Day Three – The Miho Museum
My third day’s adventure started with a bus ride up into the Japanese mountains. I discovered the Miho Museum on social media because Louis Vuitton presented their Cruise show there just a few weeks before. The entire setup looked incredible: the museum features super-modern architecture set against a backdrop of pure forest green. Once I found out it was only an hour away from where I was staying in Otsu, it made the top of my list.
To get to the Miho Museum, I crammed into a small bus leaving from Ishiyama station. This is the only way to get to the Miho Museum so get in line early or else you’ll end up riding in the luggage carrier like I did. The ride is about an hour and the views on the way are pretty spectacular. It was nice to get away from the crowds of Kyoto and Fushimi Inari and just take in the atmosphere of summer in Japan. It always feels like something special is right around the corner.
I mentioned in my last post about the magic of Japan, especially in the forest, and the Miho Museum has the same effect. It’s a modern gem tucked away in the middle of nowhere. There are so few people there, too, that it was like stumbling across a secret.
To get to the museum itself, you start at the welcome center and walk through a long aluminum tunnel. The tunnel opens up to to a long bridge overlooking the forest. You’re suspended above the landscape looking out over a valley of trees. The weather was hot while I was there, but everything felt breezier and less congested outside of the city.
The bridge leads to a staircase and into the museum itself. Walking into the main lobby of the Miho Museum was like looking at a real life painting. The windows are framed around the peaks in the distance and a beautiful overhanging tree in the foreground. The building is made up of geometric architecture that casts patterned shadows across the warm limestone floors. The whole place seemed so clean and fresh, completely unfazed by the hot summer weather.
The entire experience of the museum flows into the next – the tunnel, the bridge, the museum, the lobby – they all feel connected into one piece. The museum was a lifelong dream of Mihoko Koyama and it’s obvious the level of care and precision it was created with. The architect, I.M. Pei, created a modern space integrated into the landscape – you can even see another one of his creations, the Bell Tower of Misono, in the distance from the lobby.
The Miho Museum is really hard to capture on camera because it’s a 360 degree experience. Each element of the modern design is stunning on its own, but its amazing to encounter it in conjunction with the landscape. It still feels organic. I think that’s the magic of Japan: the way everything feels both modern and timeless simultaneously. The country is so groundbreaking and futuristic, but it’s also deeply grounded in tradition and history. The Miho Museum encapsulated this sentiment really well.
After eating lunch in the cafe, I grabbed the bus back to Otsu and headed back to Betsy’s for a very special night… Betsy’s birthday!!! I was so excited that my trip lined up with Betsy’s birthday and that I got to celebrate this amazing woman in Japan! We honestly had the best night: grabbed dinner with friends, went to Bar Fuckin’ Skulls for drinks, and smashed cake into people’s faces until the wee hours. What more could you want?
Here are a few photos to commemorate the evening…
I was so touched by how obviously loved Betsy is here in Japan. Her friends all came out to celebrate, got her a cake, and the bartender even made a shirt with her name on it. It made for such a fun night and I was really happy I could be there for her special day. We love you, ya weirdo!
Stay tuned for more Japan posts (I promise I’ll get to them quicker this time) and let me know if you have any awesome travel plans coming up! Would love to hear!