Not far from Tokyo’s downtown Nezu subway station you will find the tiny and remarkably charming gallery Maruhi. If you look really well that is. It is almost hidden away in a tiny nearly 100 year old house inside a tiny alley not wide enough for even two people to walk down. When I visited the gallery had an exhibition called Kuronekoten, showing the black cat themed work of nine different artists, from sculptors to kimono weavers. I dare say that Maruhi is Tokyo’s best hidden gallery, and if you are in the area it is well worth a visit. Finding it is part of the fun!
Even if you are not into the art the building itself is nothing short of amazing. It is a very careful restoration of an old 1917 (Taisho-era) pawnshop (hence the large safe!), and quite beautiful inside. My photos do not make it justice.
The next show is a ceramics show running from November 21st to 29th, you can read more about the gallery and the coming shows on their Facebook page here or their homepage here (all in Japanese of course!).
Autumn is here and the red leaves viewing season has started! Japanese love nothing more than the changing of the seasons so they take their autumn tree viewing almost as seriously as with the cherry blossom viewings in the spring. There are even companies organizing commercial bus tours to the best places to see the nature of Japan in its autumn glory! I took these photos at the great Ushiku Daibutsu statue in Ibaraki Prefecture last year.
Although the rooms and buildings of the elegant Kiun-Kaku in central Atami City are nice enough, the gardens that they enclose might be even better. It is visible from most rooms in the complex, and every view is different, so much that sometimes you feel you are looking at a completely different place depending on in which room you are located. It is also possible to go for a stroll in the garden, along the paths provided for visitors, if you want to get closer to it. My favorite part was the retro-styled cafe though, which has one of the best views of the garden, if you are lucky enough to get a seat with a good view!
In the sea-side city of Atami in the western Shizuoka Prefecture one of the best sight seeing spots is without a doubt the refined Kiun-Kaku mansion (起雲閣). The compound has been built and expanded tastefully and gradually from 1919 to the present day, having served as everything from the house built to his mother by a loving son to a high class traditional hotel popular with the elite of Japanese literature. Today the house is a tasteful mix of Japanese, Asian and western styles and motifs, all the building surrounding a very beautiful traditional Japanese garden landscape. It is an easy 20 min walk from the station and the entrance fee is about 500 yen. If you are a fan of traditional housing and Japanese architecture, this is a must visit! More photos to come.