Art & Design
Miho Museum ミホ ミュージアム
Shangri-La for art and architecture lovers
Tucked deep into the forested hills of Koka sits a building clearly embraced by the earth—Miho Museum. Designed by I. M. Pei, the museum showcases incredible art and architecture.
How to Get There
From Kyoto, take the JR Tokaido main line to Ishiyama Station.
Then take Teisan Bus #150, which is clearly marked for the Miho Museum (50 minutes). The bus departs from stop number three, and its destination is clearly marked in both Japanese and English.
About 250 works are displayed at a time
Around three-quarters of the building is carved into the mountain
A spiritual encounter with beauty
The Miho Museum shares the private collection of Mihoko Koyama, after whom it is named. Koyama was a wealthy textile heiress who founded the Shinji Shumeikai religious organization. The tenets of the organization include the pursuit of beauty through art and appreciation of nature, two elements clearly seen here in the Miho Museum.
The evolution of the museum
The iconic architect I. M. Pei agreed to design the museum only after Koyama took his advice to expand her art collection to draw international visitors. The collection was originally mostly implements used for the Japanese tea ceremonies.
To prepare for the museum, Koyama and her daughter embarked on a now-legendary buying spree to gather important works and ancient artifacts from central Asia and the Silk Road.
Architecture as stunning as the work it houses
Pei's design is a masterpiece of ultramodern structures in harmony with nature. The Miho Museum displays some of his signature techniques, like those seen at the Louvre, and shows off his mastery of light, texture, and rich materials.
Pei himself referred to the museum as Shangri-La, and designed it to resemble an earthly paradise. Almost entirely buried within a mountainside, the museum embraces its natural surroundings to breathtaking effect.