For two consecutive weekends, we visited two Museums of Art (MOA) – the first one was the MOA in Atami. Atami is a coastal hot spring resort in Shizuoka prefecture, on the east coast of the Izu Peninsula southwest of Tokyo, Japan. We did our first road trip to Atami for a relaxing marine spa experience, which was simply soothing and downright de-stressing. The second time was on an official invitation to visit the Atami Museum of Art, graciously hosted by their volunteer, Mrs. Majima. As a MOA volunteer from Tokyo, 75 year old Mrs. Majima (who looks not a day older than 50), comes to the Embassy to bring flowers once a week. The Atami MOA’s philosophy is to spread cheer and happiness to all, by offering fresh flowers, be it a single stem or in a small pot. In return, they request you to likewise keep the goodwill going.
The visit to the impressive Museum begins with an exhilarating trip in extensive escalators up to four levels, as the Museum is built along a mountain side. Among the museum’s 3,500 exhibits are three national treasures, significant cultural properties, including paintings, works of calligraphy, sculptures and other crafts. Don’t miss Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” and Hideyoshi’s “Golden Tea Room”.
We were welcomed by MOA Executive Director, Mr. Norihiko Sakamoto who kindly offered the volunteering effort by Mrs. Majima to bring flowers, but this time, to our home. It was a touching and sincere gesture, as he explained in an elegant after-lunch tea, the philosophy of MOA and the purpose of its volunteers. After this heartwarming MOA visit, the sprightly Mrs. Majima, who also plays 18-hole golf regularly along MOA’s rolling grounds, not only acted as sponsor to the MOA visit but also generously hosted us to another relaxing Onsen (hot spring) experience. She brought us to the Resorpia Club’s Onsen baths. We couldn’t ask for a more appropriate day cap to the impressive MOA visit!
The Atami Museum of Art not only inspires with its world class art collection, but its philosophy of sharing the joy of Art and the spirit of volunteerism to the rest of world.
Another recent invitation was from the Mayor of Sakura, to visit the Kawamura Memorial Museum, in Chiba prefecture. Sakura City is located in Chiba prefecture, Japan, 40 kilometers northeast of Tokyo and a mere 15 kilometers from Narita International Airport. This was our third visit to the city; the first was when we attended the Sakura Fireworks Festival last August and the second, the Sakura Jidai Matsuri (historical festival) in April. The affable Mayor Kazuo Warabi accompanied us to a privileged visit to the Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, with a unique design theme “Artwork, Architecture and Nature”, and diverse collection focusing on 20th century art. The Museum building is designed for exhibitions in accordance with the natural environment, within the 30- hectare lush greenery with over 200 trees, 500 plants species and inhabited by many wild birds and insects.
The Museum appeals to visitors with its verdant Nature Trail, free to the public, allowing people from neighboring towns and cities to use it as a place for relaxation, where they can appreciate hundreds of varieties of flowers bloom for each season. While organizing the collection to include Picasso, Braque, Kandinsky, Malevich and Cornell and various special exhibitions, the Kawamura Memorial MOA is focused on providing activities for further understanding of artworks by guests. They offer a School Program for teachers who bring elementary or middle school students for an educational visit. The thrust is more on cultivating the youth about Art and Nature appreciation.
One cannot leave the Kawamura Memorial Museum without being awed by the experience of recognizing the value of Art and Nature at the same time!
Two remarkable Museums of Art – two excellent philosophies for humankind and future generations – the joy of volunteerism, art and nature.