Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art 平山郁夫美術館

Hirayama Ikuo Museum
Hirayama Ikuo Museum

See the works of Hiroshima's most famous and controversial contemporary artist

Ikuo Hirayama remains the most celebrated contemporary artist painting in the traditional Japanese style known as Nihonga. The Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art offers his greatest works, including series depicting the introduction of Buddhism to Japan; the ancient Silk Road that ran through Turkey, Iraq, Iran and China; and a nuclear bomb victim.

The latter theme was personal, since the artist narrowly escaped death in the atomic blast in Hiroshima , and suffered from radiation sickness throughout his life.

Quick Facts

Hirayama's many awards include Japan's Order of Cultural Merit (1998)

Hirayama collected over 200 artifacts from the ancient Silk Road, including sculptures, silverware and coins

How to Get There

The museum is accessible by bus from JR Onomichi Station.

JR Onomichi Station is an 80-minute train ride from JR Hiroshima Station. Board the local bus from Onomichi Station bound for Setoda Port, which stops in front of the museum along the way. The bus ride takes about an hour.

The museum's three exhibition halls

Although Hirayama passed away in 2009, the museum captures his spirit with a wide selection of the artist's works. The permanent collection displays artwork from throughout his career, and special exhibitions are held on a regular basis.

The museum also has a tea lounge and a small shop where you can buy Hirayama prints and other souvenirs.

Preserving and updating the Nihonga style

Hirayama adopted the Nihonga style of painting for much of his work, a technique common in Japan from 1900 onward that mixes contemporary subjects with traditional methods and materials. While this approach stays true to artistic traditions that have survived in Japan for centuries, it allowed the artists to adopt western techniques such as shading and perspective.

This combination of old and new is also seen in the topics Hirayama explores. From his romanticized depictions of the ancient Silk Road to the harrowing explorations of the modern horror of nuclear war, he approached every painting with intense care and deliberation.

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