Goto Sumio Museum in Furano

View the stunning art of watercolourist Goto Sumio

By Valerie Kor    - 3 min read

Have you heard of Goto Sumio? Prior to visiting Furano, I had not known about Goto Sumio nor his paintings, but a trip to the museum completely changed that. This museum is a definitely must-visit for art lovers, but the beauty of Goto Sumio’s paintings can certainly be enjoyed by people of all ages.

For non-Japanese speakers, I recommend getting the audio guide from the counter. When you key in the number on each respective painting, the audio guide plays a first-person recount of the story behind each painting. Even though I’m aware that Goto Sumio does not speak fluent English, the tone and the age of the voice makes it sound like he was talking to me. It felt really personal. When I heard Goto Sumio talking about his father berating him for his fear of airplanes, which caused him to hesitate going overseas, I just had to chuckle.

And we all have his father to thank. It was on his visits to China that Goto Sumio produced some of his most famous works. One of the most notable works that he did in China was the Jiaohe Ruins, or Kougakojo. He also travelled across Japan to capture the scenic beauty of the shrines in Kyoto against a backdrop of stunning sakura.

Goto Sumio clearly understands that a good watercolourist should have both techniques and the right materials. Many of his paintings make use of high quality paint such as gold leaf, platinum leaf, turquoise and coral. The valuable paints extracted from precious stones make the paintings reflect light in such a way that make them look almost alive. Just looking at them can take your breath away! For these reasons, several of Goto Sumio's paintings have already been designated as Japan's national treasures. No 2D photo can do the paintings of Goto Sumio justice. You just have to visit the museum and appreciate them with your own eyes!

Apart from his most famous works, the museum also displays some works from his younger years. Each painting has a story and an emotion; it was really interesting to go through the exhibits and to listen to the workings of an artist’s mind.

I was entirely taken by his style of painting. At the museum shop, I bought a print of his painting of Sakura to adorn on my wall when I’m home and a dozen postcards to send back to friends and family.

Apart from the exhibition area, the museum has a beautiful restaurant looking out to several peaks in Furano. Have a cup of coffee or a choice of delicious grill for lunch at the restaurant while looking out at the fabulous scenery of snow-capped mountains.

Goto Sumio is now a world-renowned artist and his works have been featured in global exhibitions worldwide. Now, Goto Sumio lives in Furano and is still painting. Other than skiing in winter or sightseeing at the lavender fields, don't miss this cultural and educational trip to the Goto Sumio museum.

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Valerie Kor

Valerie Kor @valerie.kor

From a tiny red dot on the map, Singapore. The size of my country is only one of the many reasons I grab any opportunity I can to travel and live in places other than home. I love photography, writing, yoga, and going to beautiful or quirky cafes. My life goal is to learn as many languages as possible! 

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