MIHO MUSEUM is one of the must-visit museums in Japan if you are an architecture and art lover. After a while, you drive up among the mountains in Shigaraki area of Shiga prefecture, MIHO MUSEUM suddenly makes an appearance.
The concept of the museum is a real-world Shangri-la, and you will find that the word is true the instant you reach the place.
MIHO MUSEUM opened in 1997 and has been recognized worldwide when the world-famous luxury label, LOUIS VUITTON chose the place for their cruise fashion show in 2018.
There is no other museum in Japan that has been chosen as a stage for a world-famous label’s fashion show. The dynamic architecture of the museum and the beautiful nature of Shigaraki surrounding it obviously made LOUIS VUITTON fell in love with.
When you arrive at the museum, you may notice immediately that there are more foreign tourists than local Japanese although you are at a remote place for tourists. Many of them come to the museum to enjoy the architecture by the world-famous designer, I.M.Pei, best known for the iconic Pyramide du Louvre of Louvre museum in Paris.
As the concept of the museum, a real-world Shangri-la, the museum is built in harmony with the surrounding nature. In fact, 80% of the museum is built underground to protect the environment as much as possible.
After you step out of your car, you see a big tunnel on the other side of the museum ticket office and restaurant. That tunnel leads you to MIHO MUSEUM. When you come out the other end of the tunnel after 10 minutes walk, a beautiful landscape spreads out before your eyes. You will see a graceful bridge spanning and the entrance of the museum at the far side of the bridge. It’s like you came to another world, yes, Shangri-la.
The nature of Shigaraki which changes in season is also a part of the architecture, so every time you visit, you can find something new. (Except for winter, the museum is closed during winter due to the heavy weather of the area. Check out their website before you visit.)
You can get the whole information about the architecture and the designer here.
More than 3,000 of the museum collection is also another entertainment. The founder of the museum, Mihoko Koyama collected over 40 years arts including Japanese arts such as tea ceremony utensils, Shinto/Buddist arts, calligraphy, lacquerware, etc. For chanoyu lover (tea ceremony), here you get to see the famous tea bowl “YŌHEN-TENMOKU”, designated as a nationally important cultural property. Not all the collection is on display for a year, so it may be better to contact them beforehand if you are going to the museum for a particular art. No worries, some staffs at MIHO MUSEUM are fluent in multi-languages.
See their collection here.
Their exhibition is also something you may be very interested in since they hold a very unique exhibition which other museums don’t pay attention to. For example, last year they hold an exhibition which featured only “tea scoop” using for Chanoyu (tea ceremony). They have gathered a hundred tea scoop made by 30 famous people in history.
I am a chanoyu lover but had never seen such many tea scoops at once! Tea scoops are usually made of bamboo and I had thought every tea scoop look alike, however, looking close many of tea scoops at the same time, I found all the tea scoop are actually quite different, its shape, thickness, color, black-spot, scratch and so on. It was very interesting to see all the tea soops as understanding when in history and how the person made it. It was as if you went back in time and actually seeing him making the tea scoop.
For the people who are hungry and looking for a place to take a break, the museum prepares a restaurant ” Peach Valley” and a cafe “Pine View” which provides the original ingredients made with free of any additives. Those ingredients are made by the Shumei Natural Agriculture approach. They actually grow ingredients such as wheat, azuki beans, vegetables, etc using an approach of natural cultivation.
Both of “Peach Valley” and “Pine View” are always busy so you may want to schedule well especially if you want to dine in the restaurants. You get to choose from a wide variety of menu including Japanese cuisines, such as rice-ball, buckwheat noodle.
If you are okay with just sitting at any of the benches in the museum area or in your car, you can buy their original bread to-go at the counter right next to the museum ticket office. It’s so good. I totally recommend. They use wheat which is cultivated in Canada contains no agrochemicals or fertilizers for the bread.
You may want to buy the bread before going to the adventure of the museum since their to-go bread is very popular, they can be sold out by the time you are back. I really like the restaurant bread but their coffee…not so much. (I say it’s quite average.)
For the information of “Peach Valley” and “Pine View”, clike here.
Although the museum seems to be at kind of distant place because of its location, in the deep forest of Shiga, you can access it using public transportation. You can find information about transportation to the museum here.
Also, CLICK HERE to check MIHO MUSEUM official website.