A hidden mountain paradise where nature, art, and architecture come together for you to slow down and admire ancient treasures from near and far.
The journey into Shigaraki’s own “Shangri-la”, begins soon after you start driving up the swirling road that leads to the reception pavilion of the museum grounds. Visitors get ready here to either walked up or ride the electric mini shuttle buses to the main exhibition halls deep in the mountains. You will need to travel through a futuristic tunnel that for a moment feels like stepping into the abyss, although the connection with nature is never lost as the
cherry trees are spot on at one end of the tunnel and the museum’s main building adorned
with greenery at the other end. The tunnel with the cherry blossoms at the end is one of the main locations for cherry blossoms viewing during the month of April. The journey goes on.
Miho Museum’s main building
As the tunnel comes to an end Miho Museum’s main building reveals itself. This is the dreamchild of Mihoko Koyama a vivid art collector, among other things, who commissioned Chinese-American architect, I.M. Pei to built this architectural jewel. Pei drew inspiration from the chinese fable, “The Peach Blossom Spring”, that tells the story of a fisherman who rode his boat into a hidden valley, and was bewildered by the mystic land he found and the ancient people who inhabited . Mihoko wished visitors could entered the museum in the same fashion and be equally blown away by the harmony of the building’s design with the
contour of the landscape. The passage through the tunnel and over the bridge achieve just that giving you the mystical feeling of a newfound paradise.
The architecture of the museum building greets visitors across the bridge. Only a fraction of the building is seen from outside since the large part of the structure is hidden inside the rock; in part due to strict government regulation, in part to match the silhouette of the landscape and reduce the impact to the protected area. Inside, the mountain views through large metal and glass windows dominate the experience. In the horizon you can see not
only endless nature but also another one of Pei’s masterpieces, the bell tower at the
opposing Shinji Shumekai temple, which when rung, can be heard all the way across the mountains. On sunny days, the halls are filled with light guiding you through the halls and to the ancient antique pieces from Egypt, Asia, and Japan.
buddha from Pakistan
In the south wing the main objects to see are a roman floor mosaic from 3rd-4th century A.D, a Sanguszko medallion animal carpet, the statue of Arsinoe the II from Egypt, and a larger-than-life size standing buddha from Pakistan, one of the only two sculptures of this kind remaining in the world. The north wing is reserved for an on going exhibition of Japanese glass masterpieces and a diverse collection of Edo-era artifacts. All of the exhibition rooms are windowless, giving the feeling that you are walking into caves, which in a way it is the case as this section of the museum is literally buried under the mountain rock. The theme here is consistent: nature, art, and architecture together as one.
The north wing
To make an extended stay at the Miho Museum, you can plan for lunch at the Pine View tea room on the south wing or at the Peach Valley restaurant in the reception pavilion. All the fruits and vegetables on the menu are grown organically and maintain the same connection with the environment as the rest of the museum. Miho Museum can be access conveniently via a 13-minute train ride from JR Kyoto station to JR Ishiyama Station, and a 50-minute bus ride from JR Ishiyama Station on the Teisan Bus Line.
NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR