Kusakabe Mingeikan (Takayama), Traditional room in the residence

Kusakabe Mingeikan

Folk Art Museum in Takayama

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Kusakabe Mingeikan is Takayama’s folk arts museum and it is located in the Japanese Alps. Authentic artworks and daily life items are displayed in an old, Japanese middle-class, traditional house.

A well-know place in Takayama among foreign tourists, the Kusakabe Traditional House is the property of a Edo period (1603 - 1868) merchants family, whose wealth was acquired acting as financial intermediary for the Tokugawa shogunate. The residence was built a few years after the end of the period, in 1879, during the Meiji Era (1868 - 1912) characterized by the restoration of the imperial power and Japan’s opening to Western influences. In 1966, the traditional house is converted into a folk arts museum (mingei-kan) under the guidance of Reiichi Kusakabe who was interested in the Mingei movement that was trending at the time in Japan.

Luxurious traditional architecture

The architecture and interior layout are those of a luxury residence, with an upper floor and several small inner gardens. The ground floor offers a fairly high main living room, allowing for a seemingly endless intrication of dark beams at the ceiling.

On the floor, the traditional irori central hearth is a convivial gathering place for cooking and chatting around the fire 🔥 for family members or guests. A Buddhist altar butsuden is the highlight of the large room, as well as a small Shinto shrine slightly concealed above. Then, the night space is organized into several tatami rooms that are pleasantly and seamlessly laid out around the inner gardens.

At the upper floor, on the other hand, volumes are a lot smaller and the tallest visitors will have to bend their back to avoid hitting their head. A collection of old braziers and an ancient blue wedding kimono 👘 are on display at the 2nd floor.

Kusakabe Mingeikan (Takayama), Inside view of the residence and its inner garden

Japanese folklore-themed exhibitions and events

The residence houses an exposition of daily life traditional folk-craft objects, such as:

  • Ancient ceramic wares of the Hida region;
  • Korean earthenware;
  • Hair accessories;
  • Small wooden period furniture; and,
  • Well-preserved lacquer-wares.

The permanent exhibitions are renewed every few years.

The Kusakabe Mingeikan also frequently hosts events to promote Takayama’s arts and traditions. Thus, you may see artistic performances or ephemeral installations when visiting the museum; all temporary attractions that may increase the admission fee. Since August 2023, an English audio-guide is available for those who want to learn more but don’t speak Japanese.

Back to the inner reception courtyard, you can relax at the café arranged in one of the house’s room to drink a hot green tea in winter or a refreshing cold barley tea on ice in summer.

⬇️ Further down this page, discover our visit guide in Kusakabe Mingeikan and around.
By Kanpai Updated on July 05, 2024 Kusakabe Mingeikan