Sunday, July 17, 2011

Japan - In Search of a Folk Artist (Part 3) - The Museum Itself

The third part of my tale of Munakata Shiko is about his memorial museum. The museum opened in 1975 three years after Munakata's death. The building is in the Azekura style. The oldest surviving structure of this style in Japan is the wooden Shosoin treasure house (AD 756) at the Eastern Great Buddhist Temple (Todai-ji) in Nara. Basically the gallery part of the museum is a log cabin which sits on pillars. The Munakata Museum's pillars are made of steel reinforced concrete.

Notice in the above and below photos how the walls are stacked beams (steel reinforced concrete again) whose ends overlap at the edges of the building. Upright supports aren't necessary in this style of building. My first reaction to the building was that it looks like an interesting fortress.

Another view of the log cabin edge of the of the museum's gallery.

A closer view of the statue of a woman in front of the museum. There's a lovely pond and garden in front of and along the walkway from the street to the museum.

From the museum's website. A winter view of the statue. Do you think she's cold standing there in the snow.

Closer view of the front of the museum.

Looking up from under the eaves.

Looking in the window at a photo of Shiko Munakata.

Attention to the details add to the overall impression of the building as a well designed museum.

A larger rendition of the same design at the entrance to the museum.

A structure in the garden. The light was interesting the day we visited as it was overcast and dark when we arrived then the sun appeared as I took the above photo. Weird light.

Another view of the pond.

The director, Mr Hiro, and the staff of the museum were so helpful and made our visit very special. Mr Hiro, who speaks excellent English, explained many things about the museum and Munakata's work to us. We also spoke with one of his staff who is learning English (doing very well) and she was kind enough to call ahead to a restaurant where we ate a delicious dinner. I like that the size of this museum is big enough to show a range of Munakata's work yet small enough that the viewer can appreciate each work of art and not be overwhelmed.

Two ladies leaving in the rain. An hour or so later sleet was coming down as we left. The director was kind enough to have one of his staff call a taxi for us.

ItalicPhotos from the museum's website. Above: Winter at the museum. Below: Spring at the museum.

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