid-century modern design.  No pictures were allowed in the museum, but I photographed the poster showing one of his wood blocks:
Yanagi is credited as the founder of the folk craft movement in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s.  He collected a great deal of folk art and was the founder of the Folk Craft museum in 1936.  And he mentored Munakata.

It is a lovely building in an interesting neighborhood.  Well worth a visit if you are in Tokyo.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was a visit to the Itchiku Kubota Museum on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi, in Kawaguchi-ko at the foot of Mount Fuji.  In 2009, I saw an exhibition called "Symphony of Light" at the Canton Museum of Art in Canton, Ohio.  It was an amazing exhibit -- thirty-six kimonos arranged in a circle depicting the changing of the seasons, together creating a subtly changing landscape from winter through spring, summer, autumn and back to winter.  The artist was Itchiku Kubota, who is best known for reviving the art of fabric dyeing called tsujigahana (literally "flowers at the crossroads").  The technique was common in the 15th century, but it was horribly difficult and it had been lost.

I was very excited to be able to see more of his work.  And I wasn't disappointed.

The museum had a fabulous of view of Mount Fuji across Lake Kawaguchi:
The signpost and front gate:
Our guide told us that Kubota designed the museum buildings.  They are very modern, but somehow fit in with the landscape.  Here is the path leading to the front door:
The main entrance to the museum:
The main building viewed from the exhibition hall:
I loved the tea room in the back of the exhibition building.  It was originally Kubota's studio, and now is a tea room with a delightful view of a water fall:
The kimonos on display were from his "Blossoms" series.  I was very excited -- I hadn't seen them before.  No pictures were allowed in the exhibition hall, so this is from the pamphlet:
The "Symphony of Light" will be shown at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York, this summer. Click here for more information.

In Kyoto, we visited the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, which according to its website showcases all 74 of the traditional Kyoto craft industries.  A very tall order!
It was a lovely day, and Natalie and I walked there after a workshop at the Kyoto Handicraft Center.  We were a bit late in the day, so we missed the demonstrations of shibori folding and kimono stitching, but we did get to see the exhibits.  And to shop in the extensive museum store.
In Kyoto we also visited the Nishijin Textile Center.  We walked through the small museum, watched  artisans demonstrating weaving, sewing and hand embroidery and browsed the (again) extensive gift shop. 
The highlight of a visit to the Textile Center is the Kimono Show.  It was pretty fabulous:
Coming Next:  Focus on food and culture.


Jaye Dodds said…
Love your pictures!!!! What a fabulous trip!
Norma Schlager said…
The Kabuta museum was one of the highlights of my trip. They only gave us an hour there, I could have spent all day. I did buy the big heavy book and take it out once in awhile. I am from originally from Utica and told my cousin to be sure to see this exhibit.
Thanks for the tour and the memories.