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Autumn ART Immersion
Four One-of-a-Kind Museums

Kyoto is known the world over as the home of Japanese history and tradition. Kyoto and its surrounding areas are exceptional in that visitors can fully appreciate history, culture, modernity, art and an abundance of exquisite locations all in one place. Here are some must-not-miss art exhibitions scheduled for this autumn which will let visitors immerse themselves deeply into the world of art.

Miho Museum
''Shangri-La'' nestled in nature offering inner fulfillment

Passing through the sleek tunnel and the suspension bridge is an essential preparatory passage before entering the museum.

In November 1997, a spectacular museum celebrated its grand opening in a nature preserve outside Shigaraki, an hour southeast of Kyoto. Since then, Miho Museum -celebrating its 20th anniversary this autumn- has fascinated millions of people from every aspect: its philosophy, art collection, architecture and surrounding environment. The marvelous architecture is counted as one of the masterpieces designed by Ieoh Ming Pei (1917-), the acclaimed American architect who also designed the world-famous glass pyramid of the Louvre Museum and the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

The temple-like glass-and-steel main building, one of I.M. Pei's masterpieces.

''Shangri-La-Tracing the footsteps of I.M. Pei and Miho Museum'' is a special exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the museum and the 100th birthday of Pei, occurring simultaneously this year. A number of works from the museum's private collection will be exhibited throughout the complex. The North Wing features Japanese antiques while the South Wing presents a wide range of superb exhibits from ancient cultures and countries around the world including Egypt, Western and Southern Asia and China.

Eighty percent of the museum's structure is beneath the earth so as to preserve its natural environment and to assimilate it into the surrounding scenery.

A variety of special events will be organized during the special exhibition period focusing on architecture as well as food and events for children. A trip to Miho Museum offers an opportunity to touch and share in the sense of beauty held by people in ancient times through a collection which pursues the holiness and beauty of human existence.

Miho Museum is also something of a place of worship: they believe that beauty and art offer the truest path to inner fulfillment.

The long winding road through the mountains of Shigaraki brings you to the reception building with its nice sunny cafe, gift shop and bakery. However, you still need to go a little further to reach the hidden museum building.

Enjoying the pleasant walk along a slope lined with cherry trees, passing through a sleek tunnel, then crossing a beautiful suspension bridge over a ravine, offers visitors a unique and worthwhile preparatory passage for entering I.M. Pei's glassand-steel building. Walk up the stairs to the main entrance where sunlight pours through the large glass windows and roofs and you will be welcomed by staff members with warm smiles.

Yohen Tenmoku Bowl; 12-13th century

Eighty percent of the museum's structure is beneath the earth, carved out of the rocky mountaintop, so as to preserve the natural environment and assimilate it into the surrounding scenery. The museum is a magnificent embodiment of two aspects of architecture: a structure standing in nature and at the same time being part of nature.

Elephant and Whale Screens by Jakuchu Ito; 1795; exhibited until October 9

The museum's extensive museum collection is unrivalled and consists of approximately 2000 items including ancient artifacts, Buddhist art pieces, utensils for Japanese tea ceremony as well as paintings, lacquerware, ceramics, and more. Several hundred items are showcased in the seasonal exhibitions every year.

In the morning, afternoon and evening of every season, this museum amidst the mountains of Shigaraki reveals a different face every time one visits. Unlike the real Shangri-La, where it is said that one can discover only by chance and never revisit, the Miho Museum always welcomes visitors like an oasis nestling in ever-lasting tranquility.

''Shangri-La- Tracing the footsteps of I.M. Pei and Miho Museum''
Period: Until December 17; Open: 10:00-17:00 (enter by 16:00); Closed: Mondays (or the next day, if Mon. is a national holiday); Admission: Adults: 1,100 yen; Students: 800 yen; Children: 300 yen; Tel: 0748-82-3411; miho.jp

Forever Museum of Contemporary Art, Gion-Kyoto
Contemporary art meets a tradition of Kyoto in Gion

The Gion district has a profound history and the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theatre is where the tradition and customs of the world of geiko and maiko are still strictly respected. Thus, the large yellow pumpkin which suddenly appeared at the entrance of the Kaburenjo was all the more striking and remarkable. Needless to say, it is one of the signature art works by Yayoi Kusama, an internationally famous Japanese contemporary artist.

Room 2 ''New York Period and Return to Japan''

The Forever Museum of Contemporary Art (FMOCA) was formerly based in Akita Prefecture in northern Japan and only moved to Kyoto this year. The museum spent more than thirty years collecting nearly 700 art works of which almost sixty-percent are by Kusama. About 80 of her works are exhibited in the current pre-opening exhibition, titled ''Yayoi Kusama - My Soul Forever.''

Pumpkin at the entrance

The museum is housed in the Yasaka Club, part of the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo built in 1913, and designated as a cultural property of the city. What makes FMOCA unique compared to general art galleries and museums is that all of the exhibition rooms are traditional Japanese style. Thus, visitors need to take off their shoes at the entrance and walk on tatami mats. If not crowded, you can sit on the tatami right in front of your favorite art work and enjoy appreciating it for as long as you wish.

A Boat Carrying my Soul; 1989

There is also a fine Japanese garden attached to the building. Visitors can sit on the comfortable cushion seat set on the balcony and observe the seasonal beauty or can take a stroll around the garden itself. A completely modern art museum opened in the most traditional part of Japan - this is where contemporary art meets tradition in a form that only Kyoto ''today'' can offer!

Yayoi Kusama, My Soul Forever
Period: Until February 25, 2018; Open: 10:00-18:00 (enter by 17:30); Closed: Mondays (or the next day, if Mon. is a national holiday) & Dec. 30-Jan. 3; Admission: Adults: 1,200 yen; Tel: 075-532-0270; www.fmoca.jp

Kyoto National Museum
National Treasures -Encounter the beauty of Japan

The history of the Kyoto National Museum is close to that of Japan's Kokuho, or National Treasures. In 1897, the museum opened and in that same year, the term ''National Treasures'' was first used as part of the newly enacted Law for the Preservation of Old Shrines and Temples. The current special exhibition, ''National Treasures-Encounter the Beauty of Japan'' celebrates this landmark anniversary.

Standing Buddha Shakyamuni; China, Northern Song dynasty; 985; Seiryo-ji Temple, Kyoto.

A National Treasure is a cultural and artistic item regarded as a highly precious tangible cultural property by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. Each National Treasure must show outstanding workmanship, a high value for world cultural history, or exceptional value for scholarship.

Amanohashidate by Sesshu (National Treasure); 16th century; Huike Offering His Arm to Bodhidharma by Sesshu; 1496; Sainen-ji Temple, Aichi Pref.; Exhibited from Oct. 3-29

This special exhibition features approximately 210 National Treasures, including paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, decorative arts, and archeological artifacts, shown in several instalments over the exhibition period. Don't miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to encounter some of the most beautiful and significant works in Japanese history.

National Treasures: Masterpieces of Japan
Period: October 3-November 26; Open: 9:30-18:00 (enter by 17:30), until 20:00 on Fri. & Sat.; Closed: End & beginning of the year; Admission: Adults: 1,500 yen; University Students: 1,200 yen; High School Students: 900 yen; Tel: 075-525-2473; kyoto-kokuhou2017.jp/

Sagawa Art Museum
Meet 10 Ukiyo-e All Stars in the ''floating'' museum

Sagawa Art Museum is located in Moriyama, an ancient district of Shiga prefecture, amongst lush natural surroundings and in sight of Lake Biwa. The museum's permanent exhibition offers an opportunity to discover works by outstanding artists that embody the spirit of Japanese art, such as the painter, Ikuo Hirayama, the sculptor, Churyo Sato, and the ceramic artist, Kichizaemon Raku in the superb ''floating'' museum.

The ''floating'' museum building is an art form in itself

In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the current special exhibition is also a must-visit. Ukiyo-e is a traditional Japanese woodblock print, often depicting kabuki actors, beautiful ladies and the life of people in those days, which became extremely popular in the Edo period (1603-1868). A number of ukiyo-e prints were exported to Europe in the 19th century and had a significant influence on famous artists like Van Gogh and Monet.

O-atari Kyogen no Uchi (Great Kyogen Successes Series), Kanjosho By Utagawa; Around 1814-15; Asahina Bunko

''Ten Ukiyo-e Masters Exhibition'' is a wonderful chance to experience a number of ukiyo-e masterpieces by ten Ukiyo-e All Stars from the mid to the end of the Meiji period such as Sharaku Toshusai, Utamaro Kitagawa, Hokusai Katsushika, Hiroshige Utagawa and others.

Ten Ukiyo-e Masters Exhibition

Period: September 30-November 26; Open: 9:30-17:00 (enter by 16:30); Closed: Mon. (open if Mon. is a holiday and closed next day); Admission: Adults: 1,000 yen; Tel: 077-585-7800; www.sagawa-artmuseum.or.jp