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NewsJapan • 2012-10-28

Select the country and object's type MIHO MUSEUM

The Beginnings of the Miho

Mrs. Mihoko Koyama (known as Kaishusama, the first President and spiritual leader of Shinji Shumeikai, or Shumei) grew up in a household where art was deeply appreciated and her love of artistic expression was nurtured. Later, as a young woman she attended the Freedom School in Tokyo, an innovative institution where the spirit of Christianity guided the approach to teaching. There, a sense of independence and cooperation were fostered in the students, qualities essential to being able to make a genuine contribution to society. In 1941, Mrs. Koyama met the spiritual philosopher, Mokichi Okada, known as Meishusama, and chose to devote her life to implementing his teachings. Through him she found the avenue that she had so long sought, one by which she could both contribute to society and express her passion for art. Mr. Okada wrote, “The role of art is surely to heighten people\'s emotions, to enrich their lives and to give meaning and enjoyment to their existence.” He also believed, “People should advance beauty in the environment and increase their appreciation of beauty for it is sure to have the effect of beautifying the hearts of people who live in it.”

Mrs. Koyama began collecting Japanese tea ceremony objects about forty years ago, choosing not only exceptional examples of their kind, but also objects that seemed to have that rare ability to touch and warm people\'s hearts.

In 1970, she started a new fellowship organization and named it Shinji Shumeikai, (meaning Divine Light Organization), or informally known as Shumei. Respect for creation and nature are of its most important values. Out of this thought follows that beauty inspires the heart and soul.

In the 1980s, Mrs. Koyama and her daughter decided to make the holdings available to the public, and in 1993, they donated the holdings to the non-profit Shumei Cultural Foundation which was chaired by her daughter Ms. Hiroko Koyama.

“We originally wanted to build a memorial gallery to share our Japanese collection with the public”, commented Ms. Koyama. “We were fortunate in having had Dr. I. M. Pei, the world-famous architect design the Bell Tower at the Shinji Shumeikai International Center in Misono, Japan. …we were so delighted with his work that we asked him to design the memorial gallery. He had one reservation. He told us, “The museum as a shell is important, but the contents should be international.”

Ms. Hiroko Koyama, Dr. I. M. Pei, and Mrs. Mihoko Koyama

It was then that Shumei began to expand the collection to include Western antiquities. Almost immediately, they had the good fortune of acquiring the larger-than-life-size standing Gandhara Buddha and the Garden Scene fresco from Pompeii. These two acquisitions became the cornerstone of their international collection. Following were pieces collected from ancient China through the Tang dynasty, the ancient Middle East and Egypt. Ms. Koyama states, “Just as in the tea ceremony, each object that we acquired for its beauty and brilliance of execution edified the daily lives of people… It is our hope that your visit to our museum will be one that delights and inspires you. Everything has been done to ensure this – from the choice of the site in the majestic Shigaraki Mountains, the approach by way of tunnel and bridge, the stunning architectural design and the gracious welcome you will receive, to the choice of art objects and their presentation.

Main Objects

Standing Buddha

Pakistan, Gandhara

Second half of the 2nd century A.D

Height: 250.0cm

Although many works of this type are known, this sculpture is, together with one currently in the Peshawar Museum, the largest known to have survived. Although lacking its original nimbus, the piece is carved in a realist style typical of Gandhara. The right hand, now missing, was most probably raised in the abhayamudra sign, an indication to the faithful that they need not have fear. The left arm is slightly bent and the hand holds the garment in a posture undoubtedly derived from Greco-Roman tradition. With large shoulders and a comparatively small head, this representation of Buddha has an imposing presence, especially when viewed from the front. The side view shows less bulk, another feature which is frequent in Gandhara sculptures. The carving of the hair and the clothing, together with the lack of severity in the facial expression, identify this work as dating from a period slightly after the reign of Kaniska I, which is to say the apogee of the art of Gandhara. Beyond art historical considerations, this remarkable sculpture dominates all those who come into its presence. It is imbued with a spiritual presence which is evident to all those who take the time to look carefully at it. The specifically Buddhist connotations of this sculpture become secondary as compared to its intemporal human significance.

Cult Figure of a Falcon-headed Deity


Probably early 19th dynasty, ca. 1295~1213 BC

Silver, gold, lapis lazuli, rock crystal and Egyptian blue

Height: 41.9cm Weight: 16.5kg

This cult figure of a falcon-headed deity is one of Egypt\'s most fascinating and well-documented antiquities. Probably dating from the early 19th dynasty, ca. 1295-1213 BC, it was cast in solid silver and originally overlaid with gold, the latter still being visible in places. The facial features and wig are accentuated by inlaid rock crystal and lapis lazuli. The delicately modeled musculature creates a powerful and austere image clearly intended to convey the divine presence of the god Horus. As a cult figure, the statue would have been placed in the inner sanctum of a temple.

The work was first documented after being found in Egypt during World War I and was subsequently displayed in the Cairo shop of Greek art dealer Nicolas Tano. During that time, it was examined by experts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Howard Carter, the celebrated archaeologist who led the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen, noted it in his diary in April 1922. Carter too recognized the importance of the piece. Despite the heavy encrustation, the quality of the silver was evident.

Fresco panels depicting a garden

1st Century AD


Garden scenes were among the most enchanting subjects depicted in Roman wall paintings. These fresco are thought to have been produced by leading campanian workshop active in the Vesvian area and all three panels probably came from the same room or from the back wall of a peristyle enclosing a garden. Narrow bands of reddish brown, white, and golden yellow enclose the scene of each panel, which are drawn in perspective to suggest the frames of windows through which a blossoming garden is viewed. The ides was to visually extend the space that the walls enclose.

※Fragment of the [Frolicking Animals and Figures] Scroll

This fragment comes from first scroll of the four scrolls of the Frolicking Animals and Figure Scrolls in the collection of Kozanji, Kyoto. The various activities of animals – primarily rabbits, monkeys and drawn in nimble black lines, and the humorous forms of these animals are widely known and loved. The subtle rendering of expression n touch, and this superb work is characterized by a design power based on a keen understanding of animal behavior and mature brush skills.

※Yohen Tenmoku Tea Bowl


Song dynasty, 11th to 12th centuries

Jian ware, black glaze

Height: 6.5~6.6cm Foot diameter : 3.9cm

Mouth diameter : 11.8~12.1cm

There are only four great yohen, or spotted, tenmoku tea bowls. The present work’s existence was not widely known until recently and is an example of a rare class of yohen tenmoku. This bowl was produced at the Jian Kilns in China’s Fujien province and is named for the unusually beautiful crystalline patterns that appeared spontaneously on its surface during firing, which differ from the so-called “oil spot” patterns of Jian Ware. Here, distinctive star-bursts of color, unique to yohen tenmoku pottery, appear mainly inside the bowl. Like a crystal, each star-burst displays a prism of color.

※Some Japanese art works may not be on display. It depends on the special exhibitions.


The Miho Museum was a joint Japanese and American project completed by architect I. M. Pei and Kibowkan International, Inc. in August of 1996 on a scenic mountainside in a nature preserve near the town of Shigaraki, Shiga prefecture, Japan.

The museum\'s details reflect the designer\'s innovative endeavor to break new ground, as with the novel appearance of sloped glass walls composed of space frames, the warmth of the materials used, especially the Magny Doré limestone and colored concrete, and the systems for exhibiting and housing works of art under the optimum conditions.

Upon visiting the site on which the museum now stands for the first time, he was moved to declare, \"This is Shangri-La.\" He expressed his own idea by using the Chinese tale “Peach Blossom Valley” to Ms. Mihoko Koyama, the founder of the Miho Museum, and she was immediately in consonance with his idea.

There once lived a fisherman in Eastern China. One day, as he was rowing up a mountain stream, he came across a peach orchard in full bloom. At the end of the orchard, he noticed a ray of light coming from a small cave at the foot of a mountain. Once inside, he found himself on a narrow road, but traveling deeper, a splendid view suddenly opened before him. There was the Shangri-La.

Only after climbing a gently sloping path lined with verdant trees, passing through a tunnel, and crossing a bridge can the Miho Museum be found. The museum is the expression of that moment, the moment that the museum suddenly comes into your eyes. It is just like a script.

“I strongly believe that the place or the area have their own history and spirituality.”

\"Japan\'s architects in the distant past strove to bring their buildings into harmony with their environment and the surrounding view. Of course, I don\'t want to be a copycat but I do want to respect the thinking of the Japanese people and their culture and traditions.\"

\"I am certain that those who come here will understand that I consciously designed the museum to be assimilated into nature.\"

Principal Works: John Hancock Tower (1976)

National Gallery of Art / East Building Washington, DC (1978)

West Wing of Boston Museum of Fine Arts (1980)

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (1989)

Carillon Tower, Shiga (1990)

Bank of China, Hong Kong (1991)

Grand Louvre (1993)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1995)

Suzhou Art museum (2006)

A book of definitive photographs of the Miho Museum building titled, \"MIHO MUSEUM - I.M.Pei Architecture,\" is now available at the museum gift shop.

Price: ¥26,250. The book consists of 238 pages of beautiful photos.

Photography by: Mr. Higashide Kiyohiko


Architecture and general design:

1997 Ten Best Designs of 1997, Time Magazine

1998 HIROBA Architectural Award, Kink.

Federation of Architect & Building Engineers

Lighting design:

1997 Award of Excellence, 15th IALD Lighting Design Competition

1997 Good Lighting Design Award, Illumination Promoting Association, Japan

Structural Design (Bridge):

1999 Engineering Excellence Honor Award, American Consulting Engineers Council

1999 The Diamond Award for Excellence in Bridge Engineering, the New York Association of Consulting Engineers, INC

1999 Most Innovative Structure Award of 1999, Structure Engineers Association of Illinois

2002 Outstanding Structure Award, the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering

General Information

Museum Schedule 2012:

  Spring 2012: March 10th ~ June 10th


Summer 2012: July 7th ~ August 19th


(Invitation to the Monster World / South Wing)

  Autumn 2012: September 1st ~ December 9th

(Dogu, a Cosmos)

Hours : 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Admission until 4 p.m.)

Days: Closed Mondays (If a holiday falls on a Monday, the museum will be closed the following regular work day.)

group discounts (20+ people)

Admission: Adults ¥1000 ¥800

Students ¥800 ¥600

Children ¥300 ¥100

Parking : Parking is free of charge (20 buses and 150 cars)

General Inquiries

Miho Museum Public Relations

Tel : +81 (0)748- 82- 3411 Fax : +81 (0)748- 82- 3414

Address : 300, Tahiro Momodani, Shigaraki

Shiga, Japan 529-1814

Web site: E-mail: information@miho. jp

Access to the Miho

by train and bus

Teisan Bus Schedule For additional information about getting to the MIHO…


Ishiyama Arrives

MIHO Departs

MIHO Arrives


9:10 10:00

9:50 10:40 Italic = Saturdays, Sundays and National holidays ONLY

10:10 11:00 11:00 11:50

Transportation / Tour Option

Transportation to and from the MIHO can be arranged with JTB Sunrise Tours. For rates and other information… Tel:075-341-1413

11:10 12:00 12:00 12:50

12:10 13:00 13:00 13:50

13:10 14:00 14:00 14:50

14:10 15:00 15:00 15:50

16:07 16:57

17:14 18:04

by auto and taxi

Ishiyama Train Station

has a taxi stand just

outside of the station


The fare to the

MIHO Museum is

About 6,000 yen

(or US$60).

Signs directing cars to

the MIHO are posted

throughout the route.

From the MIHO, a

Taxi can be called

to pick up passengers.

Restaurant and Café

Peach Valley Restaurant Pine View Café (Tea Room)

Located inside the Reception Pavilion   Located inside the Museum building

10am-5pm (Lunch is served from 11:30-3:30) 10:30am-5pm

The Restaurant serves an assortment of The Café offers sandwiches, freshly baked

lunches, snacks, baked bread and fine breads, as well as, western and traditional

desserts. Japanese cakes and desserts.

About Natural Agriculture

Those who come to the Miho to view the exhibits and innovative architecture can also experience delectable meals prepared entirely with natural agriculture foods and beverages.

Natural Agriculture draws upon the use of pure soil without the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and any chemicals. Farmers practice this method of growing food not only to reproduce the genuine, original taste of food, but also to foster the health and of well-being for all elements in nature. With their emphasis on love, gratitude, and respect for nature, this is not only a method of food production; it is also a spiritual discipline that brings forth a profound reverence and trust in Nature.

Restaurant Menu Samples

For the entire menu, please visit

Onigiri-zen – Three different Rice balls served Hot Udon noodles – served in broth with vegetable

with seasonal vegetables and miso soup ¥1,600 tempura ¥1,200

※ Lunch box for groups (more than 20 people) \\1,500

Reservation must be made at least 5 days in advance.

Café Menu Samples


Other Menu Items

Cake (Seasonal cake, Bavarian cream cake etc.)........... ¥500

** English tea or coffee may be served with your cake for additional ¥300. **

Soy milk ice cream (Cow’s milk is not used.)……....... ¥500

Juice (Plum/Sudachi citrus/Others)………………….¥400

Black tea, Coffee………………………………………¥400

Shiratama Azuki

(Mochi rice flour dumplings with sweet red beans)......¥600

Vegetarian Options

Onigiri-zen: Miso soup can be prepared without any fish added.

Cold udon noodles: A regular dipping sauce can be replaced with a kombu (seaweed) dipping sauce.

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