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The artistic side of Yamanashi: five of the best museums in the prefecture

Not many people think of the rocky, picturesque prefecture of Yamanashi as a hotbed of art, both traditional and contemporary, but the museums and galleries in the region have become a major attraction for artists and art appreciators. Any list will barely scratch the surface, but here are five worthy spots to get you started!

The artistic side of Yamanashi: five of the best museums in the prefecture
  • The Nakamura Keith Haring Collection

    The Nakamura Keith Haring Collection

    The Nakamura Keith Haring Collection

    Keith Haring's kinetic, socially conscious street art has an outsized following in Japan, but it’s still a bit surprising to encounter this temple to Haring in Yamanashi. The project of Nakamura Kazuo, a local boy made good in the pharmaceutical industry, the museum curates the hundreds of pieces in the Nakamura’s private collection and hosts traveling exhibits in a stunning Kitagawara Atsushi-designed building in the Kobuchizawa Art Village. The nearby Hotel Keyforest Hokuto was designed by Kitagawara as an accompaniment to the collection’s building, and if—as Nakamura suggests one should—you visit the museum multiple times, Keyforest Hokuto is the perfect base.

    Nakamura Keith Haring Collection
    Address
    Yamanashi Pref. Hokutoshi Kobuchisawachou 10249-7
    Phone
    0551368712
  • Kiyoharu Art Colony

    Kiyoharu Art Colony

    Kiyoharu Art Colony

    The Kiyoharu Art Colony is a collection of museums and spaces that includes a Taniguchi Yoshio-designed, La Ruche, a replica of a Gustave Eiffel-designed building for the Great Exposition of 1900 in Paris (and a statue of Eiffel with an original section of staircase from his tower stands on the grounds, as well), and the Tadao Ando-designed Museum of the Light. Apart from the superstar architecture, the museums and gallery spaces host some of the best, most recent work in contemporary art. After roaming the grounds, take a coffee and pastry or a plate of duck confit under the wisteria trellis at the Art Colony’s La Palette, touted as the first French restaurant in the prefecture.

    Kiyoharu Art Colony
    Address
    Yamanashi Pref. Hokutoshi Nagasakachounakamaru 2072
    Phone
    0551323737
  • Gallery Muu

    Gallery Muu

    Gallery Muu

    Off the Chuo Expressway in the northern half of the prefecture, nearly in Nagano, Gallery Muu in set in the forested foothills of the prefectural borderlands. The sprawling space exhibits ceramics, stoneware, sculpture, and a wide variety of other folk art and handicrafts native to the region. It’s hard to sum up the collection in a sentence, and it changes with the season. The museum is open to the elements, with guests strolling open walkways around the main buildings (for that reason, it’s closed from November to March, when the snow rolls in). The gift shop curates its own collection of mostly functional pieces, with handcrafted ceramics, glassware and textiles.

    Yume Udani Gallery MUU
    Address
    Yamanashi Hokuto Oizumicho Yato 5865-12
    Phone
    0551380061
  • The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

    The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

    The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

    Down on Lake Kawaguchi, in an area with almost as many museums as onsens, the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum is home to the work of its namesake textile artist who revived the lost traditional form of tsujigahana, a Muromachi era (1336–1573) fabric dyeing technique. Kubota’s work has been exhibited in galleries around the world, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. This is a rare opportunity to see the largest collection of his work. Inspired by Antoni Gaudí, the museum building is a work of art in its own right, a perfect match the Kubota’s textile work, as well as other pieces collected by the artist. At the end of exploring the space, stop for a cup of macha in the artist’s former workshop.

    The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

    The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

    Itchiku Kubota Art Museum
    Address
    Yamanashi Pref. Minamitsurugunfujikawaguchikomachi Kawaguchi 2255
    Phone
    0555768811
  • Kawaguchiko Muse Museum

    Kawaguchiko Muse Museum

    Kawaguchiko Muse Museum

    Another worthy spot on Lake Kawaguchi, Kawaguchiko Muse Museum hosts the work of Yuki Atae, whose cotton cloth dolls maker. He held a personal exhibition at New York, Paris, and Sao Paulo. The dolls scratch a nostalgic itch, presenting a slice of life in early-20th century Japan, but they also represent the highest expression of the indigenous artistic tradition of dollmaking. After the dolls, tour the other gallery spaces and stop for a cup of tea with a view of Yagizaki Park.

    Kawaguchiko Muse Museum Yuki Atae Building
    Address
    Yamanashi Pref. Minamitsurugunfujikawaguchikomachi Kodachi 923
    Phone
    0555725258
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