Shimane Prefecture – Yasugi City

The Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters), Japan’s oldest chronicle, was compiled 1,300 years ago in 712. About one-third of the Kojiki is concerned with the world of mythology, beginning with the birth of Japan, and many of the myths involve Shimane Prefecture.
In commemoration of the 1,300th anniversary of the compilation of the Kojiki, the Japan Myth Expo in Shimane will be held in Shimane Prefecture for 114 days from July 21, 2012. IHCSA Café visited the tourist spots of Izumo Grand Shrine and its vicinity, where the main expo venues will be, as well as Yasugi City and Matsue City, to explore their attractions.

Wonderful Paintings, Wonderful Gardens

Next, departing from the world of myths, I visited Adachi Museum of Art in the city of Yasugi. This museum houses the collection of about 1,500 paintings of the founder, Zenko Adachi (1899-1990), including many modern and contemporary nihonga (Japanese-style paintings). The exhibited works are seasonally changed. The paintings, centered on the works of Taikan Yokoyama (1868-1958), are indeed wonderful, but so also are the museum’s Japanese-style landscape gardens, built passionately by the founder himself in the belief that “a garden is also a work of art.” An American magazine about Japanese gardening has designated the gardens at the Adachi Museum of Art as the best in Japan for nine consecutive years since 2003. They are also introduced in the Michelin Green Guide, which gives them a three-star rating.

     After entering the bright, modern front entrance, I followed the course, and immediately gardens came into view that made me feel as if I were in Kyoto. On the right side of the corridor there is a moss garden, and on the left side there is a quiet tea garden gracefully surrounding a tearoom. Already I felt as if I had entered another world. For a while I let the greenery of the moss and pine trees sooth my eyes.

The spacious dry landscape garden
    Feeling refreshed, I went on to the lobby, where the high glass walls ensure that your view is never obstructed. Outside there is a huge dry landscape garden. I had never seen such a spacious dry landscape garden before and for a while felt completely overwhelmed. I tried standing near the glass window, moving away from it, and sitting down, but for some reason I could not settle. 
The garden just makes you want to keep changing your position.The awe-inspiring feeling of spaciousness does not come just from the garden itself, either. The mountains in the background, centering on Mount Katsuyama, seem to blend wonderfully with the garden scenery. Apparently the owner of the museum has obtained promises from the people who own the surrounding mountains that not a single utility pole should be erected there.

    On the right Mount Kikaku, with its impressive yellowish rock face, looms behind the pine trees. The waterfall flowing down from this mountain was apparently built artificially so as to harmonize with the landscape garden. The founder endeavored to reproduce his beloved world of nihonga in the gardens, putting theory into practice as it were. The resulting delicacy and dynamism are truly awesome.

The landscape gardens reproduce the world of Japanese-style painting.

This cutout makes the garden look just like a hanging scroll.

     Farther along there is a place where visitors are almost automatically stopped in their tracks. It is a scene of the garden framed by a window. Be it a dry landscape garden or a white gravel and pine garden, a sliver cut out in the shape of a window frame or alcove radiates a completely different kind of elegance from that of the overall view. Quite unlike the beauty of the overall garden blending with nature, this scene has the beauty of a painting in which the silhouettes of the trees in the foreground create a special accent and perspective and more emphasis is given to light and shade.

    In the innermost part of Adachi Museum of Art there are two more quite different gardens, which, unlike the other gardens, visitors go outside to admire. On the left side of the course there is a pond garden, where red and gold carp swim around happily in the abundant spring water. This garden is just as soothing as the dry landscape garden or the moss garden, but in a more moisturizing way. It makes you realize that like trees and greenery, water has a healing effect on the soul as well.

The pond garden lubricates the mind.

     Turning right along the course, there is a garden of stones and pine trees set out on white gravel. The white gravel accentuates the pine trees, and the superb arrangement of stones creates a shady atmosphere. It is said that this garden is a recreation of the world depicted in Yokoyama’s masterpiece Hakusa seisho (The Beautiful Pine Beach).

    Finally, after enjoying the sense of liberation that comes with being outdoors and feeling even more the blessings of nature, I went up to the exhibition room on the second floor to enjoy the world of nihonga. The idea of guiding visitors through the gardens first and then into the world of nihonga is superb.

The white gravel and pine garden

Japanese Page →