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Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Japan – Breathtaking Kimono Art

Itchiku Kubota (1917-2003) is a contemporary kimono artist who drew inspiration from a long lost dyeing technique in Japan. His art and story are touching and inspiring. The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Yamanashi, Japan, which boasts a stunning view of Mt. Fuji, is a piece of art itself designed by master Kubota. Following Bigguidess to find out it!

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Japan – Breathtaking Kimono Art

History of Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Japan

Kubota Itchiku (1917-2003) was the artist who revived the lost art of Tsujigahana silk dyeing, used to decorate elaborate kimono during the Muromachi Period (1333-1573). In his early twenties he was so inspired by a fragment of Tsujigahana textile exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum, that he devoted the rest of his life to recreating and mastering the labor-intensive silk dyeing technique.

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Japan - Breathtaking Kimono Art

An intriguing museum devoted to Kubota Itchiku stands in the wooded hills along the northern coast of Lake Kawaguchiko. Exhibited are several of the artist’s kimono creations, depicting themes of nature, the cosmos and the seasons. Also on display are parts of his unfinished masterpiece “Symphony of Light”, a huge work comprised of 80 kimono that together form of a picture of Mount Fuji.

The museum’s buildings and gardens are also fascinating. The buildings are made of Okinawan coral and limestone, while the main gallery is a massive timber frame construction. A waterfall and outdoor stage are located besides the museum’s reception building where events are occasionally held. A unique tea room is located in the back of the gallery.

The extensive gardens, which were designed by Kubota Itchiku himself and stretch from the entrance gate far into the wooded slopes behind the museum buildings, are also worth a stroll. Artworks from various places in Asia and Africa are placed around the museum grounds.

A one-of-a-kind art museum experience

The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum is well known for its beautiful collection of kimono, but the first thing you’ll notice as you enter the grounds of the museum is its garden. Visit in early November, when the contrast of dark green bamboo with fire-red Japanese maple leaves is quite remarkable.

As colorful as the garden is, however, nothing can prepare you for the profusion of colors on display in the museum’s main exhibit. You will want to linger in the main exhibit hall to look at the fine details of each magnificent kimono on display.

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Japan - Breathtaking Kimono Art

A dramatic setting to display astounding kimono

The main building of the museum is made of Okinawan coral and limestone, designed in the spirit of Gaudi. But inside, the cypress structure is grand and, at once, cavernous and cozy. The wooden rafters of the structure provide a stark and stunning backdrop to the colorful and intricate kimono.

More than 100 kimono are on permanent display in the museum, but only a quarter of them are exhibited at any one time.

Explore the great details of Mt. Fuji

The entrance to the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

Seasonal themes dominate the kimono collection. Fittingly, the artist captures the essential qualities of Mt. Fuji  in great detail with designs that depict the sacred mountain throughout the seasons.

The collection’s highlight is the The Symphony of Light that was designed to be a string of 80 works representing the Four Seasons. The series comprises 36 kimono which highlight the beauty and changes of nature and the universe.

Room with a view

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum in Japan - Breathtaking Kimono Art

The museum and its garden were designed by Kubota himself, and the traditional tearoom is his former workshop. The site has magnificent views of Lake Kawaguchi  and Mt. Fuji . Enjoy matcha tea at the museum’s cafe while viewing the well-appointed garden.

Getting There:

Take an express train from JR Shinjuku Station to JR Otsuki Station on the JR Chuo Line (about an hour). Change to the privately-run Fuji Kyuko Line for Kawaguchiko Station (JR Rail Pass not accepted). The express train, Fujisan Tokkyu, takes just 45 minutes, but the regular train takes about an hour to reach Kawaguchiko Station. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Kawaguchiko Station from JR Shin-Fuji Station (2 hours and 15 minutes) or JR Mishima Station (1.5 hours), which are both on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. You can also get to Kawaguchiko Station via bus from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal in just under 2 hours. Once you arrive at Kawaguchiko Station, you can board the Kawaguchiko Retro Bus to get to the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum.