- 241 Fans
Architect I.M. Pei created his version in the mountains of Shigaraki about an hour outside of Kyoto. Opened in 1997, the museum was commissioned by the controversial heiress Mihoko Koyama and her daughter Hiroko to house her private collection of Asian and Western art and antiquities. Mihoko Koyama was the founder of the new religion movement Shinji Shumeikai, which is widely regarded as a cult group. From the museum, visitors can see the headquarters of the group and a bell tower, also designed by I.M. Pei in 1989. I am surprised by Mr Pei's decision to work for a suspected cult leader, but I guess nothing is quite black or white in our complex world.
Perhaps Mr Pei was impressed by the site, which is located in a stunning nature reserve. There were many challenges that Mr Pei had to overcome, and one of them was to create harmony between the building and its surrounding environment and topography. And he succeeded this by burying eighty percent of the museum beneath the surface of the mountain. The museum itself is reachable through a tunnel and a suspected bridge, and the sight of the cherry trees is spectacular during the cherry blossom season. It is no wonder that so many tourists would make their way out of Kyoto to visit this museum. The museum collection is not huge, but it is remarkable and fascinating. Best of all, it is complemented by the equally impressive architecture that emphasises on natural lighting and geometric forms - elements that is often seen in Mr Pei's works. I think the elegant and understated style resonates with the traditional Japanese aesthetics.
Sergey Makhno | Viter House