Miho Museum

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A collection of antiquities housed in a temple of modernism

The Miho Museum is located in the quiet mountains of Shiga, about an hour outside of Kyoto. The museum began life with Mihoko Koyama, one of the wealthiest women in Japan, whose passion was collecting ceremonial pieces used for the Japanese Tea Ceremony. As her collection grew, she followed other interests and added antiquities from Egypt, Japanese silkscreen paintings, Chinese ceramics, and stonework from across Asia. The collection is relatively small, but exquisite.

What makes this museum more than a sum of its parts is the architecture. The museum was designed by I.M. Pei, most famous for the glass-walled pyramid at the Louvre in Paris. The museum entrance is a tunnel bored through a mountain top, followed by a suspension bridge over a deep green gorge—quite literally a transition space that allows visitors to enter a new mindset. Most of the museum is underground, allowing the building to blend into the mountain around it—huge skylights fill the cavernous spaces with natural light. The flowing museum is well curated, and the acres of reserve land surrounding it allows the stunning natural beauty of this place to center the experience.

300 Momodani Tashiro, Shiga-kenraki-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga-ken