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Akino Fuku Art Museum, Hamamatsu

Charming art in a unique building

Something I enjoy when I travel to new places in Japan is how I can always find little gems of art museums, be they in big cities, in smaller towns, or out in the countryside. They're often quite out of the way, but I usually find it's worth making the effort to get to them, and I also enjoy the change of scenery. In the Tenryu district north of central Hamamatsu, the Akino Fuku Museum is one such delight, with its peaceful wooded setting and uniquely charming building.

To get there I took the Enshu train line from Shin-Hamamatsu station to its terminal at Nishi-Kajima, a journey of about thirty minutes. From there it was maybe around a thirty-minute walk to the museum; I'm not sure exactly because I stopped for lunch at eel restaurant Noryotei on the way there, and to admire the statues at Eirinji temple on the way back.

Just round the corner from Eirinji, the approach to the museum took me up a steepish hill, with trees all around, past a few funky, colourful sculptures, then climbed round a steep curve to reach the top. It was here that the museum came fully into sight, with a small lawn in front and a view out over the town behind it.

The building is full of rustic character, looking more like a long farmhouse than a museum, with its stucco plaster walls and tiled roof. It's the same when you step inside: the entrance area has a high ceiling, supported by heavy beams of local cedar, and the exhibition rooms are shoes-off, adding to the feeling of calm.

The two large rooms on the first floor are home to paintings from the permanent exhibition by Akino Fuku, an award-winning locally born Japanese artist who was inspired by her travels to countries such as India, Cambodia and Afghanistan. There are plenty of nature scenes in soothing colours, idyllic landscapes with stylized birds, butterflies and foxes hiding among the greenery. During her travels she also created larger, semi-abstract paintings of temples and desert landscapes, simultaneously cheerful and restful.

When I visited, the special exhibition on the second floor was of paintings by Tokyo-born artist Fumiko Hori. These complemented the permanent exhibition nicely, also colourful and cheery: jellyfish trailing luminescent tendrils in a deep azure ocean, more birds and flowers, and "Utopia", like a happy psychedelic cave painting, with animals and birds and people and trees all living together on one big moonlit rock. Her works weren't all so cutesy, mind: "Owari" gave us withered sunflowers with leaves eaten up by insects, while another showed us a woman in a full orange burqa with a caged bluebird on her head, the symbolism quite apparent.

There's a small stand at the entrance selling prints, postcards and other goods, and there are also a couple of benches to rest on, and a pleasant terrace where you can take the air and admire the view. With the location, the building and the art all matching each other perfectly, the Akino Fuku Museum is a very charming place to visit, and totally rewards the effort of getting there.

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Sherilyn Siy 3 years ago
So cool how they built the new building incorporating the old seamlessly.