Nakamura Junji Art Museum
From the View of Art
The value of the world
Many people might think Kashiwa has no art museum, but they are slightly wrong. Kashiwa has a very personal, privately run art museum, the "Nakamura Junji Art Museum". The director, Nakamura-san, build the museum as a remembrance for his son. Junji, who had down syndrome was a vivid artist, and the museum keeps his art alive. Other artists from within and from outside the city also use the museum to portrait their art, making the museum a place for everyone. Looking at his pictures, we can see the world through Junji's eyes. We can find beauty in otherwise mundane things and by just slightly shifting our point of view, can experience a whole new, beautiful world.
The smell of the earth
The museum's architectures, with its curved and linear elements, make the building itself a work of art. Opening its slightly heavy wooden doors, an earthly smell will let you feel the personality of the place. It reminds me of my grandfather's farm when I was a kid, who grew all kinds of vegetables, especially potatoes (I know it sounds absolutely German). Having been very picky about the woods to use, the construction of the museum took around 3-4 years, which was worth it. One can feel the love Nakamura-san still has for his son, and the love his son had for art.
For my son
When Junji passed away, his father was working as a high school teacher. He retired early, to focus all his energy on the construction and management of the museum, that bears his son's name. Junji, who was very perceptive of colors from a young age, started drawing when in kindergarten. Nowadays, people with down syndrome have an average life expectancy of up to 60 years. However, Junji passed away way too young, when he was still 27 years old. In his show time on earth, he left behind an almost unbelievable amount of over 500 drawings. Looking at Junji's art, one can see the vibrant colors, a look at the world not just through Junji's eyes, but almost through his soul. The museum opened 17 years ago in 2013, and director Nakamura will continue opening its door until his final bit of energy is left. Until then, the museum will continue to project Junji's love for the world out for everyone to see.
The art museum offers special exhibitions from a variety of artists and art, rental gallery space, as well as Junji's artworks.
With my own hands
The taste of something that is made with love in on a different level. This is true for the museum itself, but also for the cafe that is part of it. If you make a reservation, director Nakamura will make hand-made Soba noodles, served at Café Arte in the museum. The delicious hand-made Soba, together with freshly fried Tempura are the perfect combination. As a desert, director Nakamura's wife serves us coffee jelly and freshly brewed tee. Especially cute are the small details that make visiting the Café Arte special. Tee spoons and napkins, even the teacups bear the logo of the museum, also artwork by Junji. Talking to the Nakamura's one can truly relax and enjoy their company.
Café Arte is not just any cafe. The cafe itself is full of remembrances and artworks of Junji. From pictues to the brushed he used for painting. Entering the cafe, the walls are decorated with Junji's art. Warm-colored lights above each picture frame making the room even more colorful. The slight curvature of the walls creates a perception of extra depth. The whole room feels like a big picture.
People visiting the museum are not just people from the area, or from Kashiwa for that matter. The cafe is part of a wider community. People with handicappes or families with similar experiences can feel at home and protected visiting Café Arte. Being open to anyone, the cafe is a base for people to share their experiences, good or bad. Café Arte welcomes all people and gives them a warmhearted feeling of being at home.
The world of art
Artists not only from Kashiwa but also from the surrounding cities use the Nakamura Junji Art Museum for their exhibitions. From drawings to photographs, from sculptures to chinaware, a lot of different art can be found at the museum. When I was visiting, I was in for something really special. A performance of almost lost art. One of director Nakamura's friends is studying the old Japanese art of "Katari", a mixture of storytelling, acting, and singing (I don't know what the real definition will tell me though). He performed "Sakura Sougo Ichidai Kudoki", an old historic tale. Even someone who understands Japanese pretty well (looking at myself), I had to focus to understand what it was about. The first time I ever heard a "Katari", definitely something new.
More than a museum
Being honest, I'm not often going to art museums. But, at this art museum, you'll never know what kind of encounters, what kind of experiences await. The Nakamuras have been the protectors of the place for many many years, and I hope they will be able to continue doing so long into the future. The "Nakamura Junji Art Museum" is a spot to check out, and maybe we'll see each other there.
"Nakamura Junji Art Mueseum"：
- 住所：Kashiwa Ootsugaoka １-４１－５
- Opening Hours：１０：００〜１８：００
- URL: Nakamura Junji Art Museum
Date of coverage: January 25th 2020
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