High-end quality radiates from out of every object, every position and every angle at the Mitsui Memorial Museum. Even the building it is located in, the Mitsui Honkan Building, is listed as an Important Cultural Property. As you walk up to the 1929 Showa Era Western-design of the Mitsui Honkan Building where the museum is located, you get the distinct feeling that art is serious business here.
Understandably so, too. The Mitsui Group was one of Japan's zaibutsu - powerful commercial and industrial conglomerates that dominated the country's economy and business up until the end of the Second World War. The works featured on display here at the museum come from the private collection of the Mitsui family and its various branches. A number of these works have been designated as National Treasures while others have been afforded the label of Important Cultural Property.
There is a dignified, and slightly conservative sense of regality to the wood panelling that decorates the interior. The exhibits here are, as they say, for your eyes only. Photography is forbidden and you have to rely on your own sense of discernment.
Having said that, the museum is open to anybody and everybody. Japan is decidedly democratic in this sense. And when you do visit, you will pause at the implied pride in the depth of culture and history on display. An indisputable focus on Japan's traditional arts and traditions, its masters and masteries, is everywhere evident.
Noh theatrical costumes and masks, calligraphic brushworks and paintings by master artists, swords crafted by traditional swordsmiths and the ever ubiquitous tea ceremony all take pride of place in this most strikingly noble of museums.
Please visit the official website for exhibition runs and holiday closures.