With over 2,000 items, this museum displays works of art and literature from early- to mid-20th-century well known writers, poets and artists who loved Shiga Kogen and Yudanaka Shibu Spas. The museum's unique western-style wooden structure dates back to the mid-1920s and was the former residence of the Shibusawa family. It is worth viewing in its own right.
This folk museum is housed in a structure brought in from neighboring Niigata Prefecture. Dating back to the late Edo Period (circa 1850), the farmhouse structure once belonged to a wealthy farmer in the Niigata town of Matsunoyama - an area famous for heavy snow.
The sturdy, imposing timber framework of 50-centimeter-diameter beams impresses the visitor with what it takes to survive the severe cold and harsh natural environment peculiar to the snow country. On exhibit are folk artifacts mainly associated with snow-country daily life, such as furniture, household effects and daily utensils.
With the theme "An Endless Yearning for Beauty," the museum features a diverse collection of art works that go beyond era and genre. Its diverse exhibits contain the works of Katei Kodama (a native of Yamanouchi Town who specialized in Nanga-style Chinese painting), Roman glass exuding a mysterious brilliance, antique "Kilim" nomadic traditional textiles, Edo-period glass, "Nishiki-e" color prints and daily utensils from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and even snuff bottles.
The museum building itself, designed by world-renowned architect Kisho Kurokawa, is of particular interest.
Utilizing the theme "Interaction between Nature and Humans," this center serves as a source of information on everything pertaining to the natural world of Shiga Kogen. Once armed with this pertinent information, you will find your stroll through Shiga Kogen that much more enjoyable.
This museum is dedicated to Fumiko Hayashi, a popular novelist of the first half of the 20th century well known for "Ukigumo (Floating Clouds)" and other works. The building itself is the renovated home of the Shibakusa family to which Hayashi moved and stayed to avoid the devastation of Tokyo during the Pacific War.
On display here are her own manuscripts, first editions of her works, letters, photographs and other materials. The visitor can view the very room where she worked just as it was those many decades ago.
Kobayashi Issa, a renowned Haiku poet, active from the late 18th to early 19th centuries, frequented Yudanaka spas and sponsored haiku gatherings from time to time.
On display are a collection of Issa's diaries and haiku works handwritten by himself during his later years. There are valuable related materials belonging to Hagiwara Seisensui, a well known scholar in the study of Issa.
Tamamura Honten Co., Ltd., a long-standing saké brewery founded in 1805, founded this art gallery by renovating its century-old brewery. The gallery features a collection of works created by artists associated with Tamamura Honten. Exhibits are changed seasonally. Here Tamamura's renown saké and locally brewed beer can be sampled as well and are available for sale.
This museum displays works of art (paintings and calligraphy) by painters and writers who patronized Kambayashi Onsen hot-spring resort, along with a valuable collection of classic automobiles.
The Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, or Kannon, is highly revered as the guardian of peaceful life. This 25-meter-tall bronze Kannon statue standing on a hill is claimed to be the largest of its kind in Japan and in Asia. It is one of three Buddhist images enshrined here and a tour of all three sacred images is known as the "Tour of Three Deities Guaranteeing Happiness." The visitor can even go inside the huge Kannon statue. (Admission:¥100)
One of the important attractions of the "Tour of Three Deities Guaranteeing Happiness" is this 1.7-meter-tall heavy stone image of Miroku (Maitreya-bodhisattva) that greets the visitor with an ingenuous and gentle countenance. It has been revered since times of old for its miraculous power of bringing large earthquakes and epidemics under control.
Another of the "Three Deities Guaranteeing Happiness" is this image of Jizo (bodhisattva) revered for the wonders of good health, especially as it relates to the healing of women's headaches and lumbago. Somewhere in the days gone by, tobacco was offered to this deity which somehow made this Jizo even more famous. Today the smoke of tobacco offerings can always be seen as it is believed to be an effective form of prayer to help believers quit smoking, to prevent or cure cancer, and to bring good health in general. It is said that the Jizo's divine favor will be amplified even more if it is worshiped together with the other two deities.