A collection from the floating world of Hokusai
The Hokusai Museum is a diverse tribute to the renowned Japanese artist Hokusai Katsushika who visited several times near the end of his life in the charming town of Obuse, about 20 kilometers northeast of Nagano.
The museum’s Hokusai-embellished festival cart ceiling panels are a sight to behold. These intricately decorated panels showcase Hokusai’s artistic talent and are a testament to his mastery of Ukiyo-e, a Japanese genre of painting and woodblock printing that flourished between the late 17th and late 19th centuries.
How to Get There
Getting to Obuse is easy. You can take a half-hour train ride from Nagano City, which is well-connected to major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. From Tokyo, Nagano City is a straight one hour and 20-minute ride on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Once you reach Nagano, you can take the Nagano Electric Railway to Obuse. The museum is just a 12-minute walk from Obuse Station.
The master in Obuse
Hokusai Katsushika was a master of Ukiyo-e, a Japanese genre of painting and woodblock printing. His famous Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji series, which includes the renowned painting of the Great Wave off Kanagawa, is a testament to his talent and influence. Hokusai’s work had a profound impact on Western artists like Monet and Van Gogh.
When Hokusai arrived in Obuse in 1844, he was already one of japan‘s most prominent artists. He was invited by a local merchant, Takai Kozan, to work from his studio annex and create new works. The Hokusai Museum is a treasure trove of his work, featuring woodblock prints, hanging scrolls, and two intricately decorated festival floats, among other things. The museum also displays some of Hokusai’s rare three-dimensional work.
While in Obuse
Obuse is not just home to the Hokusai Museum, but it is also one of Japan’s most scenic small towns. The streets of Obuse are paved with blocks of chestnut wood, creating a charming and nostalgic atmosphere. Taking a slow stroll through the town, you can explore the refurbished townscape’s many shops and cafes.
Obuse is famous for its chestnuts, and you can indulge in various chestnut confectionaries and cakes at the town’s charming cafes. Don’t forget to try the local sake, some of which are still handcrafted in cedar barrels. Masuichi-Ichimura brewery and Matsubaya are popular spots to sample the local sake.
Near the Hokusai Museum, you can also visit the Takai Kozan Memorial Museum. Here, you can view some of Takai Kozan’s own work and explore the historical Yuzenro building, where literati and artists such as Gyosai and Shozan had discussions with Kozan.
Obuse is a town that offers a perfect blend of art, history, and natural beauty. With its picturesque streets, delicious food, and cultural attractions, it is a destination that should not be missed.
Recommended for You
If you are interested in exploring more art and design in Japan, there are other museums and attractions that you might enjoy. The Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo is dedicated to the works of Hokusai and offers a comprehensive collection of his art. Another interesting museum is the 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, also located in Tokyo, which showcases contemporary design and art.
In conclusion, the Hokusai Museum in Obuse is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and anyone interested in Japanese culture. With its extensive collection of Hokusai’s works and its charming location in the scenic town of Obuse, the museum offers a unique and immersive experience. Whether you are a fan of Ukiyo-e or simply appreciate fine art, a visit to the Hokusai Museum is sure to leave a lasting impression. So, make sure to include it in your itinerary when you visit Nagano.
Address And Maps Location:
Obuse 485, Obuse-machi, Kamitakai-gun, Nagano-ken