"+Miho Museum" Kyoto-fu Travelogue by j-san
Kyoto-fu Travel Guide: 2,047 reviews and 6,677 photos
The Miho Museum is located in the Shigaraki highlands, south-east of Kyoto and was designed by the world renowned architect I.M.Pei (the same man who designed the Louvre's Pyramid). Getting to the museum is difficult and time consuming, this is deliberate - in order to give the sensation of a pilgrimage!
Once at the site you make your way up a cherry tree-lined path, through a tunnel and over a bridge, before you get to the museum itself. The way unfolds itself mysteriously at every step... Once in the museum 80 percent of the building is in fact underground! The foyer has probably the most breathtaking aspect, with the window designed to resemble a Japanese folding screen. The view acting as the screen painting.
The museum houses a collection begun by the Shuhei family over 40 years ago. The goal of the museum is to celebrate the highest artistic achievements through the ages and "the potential of the human spirit".
Ceramics, mosaics, statues, glass etc. are the main items displayed and represent works from the ancient civilizations of Egypt, West Asia, Greece, Rome, South Asia, China and Japan. There is always a special exhibition. This autumn it was statues from the Longmen Caves in China.
I have been to the Miho Museum twice now: spring and autumn.
The two best seasons, as you get to enjoy the cherry blossoms and maple leaves respectively. These photos are from both seasons.
<center>Once inside you will need to show your ticket.</center>
The staff seem to speak little or no English BUT at the counter you can get excellent pamphlets in wonderful PERFECT English, as well as headsets with a recorded guided-tour, in native-speaker English to most of the items on display, that you can carry around with you! I did this and got so much more out of my visit. Many of the narrators are world experts in their fields eg. Egyptology etc.!
<center> Can you see how the lower windows frame the view as if the whole were a Japanese folding screen?</center>
<center>The light is constantly changing as the sun and clouds change position and are filtered throught the glass and beam roof. Here you can enjoy beautiful views...</center>
As you may have noticed I have said nothing so far about the objects on display. That is because much of what the Miho museum is about, is the acoustics, the light, the spaces, the views...
The displays are seperated geographically, not chronologically. The walls are a deep red and the lighting soft. At the entrance of each room are pamphlets in English and Japanese, as well as a very ALERT attendant. You are not permitted to photograph anything on display.
My friend works at the museum and she got permission for me to take one photo (with my digi-camera sans flash!) of my favorite piece in the museum.
When I first walked into the room and saw this giant (7ft tall) Buddha, I was totally mesmerized! The statue is from the 2nd Century AD, Pakistan.
I felt very calmed and happy to look at the face, the statue seemed 'kind'. I couldn't get the face out of my mind and I told my friend who works there. She said that that is very interesting, as there is a story about this statue: the reaction you have to it shows YOUR nature! Rather nice I thought!! :)
All the food right down to the oil, salt and sugar are organically grown/produced. The taste is really something else! I recommend the soba noodle and tempura set. It is not cheap, around 1300 Yen. Drinks are all around the 400 Yen mark. However this was probably the best tempura I have ever eaten (the soba wasn't bad either!)!
This is my friend Yuko who works at the museum. Thanks to her it didn't cost me a yen!! She not only got us free entry passes, but also a 5000 Yen meal coupon!!! That one was put to good use! <i>(soba, tea, cakes, coffee, cookies... :)) )</i>
Over lunch, Yuko told me about a visitor: Martha Stewart came to the museum in September. However following the NY attacks, she found herself stranded in Japan, so she visited the museum twice!!
Going up is actually rather hair-raising! The roads in this area are narrow enough for one car at best and full of blind corners. We had to keep stopping the car and pulling over for trucks, buses and oncoming cars! In that sense I was certainly grateful when we finally got there - a pilgrimage indeed!! :))
You begin by walking up this path. You can also take a little bus, but why would you want to in such glorious weather! This is how it looks in spring, with the cherry blossoms in fool bloom! Absolutely beautiful!!
If you don't have a ticket, you should buy one at this point at the Reception Pavilion, before the cherry tree path. Entry is 1000 Yen for adults, 800 Yen for students.
The path is not so interesting in autumn, looks a little sad actually. However all around the compound, there are red maple leaves instead!
Cherry blossoms here are at their best in mid-April.
The autumn leaves in mid-November.
The museum is also the busiest at these times and so avoid the weekend and get there early!!
After the cherry tree path, you go through this tunnel. The floor is amazingly soft under foot, very nice to walk on, cushioning all echos. The shape of the lights along the walls is meant to represent Japanese paper fans.
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