Interview with Atami MOA Museum of Art

Interview with Atami MOA Museum of Art

When you think of Shizuoka, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is the vast stretch of tea fields, or the majestic Mt. Fuji. However, there is so much more that you can explore in this Japanese prefecture. Located between Tokyo and Osaka, Atami is renowned as a resort area to help city dwellers relax and unwind. You can find many hot springs, experience stunning views of Mount Fuji, eat delicious sushi, and it's also great for art lovers. 

I've had the wonderful opportunity to interview the Atami MOA Museum of Art—a place that strives to introduce Japanese culture to the world—so, without further ado, let me present the Museum to you!

Welcome to my blog, Life is a Box of Mochi! Could you please introduce yourself and talk about your job at the Atami MOA Museum of Art? 

I am Mr. Kamimuro of MOA Museum of Art. I carry out sales and publicity for the Museum. 

What kind of collections can visitors find at the MOA Museum of Art?

MOA Museum houses 3500 pieces based on the collections of founder Mokichi Okada (1882~1955), including 3 National Treasures, 67 Important Cultural Properties, and 46 Important Works of Art across a wide range of fields including paintings, sculptures, ceramics and lacquerware. Particularly, Asian works of art starting with Japanese and Chinese pieces have high artistic and research value, with many pieces across various fields expressing artistic history being a feature. Also, we have many well preserved pieces with high appreciation value across all categories. Every year, 8 or 9 displays are arranged from both the permanent collection and from other museums to the delight of many visitors.

The Museum is currently hosting “The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido” exhibition, could you share more details about this?

36 Views of Mt Fuji and 53 Stations of Tokaido

In the Edo Period, Edo grew into a major centre. Ukiyoe (wood block prints) emerged expressing the colourful lives and culture of everyday people against the background of a rapidly growing economy. Subjects at that time were mostly women of pleasure and Kabuki actors, so emergence of Tokaido travel scenes and natural vistas inspired a new interest in landscapes. In 1831 Nishimuraeijudo published Katsushika Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mt Fuji”, which employed new composition techniques and imported Pero blue colour to popularly express Mt Fuji as a spiritual background. Then, in 1833, Takenouchi Magohachi published Hiroshige Utagawa’s crowning achievement “53 Stations of Tokaido”, which expresses travel scenes and natural vistas along with people’s everyday lives. 

This is a special exhibition to display both of these famous wood block painting series alongside each other.

Do you have a favourite among the thirty-six views of Mount Fuji?

Within the exhibition, of particular interest are the big 3 pieces of “36 Views of Mt Fuji”, namely “Red Fuji”, “Black Fuji”, and “Great Wave of Kanagawa”. I particularly like “Red Fuji”.

The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido from the Museum Collection - Under the Wave off Kanagawa
Image credit: Atami MOA Museum of Art

Could you tell us one interesting fact about Mt. Fuji foreigners who would like to visit Japan may not know?

These days people of any gender or age are welcome to climb Mt Fuji, but until 1872 women were prohibited from climbing the mountain. It is said that 40 years prior to that liberalization, in September 1832, a woman known as Takayama Tatsu (which means 'Standing on top of the Tall Mountain') tied up her hair and dressed in men’s clothing to climb the mountain. This is the first recorded summiting of the mountain by a woman. Standing on the Tall Mountain teamed up with other folks who espoused gender equality to climb the mountain and arrived at the snowy summit very cold. Also, in terms of people from overseas, England’s first ambassador to Japan Alcock summited in 1860. 

Are there any other upcoming events or exhibitions that foreigner visitors in Japan can attend?

At MOA Museum, in addition to appreciating exhibitions particularly of Asian art, there is also a Noh Theatre, Japanese Garden, Teahouse, and Japanese restaurants allowing visitors to enjoy Japanese culture in all seasons. Particularly, the Noh Theatre within the Museum “Atamiza” hosts regular performances of theatre and music.  Please check social media for updates on art appreciation and cultural experiences. Also within the Museum, the first Japanese person to attain Chef Patissier Diploma, Producer Toshi Yoroizuka’s sweet store is open. His sweets give a satisfying performance.  

The Museum is located in the beautiful city of Atami. What other spots would you recommend to people who want to do some sightseeing?

Atami is a famous hot spring resort in Japan where Japanese have relaxed since the Nara Period (9th century). Surrounded by bountiful nature, with the expansive ocean sprawling in front, we can enjoy hot springs flowing within the town. Throughout the year we can enjoy beautiful flowers according to the different seasons in a warm climate, swimming at the beach is popular in summer, and at the port are various fresh seafood catches. Also access from Tokyo is very convenient, so Atami is a popular resort for leisure and cuisine for visitors from all over the world. 

Therefore, I really urge visitors to Atami to experience our hot springs as people have since ancient times. Also, please enjoy MOA Museum of Art which incorporates Atami’s spectacular scenery with art, spiritual powerspot from ancient times Izusan Shrine, and finally delicious Japanese food made from seafood and produce all grown in an abundant natural environment.

Is there anything else you would like to share with Life is a Box of Mochi readers?

About 1 hour from Tokyo by Shinkansen, in no time at all you arrive in Japan’s representative hot spring resort “Atami”. Undoubtedly readers’ hearts and bodies will be refreshed through a happy moment here. We look forward to your visit.

Thank you so much for your time, Mr Kamimuro! 

If you are a foreigner living in Japan, please go visit the Atami MOA Museum of Art, you can still view the exhibition “The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido” until July 18th. 

Atami MOA Museum of Art

*All the images belong to Atami MOA Museum of Art

4 comments

  1. Thanks so much for doing this interesting and so detailed interview! I loved knowing about this Museum and the kind of events/exhibitions hosted there, they sound like my cup of tea! Even though I'm not able to attend the beautiful exhibition they are hosting right now, thanks to Mr Kamimuro I now definitely plan to visit the museum (and the hot springs!) once I can finally travel to Japan ✌🏻 γ‚γ‚ŠγŒγ¨γ†γ”γ–γ„γΎγ™!

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    1. Thanks, Silvia, I'm really glad you enjoyed the interview! Atami is a very beautiful place, so I look forward to spending some time there visiting all the cool places Mr. Kamimuro suggested!

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  2. I will be adding this to my list of places I wish to go in Japan. Thank you for sharing it! I would love to experience their teahouse. And the hot spring resort.

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    1. Thank you, Greg! Yes, Atami is definitely going onto my 'Places to Visit' list now.

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