23 May 2016

Fukuoka Museum Week 2016

Just over a week ago, I travelled south from Osaka to Fukuokavia the speedy shinkansen  (on the Nozomi service, which means 'hope' apparently). Fukuoka is Kyushu's largest city, and it's a lot hotter down here, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees celsius on a few of the days since I've been here. For this reason, the prospect of visiting air conditioned museums has been very alluring. 

What began as a search simply for somewhere to cool off, has lead to the discovery that Fukuoka actually has a fair bit to offer in terms of art and culture. Luckily, I happened to arrive in the city during Fukuoka Museum Week (14 - 22 May) and so have been to able explore the area's museums at a reduced price. Most of the museums have been offering free entry to their permanent collections, whilst temporary exhibitions remain the same price. I've actually been surprised by the number and variety of museums, and how good they are. If you are interested in art, culture, and history you'll find a few things of interest here. Below are just the museums that I visited, but there were more than 10 venues that participated in Fukuoka Museum Week.

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum
FAAM claims to be the only museum in the world to systematically collect modern and contemporary Asian art. So if you have an interest in Asian art, it is a must-see. They have over 2,800 works from 22 Asian countries and their galleries show rotating exhibitions displaying different items from the collection. They also have a temporary exhibition space. When I visited, the galleries had curated the following three exhibitions from their permanent collection: 

Amazing! So Real! The Art of Likeness

Julie Lluch (Philippines) 'Cutting Onions Always Makes Me Cry' 1998

This exhibition was designed to complement the temporary exhibition of Chinese photorealism in the museum, by displaying lifelike representations of subjects from other Asian countries.

Forests of Meditation

Baet Yeok Kuan (Singapore) 'Fire' 1992

This exhibition displayed a variety of works formed around the concept of meditation, in media such as sculpture, video, collage and painting.

Asia Collection 100

Gregorius Sidharta Soegijo (Indonesia) 'Weeping Goddess' (1977)

This exhibition selected 100 highlights from the museum's permanent collection. All in all the museum was a really worthwhile place to visit, as it gave an interesting insight into the diversity of pieces being produced by artists across Asia.

Hakata Machiya Folk Museum
This museum has both an exhibition space, focusing on the folk history / culture of the area (such as the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival) and a restored townhouse showing the traditional architecture of the area. There is also a workshop where you can observe traditional crafts being made. This museum doesn't unfortunately have a huge amount in terms of English guidance, so I didn't learn as much as I'd hoped; but it's interesting enough to pop in to if you happen to be in the area.

Machiya Hall (restored)

Traditional crafts workshop

Fukuoka City Museum
This was the museum that impressed me the most. Fukuoka City Museum not only has an excellent, comprehensive exhibition on the history of the Fukuoka / Hakata area, from prehistoric times to the present day, it also had a really interesting temporary exhibition when I visited, called Secret Witches. This had a variety of art objects, books, and other items surrounding the history of witchcraft, mainly from collections in Germany and Austria. These ranged from an amulet of a mole's foot (!), to a two-headed cat pickled in a jar, to torture devices and of course a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum. Probably not one for the faint-hearted! I really enjoyed the fact that the exhibition didn't just focus on images of witches but actually had lots of objects relating to this history of witchcraft as well. The last room leant the exhibition a local relevance, focusing on the depiction of witches in contemporary Japanese culture (primarily anime/manga).

Entrance to the Fukuoka City Museum

The 'Secret Witches' exhibition entrance

Fukuoka Art Museum
This is located in the beautiful Ohori Park area, next to the ruins of Fukuoka Castle. The modern art collection has a pretty good range of pieces from artists including Anish Kapoor, Sarah Lucas, David Nash, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali. I particularly liked the sculpture terrace, with views of the city and the park, and a lovely Yayoi Kusama piece.

Sculpture terrace

'Pumpkin' by Yayoi Kusama

That's it for my first post from Fukuoka. I'm staying here until the end of the month, and then moving to Okinawa for the summer. I still have plenty of to say about my experience staying in the Kansai region, so I will continue to post blogs about my time there over the summer (when I can tear myself away from the beach that is).

What kind of museum do you enjoy visiting most? Art / Design? History? Science?


  1. I think there's one of these pumpkins on Naoshima as well

    1. Yes there is, I was just reading about Naoshima the other day. I really want to go now! Maybe I'll have time between leaving Okinawa and returning to Hokkaido. It looks like a triennale is on this year as well (on Naoshima and surrounding islands), so a good year to visit.