Japan: The Garden of the Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi
Updated: Oct 19
This private museum, created by Mr. Adachi Zenko in 1970, houses an exceptional collection of paintings by Yokoyama Taikan and various other Japanese artworks. A passionate lover of gardens and a major art collector, Adachi Zenko wanted to create this museum and garden as a tribute to his hometown, while also contributing to the cultural development of Shimane Prefecture. His aim was to connect his collection of Yokoyama Taikan paintings with a lush garden.
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Interestingly, it is primarily through this magnificent landscaped garden that the museum has gained worldwide fame. This contemplative garden has, in fact, been selected for the 18th consecutive year by the American magazine The Garden Ranking of Japan as the most beautiful garden in Japan.
© O. Robert
The Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi
As its name suggests, this museum is primarily a cultural establishment dedicated to the promotion and celebration of the arts. Since its opening, the museum has garnered a reputation for its eclectic collections and engaging exhibitions. Housed in a building with intriguing architecture, the museum offers an environment that balances modernity with tradition.
The museum's collections vary depending on temporary exhibitions, but one can often see works of modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, and installations. In 2018, for example, the museum hosted a retrospective of artist Yayoi Kusama, famous for her immersive installations and polka-dot patterns. The exhibition attracted visitors from around the world, establishing the museum as a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts.
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Indeed, it is oddly more famous in the United States than anywhere else, which perhaps explains the disproportionate size of its parking lot that accommodates dozens of tourist buses. Unfortunately, these tourist buses come to Shimane only to visit this museum, not taking the opportunity to explore the other beautiful sites of the prefecture. Since the garden gained fame in the USA, the Japanese have also become enthusiastic about this museum and flock to it in large numbers each year to visit.
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The Garden of the Adachi Museum of Art
The Garden, directly attached to the museum, is often considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the country, winning multiple national and international awards. It spans approximately 165,000 square meters and is designed to merge the art of gardening with that of painting and sculpture.
A unique feature of this garden is its "shakkei" design, which involves borrowing the surrounding landscape to create a scene larger than the garden itself. The mountains, hills, and even the sky thus become elements of the garden, offering a unique visual experience. This aligns with Zenko's philosophy, who viewed the garden as a "living painting".
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The garden is composed of several sections, including a rock garden, a pond with koi carp, and wooded areas. The arrangement of plants, stones, and water is meticulously planned to evoke different emotions throughout the seasons. Cherry blossoms in the spring, glowing maple leaves in the fall, and pristine snow in winter offer an aesthetic experience that changes throughout the year.
What also sets this garden apart is how it integrates with the built environment. Visitors are encouraged to discover the garden through strategically placed windows throughout the tour, offering different "frames" of the garden depending on the viewing angle.
Consequently, the garden is primarily visible from inside the museum. Visitors will have to content themselves with looking at and photographing it through the massive windows provided for this purpose. However, it is possible to step outside for just a few meters to take your handheld photos, as tripods are, of course, not allowed. Regardless, this museum and its garden are clearly worth the visit. Dedicate a few hours to them, and you will leave enchanted.
© O. Robert
In addition to its exhibitions, the Adachi Museum of Art is also known for its educational programs. Workshops, lectures, and guided tours are regularly organized to engage audiences of all ages in artistic dialogue. The museum also collaborates with local schools to encourage art education from an early age.
In summary, this museum is more than just a place for exhibitions; it's a space where art and culture are celebrated, studied, and shared. Whether you are an art enthusiast or an occasional visitor, the museum offers an experience that is worth the trip.
You can also enjoy a relaxing moment in the traditional tea room, Juraku-an, savoring a cup of Matcha tea while contemplating the garden.
The Book of Tea
How to Get to the Adachi Museum of Art
The museum is located in Yasugi, in Shimane Prefecture. This prefecture is part of the San-in region. Located on the northwest facade of the island of Honshu, facing the Sea of Japan to the north of Hiroshima, the San-in region literally means "In the Shadow of the Mountains".
This area is little known to foreign tourists, largely due to its particular geographical location. The isolation imposed by the Chugoku mountain range separates it from the cities of Kobe, Okayama, and Hiroshima. Only in recent years has the San-in region opened up to domestic tourism, and a few foreigners venture there each year to discover other aspects of Japanese culture.
Japanese Zen Gardens - Yoko Kawaguchi
Getting to the San-in Region
If you're departing from Tokyo, you can take a direct flight to the most important cities in this region, namely Tottori or Matsue. Otherwise, your best option is to go by train, as no other national airports serve these cities.
The easiest way is to get to Tottori via the "Super Hakuto Express" train from either Kyoto or Osaka. The journey takes about 3 hours from Kyoto.
From there, you can reach the Adachi Museum of Art from the center of Matsue in 30 minutes by car (26 km).
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For More Information on the Adachi Museum of Art: www.adachi-museum.or.jp/en/
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