Mt Fuji’s Hidden Kimono Museum

It took a while to find, which was more a reflection of my inability to read a map than its hidden location, but the rise of stone stairs to a carved wooden door would indicate that I’d finally found the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum.

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum
Entrance to the garden

Situated in the foothills near the north shore of Lake Kawaguchi overlooking Mt Fuji, is a place worth a visit even if just to see the garden alone.

Outside its walls, amber hues drape over the carved entrance created from multiple doors said to have come from Indian castles. Stepping over the threshold feels invasive like you’re intruding into some Japanese feudal lord’s private garden, but intrude I will!

While pretty all year-round, autumn is when the garden stands out with a profusion of foliage ranging from deep reds through to golden yellow. It’s spectacular!

Gravel paths meander through a small forest filled with purposely-placed rocks, ponds and waterfalls, all meticulously designed by the museum’s namesake, Itchiku Kubota.

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Inside the garden

The Museum Itself

Hidden away up the back of the large garden is the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum. With its Gaudi-esque, Okinawan coral & limestone exterior, it houses a gallery of textiles and art dedicated to the work of celebrated artist, Itchiku Kubota.

Itchiku revived the lost art of Tsujigahana silk dying. He first used to colour fabric, particularly kimonos, in the Muromachi period (1338 – 1573). At the age of 20, he saw a fragment of a textile in the Tsujigahana style at the Tokyo National Museum and decided to devote his life to recreating it.

A number of exhibits of his work are on display including a cavernous, log-supported room lined with kimonos. This creates a panoramic scene of the four seasons and their effect on Mount Fuji.

kimonos at museum
The four seasons of Mt Fuji

In another room, a large, unfinished piece called Symphony of Light. It features 80 kimono depicting Mount Fuji, although only the worked-on pieces are generally shown.

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part of Symphony of Light – Source: Japan-guide.com

A Japanese tea house and cafe are also within the grounds. Here you can relax among the gardens and waterfall. The gift shop also has some amazing souvenirs made with the Tsujigahana technique and includes purses, scarves, jewelry and art.

If you’re visiting during autumn, there is an illuminated tunnel of maple trees leading down to the lake’s edge. There is usually a small festival here with food and entertainment.

Information

Address
2255, Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi
Phone
0555-76-8811
Hours
December – March 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Last admission 4:00 p.m.)

April – November 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Last admission 5:00 p.m.)

Admission Fee
1,300 yen
Notes
From Tokyo:[Rail]1 hour by JR Chuo Main Line limited express from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station, 1 hour from Otsuki Station to Kawaguchiko Station, 15-min by taxi or 25-min by Loop retro bus from Kawaguchiko Station.[Bus]About 1 hour 40-min by Chuo Kosoku(express) Bus Fuji-Goko Line from JR Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station, 15-min by taxi or 25-min by loop retro bus from Kawaguchiko Station.
Directions
From Tokyo:

[Rail] 1 hour by JR Chuo Main Line limited express from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station, 1 hour from Otsuki Station to Kawaguchiko Station, 15-min by taxi or 25-min by Loop retro bus from Kawaguchiko Station.

[Bus] About 1 hour 40-min by Chuo Kosoku(express) Bus Fuji-Goko Line from JR Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station, 15-min by taxi or 25-min by loop retro bus from Kawaguchiko Station.

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