Early on our last morning in Tokyo we left the pier and drove south about 90 minutes through Kanagawa Prefecture to The Hakone Open-Air Museum. As its name implies, works by 19th- and 20th-century Japanese and Western artists are displayed outdoors. Sculptures by Picasso, Rodin, Miro and Henry Moore are artfully arranged on the grass-covered grounds, while another 300 or so paintings, glass art and tapestries are housed in several pavilions. The area is well-known for its natural onsen (hot springs) and guests may rest their feet in the warm, fragrant foot bath just outside the museum.
“The museum began operations in 1969 as the first open-air art museum in Japan. Constantly changing with the seasons, the spectacular grounds of the museum are the permanent home for approximately 120 works by well-known modern and contemporary sculptors. There are also five exhibition halls, including the Picasso Pavilion, as well as art pieces that children can play with, and a variety of other facilities where visitors can relax and enjoy the splendor of art in nature.” — The Hakone Open-AirMuseum
“The Picasso Collection is an art gallery devoted to one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. Built in 1984, the gallery presents a wide range of works, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, golden objects, silver compotes, genmail, and tapestries, as well as photographs of the artist’s studio, revealing his vast imagination and giving us a look into his personal life.” — The Hakone Open-Air Museum
“Genmail is a technique used to reproduce works in glass by adjusting the depth of color through overlaid glass fragments. The artist places glass fragments on a light table while looking at the original work. Finally, the glass fragments are fired in a kiln. The works are back lit when displayed, and the brilliance of the light shining through the glass and melting into the color produces a unique clarity and depth.” — The Hakone Open-Air Museum
“In 1994, a dyeing artist, Itchiku Kubota (1917–2003), built the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, Yamanashi, Japan, in a perfect location with a majestic view of Mt. Fuji and the serene Lake Kawaguchi. The museum permanently exhibits Itchiku Tsujigahana-dyed works with the two main themes of ‘trinity of humans, nature and art’ and ‘the center of new culture and art.’ The whole museum, including the garden, buildings and furnishings represents ‘the world of Itchiku Kubota.’
“At the age of 20, Itchiku Kubota encountered a ‘Tsujigahana-dyeing’ slip made in the Muromachi period [approximately 1336 to 1573, marking the governance of the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate] at the Tokyo National Museum. He was fascinated by its beauty and devoted himself to reproduce the technique in the modern world. After returning from imprisonment in Siberia [he was captured by the Russians in World War II], Itchiku started to create his own ‘Tsujigahana’ at the age of 40. After twenty years of perseverance, he produced a piece and named it ‘Itchiku Tsujigahana’ when he was 60. Since his first exhibition in 1977, many exhibitions have been held all over the world. He was awarded the ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Letters’ in 1990, and the ‘Cultural Merit Award’ from the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1993. His achievement is acclaimed worldwide. Itchiku Kubota passed away on April 26, 2003 at the age of 85.
“Tsujigahana-Dyeing is a pattern dyeing style that flourished in the Muromachi period. It started with the kimono of commoners, and later became popular among the aristocrats, but disappeared early in the Edo period. There are some theories for is disappearance, but the dominant one is the appearance of Yuzen, which allowed for more free expression.
“The ‘Symphony of Light’ is the lifework of Itchiku and our final goal is to integrate 80 works representing nature’s ‘four seasons’ and his own ‘universe.’ Currently 46 works, including fall, winter, and several works of the universe, have been completed.” — Itchiku Kubota Art Museum Brochure