Tuesday, September 25, 2007

43. Museum Review: Okura Shukokan Museum (Minato-ku)

Kihachiro Okura, a collector of Buddhist artwork established the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts to hold and display his treasures. Kihachiro was a weapons dealer in the mid-1800's. He later founded the Okura zaibatsu, and the Tokyo University of Economics. He was also one of the main investors for the original Imperial Hotel. His son, Kishichiro Okura, was the president of the hotel during the 1920's and 30's. Kishichiro also developed the Okura hotel chain, and he collected many 'Nihonga' (modern Japanese painting), which were added to the museum collection.
Opening in 1917 as Japan's first private art museum, the Okura Shukokan houses over 2,000 works of art. Built on land that was formerly the Tokyo residence of the Matsudaira feudal lord of Naebashi, the building itself was designed by Chuta Ito and is a nationally registered cultural property.

Although I find the building itself absolutely beautiful, I think 800 yen is too much to charge for an exhibition of this size. The museum has two floors, and each floor is a large room with art around the edges. The exhibition I visited was called "Longing for Asia", and it included many Buddhist statues, a few Chinese paintings, and a selection of pottery. Although I'm sure the items are historically significant, I didn't find the exhibit that interesting.

Fortunately, I didn't have to pay the entrance fee as this museum is free with the Grutt Pass. I would definitely recommend visiting the museum if you have the pass. Perhaps a future exhibition will be more interesting (the next one focuses on hanging scrolls), and the building is definitely worth taking a look at.

There is also a path that runs around the museum. Large sculptures, lanterns, Buddhist statues,... are on display and it is not necessary to pay in order to view them. Guests of the Okura Hotel, which is right in front of the museum, can visit the museum for free.

Address: 2-10-3 Toranomon, Minato-ku
Phone: 03-3583-0781

Hours of Operation: 10:00 - 16:30 (last entry at 16:00)

Closed on Mondays (except when Monday is a national holiday, then it is closed the next day) and for the New Year's holidays.

Admission: Free for hotel guests
Prices vary depending on the exhibition.
Currently (Sept. 07): Adults: 800 yen. College & High School students & those over 65: 500yen.
Junior school students & younger - free


**Free with the Grutt Pass 2007 (#28).

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