• Silvia Forte

The beauty of the kimono - Itchiku Kubota art museum

San, Burning sun (1986) Intensely-burning sunset seen while detained at Siberian labor camp. A moment he rejoiced over life, despite the harsh forced labor.

On a rainy day, despite the gray and cold sky, we discovered a small corner of intense and warm colors, welcome to the Itchiku Kubota art museum.


1. Itchiku Kubota and Tsujigahana

2. Tsujigahana-Dyeing

3. The museum and the tea room

4. Information on where I visited

1. Itchiku Kubota and Tsujigahana
Itchiku Kubota

Itchiku Kubota was born in Kanda, Tokyo, in 1917, where he studied Yuzen under Kiyoshi Kobayashi from the age of 14. His first encounter at 20 with a piece of Tsujigahana from the Muromachi Period at the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno changed his life.

Tsujigahana was a popular pattern dyeing method in the Muromachi to early Edo period. It briefly flourished and suddenly disappeared. Itchiku was fascinated by the mysterious beauty of the cloth.

After much trial and error, aged 60, Itchiku finally discovered a technique that could revive Tsujigahana. He named it “Itchiku Tsujigahana”: a perfect marriage between past and present and as an homage to a historical and much-admired technique.

Following his first solo exhibition in 1977, he held numerous solo exhibitions around the world. His achievements have been highly acclaimed both domestically and overseas, and he received the French "Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters" in 1990 and the "Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Award" award in 1993.

He died on April 26th, 2003 at the age of 85.

2. Tsujigahana-Dyeing

It is a technique of pattern dyeing that uses paint on a tie-dyed base, which was widely used for the common people's "kosode" kimono from the Muromachi era. It reached its zenith in the Azuchi Momoyama era when Tsujigahana silk kimono and haori adorned many warlords and samurai, but it disappeared in the early days of the Edo era. The most likely reason is that it was surpassed by the Yuzen dyeing technique, which can be used to create more finely detailed images. Because it disappeared in such a sudden manner, tsujigahana is referred to as "phantom dyed clothing" or the phantom flower".

3. The museum and the tea room
This portal seems to lead to another world or era

In 1994, dyeing artist, Itchiku Kubota, built the museum in its perfect location with a majestic view of Mt. Fuji and the serene Lake Kawaguchi. The museum permanently exhibits Itchiku Tsujigahana works with the two main themes of "trinity of humans, nature, and art" and "the center of new culture and art". The whole museum, including the garden, buildings, and furnishings, represents "the world of Itchiku".

The main building is a pyramid-shaped structure supported by 16 wooden beams more than 1,000 years old, using a combination of traditional Japanese and Western techniques. "Symphony of Light" the lifework of Itchiku, a series about Mt. Fuji and other works are exhibited.

Utilizing the natural environment, Itchiku designed the garden. Ryukyu limestone, lava of Mt. Fuji, various kinds of trees and spring water produce a unique atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy the seasons: cherry blossoms, azaleas, green trees, and alpine plants in spring and summer, colored leaves in falls, and the sublime Mt. Fuji in winter. How about strolling along the path on the north side of the Main Building?

If you are tired and searching for a quiet place, you can relax and enjoy the beautiful view of the tea room "Itchiku-an", in the back of the exhibition room, where are served green tea and sweets.

Matcha and season wagashi in the unique atmosphere

The room was previously a guest room, if I had the chance I would have stayed there for hours enjoying the tea, the sweetness of the wagashi and the view and the sounds of the garden.

Autumns leaves, it is paint?
4. Information on where I visited

・Place: 2255 Kawaguchi, Fuji Kawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0304 Japan

・Tel: 0555-76-8811

・Admission: 9:30 to 17:30 (April through November) 10:00 to 16:30 (December through March) Admission ends 30 minutes before closing

・Admission fee 1,300 Yen

・Website: http://www.itchiku-museum.com/