The Adachi Museum of Art was the passion project of local businessman, art collector and garden designer Adachi Zenko (1899-1990). Hoping to enhance the artistic culture of his hometown, he created a place where Japanese aesthetics could be experienced in the form of ceramics, lacquerware, paintings and expansive traditional gardens.
The gardens in particular are the museum’s pride because in 2022, The Journal of Japanese Gardening ranked them as the most beautiful in Japan for their twentieth consecutive year. This ranking compares almost 1,000 gardens, including some located in Kyoto and Tokyo, but still, the Adachi Museum has stood out among all of these.
Living paintings change with the seasons
The Adachi Museum’s Dry Landscape Garden, Moss Garden, White Gravel and Pine Garden, and Pond Garden are considered living paintings because the changing seasons create a unique view every day. Strategically placed walkways throughout the museum lead visitors to the best viewing spot of each landscape’s key features. Koi fish, a mountain waterfall and traditional-style houses are some of the lovely sights that await.
Two cafes and a modern teahouse offer additional places to relax and enjoy the gardens. Menu options in the cafes include coffee, cakes and locally-inspired lunches. Teahouse Juraku-an, on the other hand, serves guests matcha made from water boiled in a gold pot.
In addition to the gardens, the museum displays work from some of the best 19th and 20th century painters in Japan, including Yokoyama Taikan, who revolutionized traditional-style painting techniques. Adachi Zenko acquired many of these works himself and today the museum shares them with the world through rotating exhibits that suit the current season. One does not need to be an expert in Japanese art to enjoy these works inspired by nature and the beauty of everyday life.
Nurturing the next generation
Before visitors leave the museum they pass through the annex building, which houses paintings by emerging contemporary artists. The styles of these works contrast greatly with those of the 19th and 20th century artists in the main exhibits, demonstrating the diversity of Japan’s art scene and hinting at where Japanese art might go in the future.
The route out of the museum also leads through two shops, which sell reproductions of museum paintings, photos of the gardens and more. By taking home a part of the museum, perhaps the creative spirit of visitors themselves will also be nurtured.