Miho Museum is nestled in a beautiful forest complex designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, only a short trip away from Kyoto. Located in Shiga Prefecture, Miho Museum is meant to mirror Shangri-La–an earthly paradise described in Chinese poet Tao Yuanming’s poem, “The Tale of the Peach Blossom Spring.” Not only is the Museum itself stunning, the journey there is just as magical.
Miho Museum has three exhibition sessions (Spring, Summer, and Autumn). I visited in Autumn so I saw stunning fall foliage throughout my trip. But since the Museum grounds are full of cherry blossom trees, Spring is a stunning time to visit as well. To visit the museum, you go on a Spirited-Away-like journey: there is a Miho Museum Bus from Ishiyama Station (a short ride from Kyoto Main Station), that takes you on a quiet ride up the mountain where Miho Museum is located.
Directions: Take the JR Tokaido Line from Kyoto Station to Ishiyama Station. Once you exit the JR station, go to the bus stop (1F) and take Teisan Bus 150 (Miho Museum Bus) to the Miho Museum which should be the last stop. The bus will drop you off at the entrance/reception area where you can purchase tickets. From there, you can take a museum shuttle or go by foot to the museum entrance (~10 minutes; highly recommend if you want to take in the beautiful tunnel leading to the Museum).
The Miho Museum was designed by I.M. Pei for Mihoko Koyama, to house her Asian and Western antiquities. The permanent collection is very special. Highlights include the Standing Buddha and the Floor Mosaic depicting Dionysos’s discovery of Ariadne. I was lucky to visit during Autumn 2016, as both the North Wing and South Wing had special exhibitions.
In the South Wing, Miho Museum’s collection of ceramics and paintings by Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743) were on display. Kenzan ware and dishes are just simply stunning. Truly, they demonstrate how plating is a defining feature of Kyoto kaiseki’s identity.
In the North Wing, “Jewels of the Mughal Emperors and Maharajas” was an incredible display of Al Thani Qatari royal family’s collection. Pink Agra diamonds and Diamond Turban Jewel are a few examples of gems in this dazzling collection. The exhibition itself was also fascinating, weaving an eye-opening narrative of how Indian unmounted jewels inspired Cartier’s designs in the 1920’s.
Overall, I was impressed by the stunning collections, architecture, space, and scenery. Miho Museum is an absolutely must visit if you are in the Kyoto area. Don’t let the trip to the museum prevent you from visiting–it’s part of the journey and absolutely worth the experience.
Address // 300, Tashiro Momodani, Shigaraki, Shiga 529-1814 Japan
Website // http://www.miho.or.jp/english/inform/inform.htm
Tel // +81 (0)748-82-3411
Email // firstname.lastname@example.org
*The Miho Museum is only open during Spring, Summer, and Autumn due to weather conditions and exhibition schedule. Check their website for exact opening times. The next exhibition date as I write this post, is March 18th-June 18th, 2017.