Visiting The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan was the highlight of my recent visit in Japan. There are two Noguchi museums in the world: one in Long Island City, New York and one in Mure, Japan. The one in Japan is located in Mure in Kagawa prefecture on the island of Shikoku (approximately 330 miles from Tokyo). The museum opened in 1999 to fulfill Noguchi’s wish that his former studio to be an extension of his museum in New York, that it to be a place to inspire artists and scholars.
The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan preserves 150 sculptures, including many unfinished works. The most unfinished sculptures are located outdoor atelier, inside of the stone circle. The place does not feel like an ordinary museum – there are no name tags on any of individual works. The working atmosphere of Noguchi’s studio is very well preserved that it almost feels like you can expect to see Noguchi himself to walk up at any time.
The indoor sculpture space called “Display Kura” outside of the stone circle contains Noguchi’s sculptures including the Energy Void (1972). The building was originally a sake warehouse from the1880s. It was relocated to this location to house his sculptures, keeping them away from the weather.
The Isamu Ya (Noguchi residence) is located across from his studio. The house is a traditional Japanese style house from the 1760s. Although Noguchi adored the traditional architecture of this house, he enjoyed modern conveniences as well – heated tatami floors! The visitors can only view the interior from the entrance and through the windows. The house is uncluttered and has little furnishing.
There is the Sculpture Garden on the hill behind the Isamu Ya. The view from the hill was magnificent. I could just sit and enjoy the view for hours and hours. Noguchi described this garden as “a song of praise to nature.” He said, “It is a wonderful place to be at, almost anytime… Nature rampant. Then I take a snooze. And a friend comes to visit.”
The day I visited the museum was cold and rainy. There were about 17 people in my tour group and many were complaining about the unfortunate weather situation. I thought the rain was nice, giving the outdoor sculptures a soft feeling and different expressions that can only be seen when the stones were wet. I really enjoyed the rustic scenery where everything was so quite, away from the city disruptions. After everyone had left, I went back a little street towards the studio, just to enjoy the quietness. I closed my eyes and listened the rainfall, imaging the sound of Noguchi working on his sculpture echoing among the hills.