Leisure & Culture #22

Art on Hilltop

Kirishima Open-Air Museum

Written by Linus
Translated by Derek Leung
Photos by Linus

What’s the reason to build a museum at the 700-metre high Kurino Hill?

This is to mix the art and nature together, and turning the museum to be a piece of artwork is probably a reason, too.

It is "Kirishima Open-Air Museum" in Kyushu, Japan. The location is a bit far-off and you can’t reach it until you go along zigzags of a hillside trail after taking a train and the Furusato bus.

Here’s the pleasant view after a long climb: the entire museum area covers a space of ​​13 hectares, with a scatter of 23 art pieces in the open space designed as a grassy park. Along the path and over the meanders of the river, you’ll find some works hidden in the woods that you probably can’t notice until you spend a couple of hours searching them. To be honest, it’s rather a hike than a visit to a museum!

The end of the dark tunnel sees the light over the glass and against a sea of green. It writes on the glass: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Indeed, this is what the designers want to do: every single piece of art is created by the artist who has carried out his field study and taken into account a number of external factors including the terrain, the surrounding plants and the sunlight.

For instance, the 8-metre sculpture "Male/Female" by Jonathan Borofsky from America stands stunningly as a giant on the grass, with interesting shadows of various length in different hours thanks to the movement of the sun.

Who can tell if the giant sculpture standing at the entrance is male or female? You can only tell the ever-changing shadow produced by the rise and fall of the sun merges with nature.

Several wiry iron figures are infused with the thin branches in the woods, which does take you some time to sort out. A mirror with special reflection in the open lawn allows you to see the shady tree in front clearly while you seem half hidden, which implies how trivial human beings are.

This artwork, named "Insiders", features five iron figures in the woods which you can hardly find without a luminous pair of eyes.

All outdoor art pieces can be touched or even played with. The intervention of visitors brings art appreciation to an elevated level and this is why many art critics don’t think art is complete until people interact with it.

With the green of spring and summer, the temptation of autumn and the snowy white of the cold winter, you can wonder different interpretations of the artwork along with the seasonal changes. The beauty of such a place goes to the mix of the earth, the people and the art, without either of which the beauty is never complete.

Can Cinderella put on the giant high heel designed by Yayoi Kusama?
The indoor art hall features different exhibitions of paintings and sculptures from time to time.

It is not only an amusement park, but also a museum of art.

"Kirishima Open-Air Museum" Website: http://open-air-museum.org

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