Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lake Kawaguchiko & the Itchiku Kubota Museum

We've really been lucking out with our hotel locations and friendly staff. We arrived at our hotel in Lake Kawaguchiko at nightfall, so we weren't able to fully appreciate the glistening lake and glimpses of Mt. Fuji until this morning.

Our hotel staff served as our personal chauffeurs to the Itchiku Kubota Museum and then back to Lake Kawaguchiko Station to catch our bus to Tokyo, which was really convenient.

When I visited San Diego in December, I caught a glimpse of the Itchiku Kubota kimonos as art exhibit, which traveled there and is currently on display in Canton (the only U.S. destinations). At the exhibit, I read about the artist's museum in Japan that married his kimono art with the natural landscape surrounding Mt. Fuji, and it locked down my desire to plan this trip.

The museum is tucked away on a side road off of Lake Kawaguchiko, which is where we stayed last night. You would never know it was there unless you were looking for it.

Once through the front gate, the spectacular site took my breath away. The museum itself blends into the landscape since it's comprised of stone and 1,000-year-old beams formed to make a pyramid-shape building that resembles Mt. Fuji. There are trails in the back that also are home to sculptures and other works the artist collected.

During our visit, we learned that it takes about one year to create each kimono using the intricate tsujigahana knot tying, dyeing and embroidery technique. Kubota finally perfected the technique at age 60, which is an inspiration to any late-blooming artist.

He dreamed of creating 80 kimono that represented the four seasons and the universe, but he died before completing his task. His family has been continuing to create the kimono from his vision.

We loved how many of the kimono were designed to function as pieces of a larger mosaic design of Mt. Fuji. It's really something to see displayed in person (sorry, no photos were permitted). If you haven't visited the exhibit in Canton, yet, go. It's there until late April.

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