Miho Museum (Shiga, Japan)
回想2002年六月的日本之旅，腦子裡閃過的還是京都府那座遺世獨立的山中小廟 – 美秀博物館（Miho Museum）。一座美術館為什麼會遺世獨立，我又為什麼稱它為山中小廟呢？就讓我娓娓道來。
Thinking of the trip to Japan in June 2002, the Miho Museum, what I called "a little temple isolated in the mountain" always came to my mind.
I came across the info about this museum for the first time a few years ago, when reading a review of it in an art magazine. One of the reasons that it attracts lots of attention is for the fact that it was designed by the famous architect IM Pei. Upon its beginning it has been a highly discussed project, and I've been looking forward to going for a visit one day.
Attitude wise, it's not a very friendly museum. Why? For its location. It's not an easily accessible place. After getting off the train at the nearest train station, one has to take a bus ride for almost an hour, passing through countryside to arrive. It requires some efforts from visitor to go and if one wasn't intended to go he/she wouldn't spend a whole day for this pilgrimage. On the other hand, Pei's design was partly originated from the idea of the earthly paradise in the old Chinese tale, "Peach Blossom Spring." The valley where the museum is situated is called "Peach Valley". That's another coincidence. It takes people away from the chaotic society. A quiet place for those who long for an escape.
Getting off the bus, a creamy white building came into y eyes. It's the "front door" of the museum. We got the tickets there. Under the guidance of the staff, my mom and grandpa went onto the shuttle which bring visitors back and forth the from entrance and the main building. To experience entering the "Peach Blossom Spring", I chose to walk. The story of Peach Blossom Spring was written by poet TaoYuan-Ming, and almost everyone of us read it at school. I remember the part describing the pathway into the Peach Blossom Spring, it represents the path from human world into heaven. I didn't really see peach trees but cherry blossoms. However, from Pei's guidance I did feel like walking into a temple of beauty. When I walked through the tunnel and bridge, I felt purified and cleansed. A peculiar building came into my eyes. Something that reminds me a Chinese temple. It's a pleasant week day, and there're not too many visitors. I was walking all alone and could clearly hear the birds singing. Quite a refreshing feeling.
Going through "Dream Door", I arrived the main hall which brought to me a sense of geometry incorporated with nature. The exhibitions are divided into the North hall and South hall. The collections of the Shumei family are exhibited according to geographic area, culture, religion and chronology. One of the most impressive items is the yohen tenmoku teabowls from the Song Dynasty (China). According to the description of the museum, there're only three teabowl of this kind exist in this world, and the one in the museum is actually the forth which was unknown to the world before. The special crystals on the bowl was a rare thing to see. It was a kind produced in the Chinese Fujien province. It was passed down in the Maeda Family since Maeda Toshitsune and was also recorded in the utensil of tea ceremony of the family.
The museum provides a good trilingual audio-guide service (Chinese, English and Japanese). Visitors can explore the info according to his needs and interest. Though the museum adopted CD player as media, the data reading was farely slow and it's quite a big thing to carry for the user, it is anyway a convenient device for those who intend to explore the museum in detail.
One of the things I especially enjoy in Japanese museums is their museum shop. There're always a good selection of finely produced items or copies to be taken away as souvenir. I was attractly by the white bone china tea service set. If not for the high price, I would surely bring it back home.
We were fairly tired after the visit and we also had to catch the bus. So we decided to leave after a three-hour visit. Before leaving, I went to the video room to see a short film documenting the whole project, and I was again surprised by how much efforts and money were put into this project. The museum is situated in a special protected area with triple kinds of limitation. So various laws and regulations have to be met. Also, Pei especially melted the idea of enviromental protection into his design and 80% of the building was actually buried underground so that the building can merge with the nature as much as possible. During construction, half a moutain was removed and then brought back when the building was about to be completed. A respect of the original landscape, it's something that I've never thought of before. Pei actually achieved a balance between nature and architecture and brought to the world another viewpoint.