An I.M. Pei Masterpiece in Western Japan
Designed by I.M. Pei to house the extensive collection of art held by the Shumei family (founder of a Buddhist organization with property and holdings in Shiga, Japan, and Colorado in the US), the Miho Museum, located near Shigaraki, is one of the crown jewels in Japan's art collection.
The grounds of the Miho Museum are in a national park, and it took six years of planning to win permission to begin construction. In particular, a mountain literally had to be moved and then put back to where it originally stood to satisfy local officials. The site, located in the Shigaraki Mountains of Shiga Prefecture some 45 minutes outside of Kyoto, is as much a work of art as that which lies within Pei's exquisite walls.
Pei, the architect of the Phase I and II of the Louvre, as well as the East Wing of the National Gallery, in Washington, DC, said that the Miho Museum is like the old Chinese tale "Peach Blossom Spring." In this story, a fisherman comes upon a fissure in a mountain side by accident - and discovers a hidden paradise lost in time. Hyperbole perhaps, but wait until you arrive.
You go from a pavilion near the bus stop, either on foot or by electric car, through an opening in a mountain. You walk through an eerily silent tunnel, from which you emerge at a suspension bridge on the other side. Crossing that, you angle towards the main building, which looms upon high like a mountain shrine. Within awaits a stunning collection of religious reliquary from the Middle East, Near and Far East.
Works from Egypt, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan (Gandhara), Greece, Pakistan, China, (the Tang, Song, Han, Northern, and Southern Dynasties) Korea, and Japan are represented.
10 am-5 pm (admission until 4 pm)
Adults: 1100 yen
High School/College Students: 800 yen
Elementary/JH Students: 300 yen
Access - getting to Miho Museum
From Kyoto Station, take a Japan Railways Biwako Line local train to Ishiyama Station (13 minutes).
From there catch the Teisan bus to "Miho Bijutsukan." The ride takes about 45 minutes. The museum may be closed due to snow in the winter season.