The Miho Museum (ミホ ミュージアム) is located near Shigaraki City in the mountainous hills of southern Shiga Prefecture. It was designed by star architect I.M. Pei and holds the private collection of artworks accumulated by Mihoko Koyama and her daughter Hiroko.


In 1970, Mihoko Koyama founded Shinji Shūmeikai (神慈秀明会), a new religion with about 300,000 followers worldwide that "pursues beauty through art, appreciation of nature and natural agriculture." Shumei is based on the teachings of Mokichi Okada (岡田茂吉, 1882-1955), the founder of the World Church of Messianity who used jōrei (浄霊, "purification of spirit") as a method of spiritual healing by "channelling divine light into the body." Hundreds of Shumei followers live and work at the museum.


The entrance of the museum compound


Approach to the museum through a tunnel

The museum was designed by the world-famous American-Asian architect I.M. Pei in 1997, renowned for projects such as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris, the German Historical Museum, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar. I.M. Pei called his design that comprises 17,400 square metres, 75% of which are underground, "Shangri-la." The walls and the floor are made of limestone, while the roof is a glass and steel construction.


A 120-metres-high bridge spans the beautiful valley and leads to the main museum structure.

The museum houses Japanese art in its northern wing and antique artwork from the rest of the world in its southern wing. The permanent exhibition comprises some 2,000 pieces, 250 of which are displayed on rotation. The Japanese exhibits include Buddhist art, scrolls, screens, porcelain and stoneware tea ceremony vessels acquired by Mrs Koyama starting in the 1950s. The southern wing holds artefacts from ancient Egypt, Assyrian reliefs, and a vast collection of objects from Achaemenid Central Asia. All artworks are explained in Japanese and English.


The Miho Museum is open irregularly, only a few months per year with varying dates. Visitors should check their website for details.


Cafe Pine View in the southern wing. The (costly) Peach Valley restaurant at the entrance serves organic vegetarian food.



More images in the Miho Museum gallery:


Access: from JR Kyoto Station via JR Biwako Line to JR Ishiyama Station (every 10-15 minutes; 13 minutes via Special Rapid, 240 JPY); from Ishiyama South Exit via Teisan Bus (50 minutes, 800 JPY); the buses depart at ten minutes past the hours (09:10-13:10, on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays extra buses at 09:50 and 14:10) and return to Ishiyama every full hour (11:00-15:00, 16:07 and 17:14).

Admission: adults 1,300 JPY, university and high school students 1,000 JPY, elementary and junior high school students free (group discounts and discounts for the disabled available).

Address: 300 Momodani; Tashiro Shigaraki Koka; Shiga 529-1814; Phone: 0748-82-3411, fax: 0748-82-3414
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