Miho Museum   ミホミュージアム

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The entrance to the Miho Museum (near Kyoto), an underground building designed by IM Pei.

The hall of Greco-Roman antiquities of Miho Museum (near Kyoto).

The building of the Miho Museum and the large bay window overlooking a landscape of pines and maples

The building of the Miho Museum and the large bay window overlooking a landscape of pines and maples

Exquisite Beauty

Near Kyoto, the red pine forest that covers the mountains of Shiga, a classified nature reserve, is home to an unusual museum of East Asian art, lost in sovereign heights.

A tunnel, then a cable bridge, suspended over a gorge, and then the monumental entrance to the Miho. With three-quarters of the museum buried to preserve its surroundings, the building opened in 1997 and was designed by the Chinese American architect IM Pei (born 1917), creator of the Grand Louvre and its Pyramids in Paris. Bathed in natural light, the building, with a large bay window overlooking a landscape of pines and maples, maintains a collection of over one thousand pieces.

Museum not sectarian

The museum was built with a fund established by Mihoko Koyama (1910-2003), a wealthy heiress and founder of the messianic sect Shinji Shumeikai. It was at her request that the architect created a representation of a Shangri-la, the legendary paradise located in a hidden valley in the Himalayas.

The treasures gathered by the High Priestess of this religion, by writing huge checks, is not confined to a theme or a geographic area.

Major pieces

The north wing has temporary exhibitions devoted to the elements of Japanese aesthetics: tea ceremony, calligraphy, ceramics, paints, masks and Buddhist statues. The south wing brings together hundreds of pieces of the Sassanian, Persian, Egyptian, Roman, and Chinese Empires ... A focus on the cultural history and traditions of the origins of the Silk Road, presented in a magnificent scenery.

Some, such as the gold and silver statue of the Egyptian god Ra, or that of the merciful Buddha statue from 2nd century Pakistan, could make internationally renowned museums green with envy ... And the rooms dedicated to China and the Southeast Asia in particular are great ways to discover the many influences of Persian culture on Chinese art, and to redo the road that spread the Buddhist religion.

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