Hosomi Museum

Enjoy an extraordinary day at a museum inviting you to the underground.

Text : Keiko Nakamura


  The Heian-jingu Shrine area is Kyoto’s leading cultural zone. It is famous for the two biggest museums of art, one is National Museum of Modern Arts and the other is Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, but we can’t ignore a museum of art which makes an effort to send a message of art culture a lot in these days. From February to April in 2016, Hosomi Museum held and art exhibition called, “Shunga-ten (old pornography exhibition)” and it was quite huge successful event. Hosomi family flourished in Osaka and made a fortune through a woollen textile business. Hosomi Museum was established in 1998 to exhibit collections of antiquities between Jomon-era and modern art collected by Ryo Hosomi (Kokoan), the first till the third owner, Yoshiyuki Hosomi. They don’t have a permanent exhibition but they hold only planned exhibitions with various themes.

  From 2013 to 2014, the exhibition of ‘Shunga : Sex and pleasure in Japanese art’ at the British Museum became quite popular with words of “World got surprised by a true Japanese culture”. After this, Shunga exhibition was held in Tokyo in 2015. It was a first time to see the superior erotic paintings all together at one place. It became a touring exhibition and it got extremely crowded to see. I was pretty much lucky to have their twitter account having announced when to go or not. I didn’t have to wait and stand in line and able to go inside without any problems.

  I thought that the museum was a small building, but once I went inside and basement, it changed my mind perfectly. 3 stories above ground, 2 stories underground. It feels more spacious because of open ceiling structure. These basements floors were constructed to follow the regulations of cityscape of Kyoto. 3 exhibition rooms on each floor themed by ’Japanese modern art’. Every place was crowded as I expected, but thanks for the high ceiling, I was able to enjoy every room. I saw ’Kinoeno-komatsu’, a woodblock print by Hokusai Katsuhika, famous for the image of ‘Octopus is attacking a woman diver’, and moreover, ‘Utamakura (poetic pillows)’ by Utamaro Kitagawa and other masterpieces are everywhere. Some are very bright like people in Edo era, others are more like graceful and emotional depending on the artists. There is a history that the Daimyo families gave a shunga pictures to their daughters to bring with them when they married in order to wish a prosperity of descendants, and it was interesting to know that the reason why the artist painted women’s kimono very carefully and beautifully is because that kimono fabric shop sponsored the printers. Even though you are not a fan of shunga picture, you definitely enjoy the deep contents. First, I entered to the museum from the ground level, and then ‘enjoyed the art in the exhibition rooms’ and after that ‘went outside and used outdoor stairs to go down’. I did this action twice to get myself into a maze in order to reach the bottom floor. I think I did pretty much well to enjoy the whole museum without being bored.

 I went to the art shop ‘ARTCUBE SHOP’. This shop is referred to MoMA in New York and they have goods for planned exhibition, and also original goods designed by Sekka Kamisaka’s ‘Kingyodamazu’. You are able to go around without any charges as well as ‘CAFÉ CUBE’.

  Once I went out the shop, I saw an open ceiling at the bottom floor. It was a cloudy afternoon, but I saw a sunlight coming down from above. I stopped by a cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee by relaxing at a place which is not outside and even inside, somewhere between.


ADDRESS : 6-3 Okazaki Saishoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)

PHONE : +81(0)75-752-5555

HOURS : 10:00 a.m.(Cafe : 10:30 a.m.) ~ 6:00 p.m.

CLOSED : Monday (If it is a holiday, it will be Tuesday) and a term for preparation of a next exhibition.

WEBSITE : www.emuseum.or.jp