Tuesday, April 7, 2009
This is one of my favorite museums in all of Japan. The setting, landscaping and water-scaping, architecture, artworks, and even the lunches in the cafe are all excellent, and yet the place is empty most days.
It's only a few kilometers from where I live, and I drove by it hundreds of times and never went in, presuming it to be overpriced and boring like so many provincial museums.
When I finally made it in I was gobsmacked and have been back many times since.
The museums proper name is Museum 104 (104 degrees being the angle between the 2 hydrogen atoms in a water molecule.... but you knew that already!), but it is known as Mizunokuni, Waterland, and as might be guessed it focusses on the art, and science, of water.
The museum was dersigned by Takano Hiroyuki, and opened in 1997. The main building is meant to represent Noah's Ark resting on Mount Ararat, but to me it looks more like a bridge.
Inside the main building is an interactive area where visitors can explore the properties of water, actually a lot of fun. There is also a lot of art whose relationship to water is tenuous, but interesting anyway.
Mizunokuni is open from 9 to 5, Thur through Mon, entrance 400yen for adults, 200yen for kids.
You can be almost guaranteed to have the place to yourselves if you visit.
Mizunokuni is located on Rte 261 along the Gonokawa River, about 25 kilometres upstream from Gotsu. There is a Jr station about 2k away at Shikaga.