I wrote elsewhere this month about where to look for live music in Hiroshima. Now let’s talk a little about the visual arts. Again, if you count galleries and exhibitions in coffee shops and other venues, the possibilities immediately expand to fill more time than you probably have. For the moment, then, let’s talk about conventional museums in and around the city.
HPAM is located north of the downtown shopping center, adjacent to Shukkeien Garden. Downstairs, there are a number of public gallery spaces available for exhibitions. Calligraphers, textile artists, student shows and even English-language kagura are all on offer here at different times. The main floor has a restaurant and gift shop, as well as an excellent art library for browsing on rainy days. The museum’s permanent collection is on the second floor and is well worth a visit. Go more than once, in fact, because even if the main pieces on display don’t change over time, you will. On the third floor, traveling exhibits are shown. These vary wildly both in kind and appeal, but if you keep an eye on the schedule you’ll be pleasantly surprised at various points throughout the year. From April 13, the featured exhibit will include works by the late woodblock printmaker and painter Utagawa Kuniyoshi. This is a good place to bring kids, and if they start to get bored, you can exit through a back door on the main floor directly into Shukkeien Garden to feed the carp and stroll through the trees along the river.
Founded in 1978, this private art museum is just north of the Rihga Royal Hotel. The focus here is on 19th and 20th-century European masters, as well as modern Japanese paintings done in a “Western” style. The space is lovely, surrounded by trees with wide doors leading into the eight curving galleries within. If you’re in the mood for a van Gogh or Gaugin, a Matisse or Modigliani, this is the place to go. There are less frequent traveling shows here as well, and the Japanese galleries are an excellent introduction to the impact of European painting on Japanese artists in the first half of the 20th century. From April 20, the museum will host a traveling exhibit showcasing the work of the beloved children’s book illustrator Leo Lionni. It should be good. The museum also offers concerts and gallery talks, all kept updated on the museum’s website, but unfortunately only in Japanese.
Located atop Hijiyama Mountain just east of downtown (where Peace Boulevard crosses the river and enters twinned tunnels), the museum of contemporary art has never been a favorite of mine, but some people love it. The emphasis here is on the word “contemporary.” A current video exhibition, for example, features a five and a half minute movie of objects including a mattress, a life preserver and a toy shovel that swing about on wires as a garage door is opened and closed. More conventional are some of the sculptures and paintings in the permanent collection, including works from Henry Moore, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol, among others. Until May 26, a special exhibit called “The Seven Lamps of the Art Museum” celebrates the museum’s 30th anniversary by using a series of key words to explore the role and activities of the art museum.
The three museums mentioned above are all located Hiroshima city itself. But if you haven’t had your fill yet, two day trips will bring you to two excellent museums farther afield. The Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane Prefecture is famous nationwide both for its collection and the gardens (shown in the photo above) that surround the main building, visible from inside through a series of windows that are billed as “living paintings.” Other works on hand include first-rate Japanese paintings by artists like Yokoyama Taikan, who helped pioneer the “Nihonga” style of painting, and Uemura Shoen, the first female recipient of the Order of Culture award. With more than 1500 works of art in its collection, and a winner of three stars (the highest rating possible) from the Michelin Green Guide, the Adachi draws visitors from around the globe.
In Okayama Prefecture’s Kurashiki city, the Ohara Museum of Art is Japan’s oldest museum devoted primarily to Western art. Founded in 1930, the museum’s core collection was built on pieces brought back to Japan by Kojima Torajiro, a painter who was sent to Europe on at least three occasions to purchase works for the private collection of a Kurashiki businessman and art lover. Today, the museum has expanded its focus to include works from the influential “Mingei” folk art movement of the 1920s and 30s, as well as more contemporary pieces from both Japanese and overseas artists. Located in a particularly lovely building nestled at the heart of Kurashiki’s photogenic Bikan district of narrow streets and canals, the Ohara is a terrific destination for art lovers traveling with those who may be less enthusiastic about giving an entire day to a museum.
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum
Address: 2-22 Kaminoboricho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima, 730-0014
Access: From the downtown corner of Chuo-dori and Aoi Dori, where Fukuya Department Store is located, walk north for about eight minutes. Alternately, you can cross the street and step onto the Hakushima Streetcar line going north. Get off at Shukkeien-mae station.
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00, open until 20:00 on Fridays. Closed Mondays and unspecified dates at the year’s end and New Year.
Admission: Permanent Collection: Adults, 510 JPY. College, 310 JPY. High School and below, free. Special exhibits: Varies by exhibit, but a special ticket also gives access to the permanent collection.
Website: English website here: http://www.hpam.jp/english/
Hiroshima Museum of Art
Address: 3-2 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima, 730-0011
Access: Just north of the Rihga Royal Hotel downtown, or two blocks north of Sogo Department Store.
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00. Closed Mondays and December 29 to January 2.
Admission: Adults, 1300 JPY. High School, 1000 JPY. Junior High and below, 600 JPY.
Website: English website here: http://www.hiroshima-museum.jp/en/
Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
Address: 1-1 Hijiyamakoen, Minami-ku, Hiroshima, 732-0815
Access: The museum is in Hijiyama Park, on top of Hijiyama Mountain at the east end of Peace Boulevard. Easiest access on foot is to pass through the tunnels. Just beyond the east tunnel entrance, an escalator carries you directly to the summit. You can also drive to the top. When you cross the bridge, turn left immediately before entering the tunnels. Take your first right, just past Zenkyoji Temple, and a narrow road leads to the summit.
Hours: 10 to 17:00. Closed Mondays and December 27 to January 1.
Admission: Permanent collection: Adults, 300 JPY. University 200 JPY. High School 150 JPY. Junior High and Below free. Special Exhibits: Varies by exhibit. Current Special Exhibit: Adults, 1200 JPY. University 900 JPY. High School 600 JPY. Junior High and Below free.
Website: English website here: https://www.hiroshima-moca.jp/en/
Adachi Museum of Art
Address: 320 Furukawa-cho, Yasugi, Shimane, 692-0064
Access: About 2 hours and 50 minutes by car, almost entirely on the Expressways. Map and directions available on the website below.
Hours: Open 7 days a week. April to September: 9:00-17:30. October to March: 9:00 to 17:00. The Museum will be closed on April 10, 2019.
Admission: Adults 2300 JPY, University 1800 JPY, High School 1000 JPY, Junior High and below 500 JPY.
Additional Info: English Audio Guides available for 500 JPY. All major credit cards accepted.
Website: Excellent English website located here: https://www.adachi-museum.or.jp/en/
Ohara Museum of Art
Address: 1-1-15 Chuo, Kurashiki, Okayama, 710-8575
Access: From Hiroshima Station, take the Sanyo Shinkansen to Shin Kurashiki Station, then transfer to the Sanyo Line for Kurashiki Station. From there, the museum is a 15 minute walk. You can also travel by car, on the Sanyo Expressway, getting off at the Kurashiki Interchange. By car, it should take about two and a half hours.
Hours: 9:00-17:00, closed Mondays and from December 28 to 31.
Admission: Adults 1300 JPY, College Students 800 JPY, High School and Younger 500 JPY
Website: Especially good, including a virtual gallery: http://www.ohara.or.jp/en/