Garden of Fine Arts

Construction year: 1994
Address: 1-26 Shimogamo Hangi-cho,Sakyo-ku | KYOTO | Japan
Latitude/Longitude: 35.0510099, 135.7652965

Designed by Tadao Ando and completed in 1994, this outdoor museum presents near-life sized reproductions of famous masterpieces on porcelain panels.

The Garden of Fine Arts is seen as an oasis of European ‘taste’ amidst the chaos of Japan’s ancient capital city. The ‘garden’ exploits light, water and the contemporary materials of glass and concrete to evoke the serenity of traditional Japanese architecture. Choice European artworks are transferred to ceramic panels (the most memorable being Monet’s “Waterlillies” brought to life underwater) with two intertwined ramps descending below street level, creating a series of chance encounters between art and the visitor. The gallery can be read as an interpretation of the traditional Japanese stroll garden, where an unfolding journey gradually reveals objects from mythical scenes often in unexpected ways.

There are 8 works in all and include Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” and high priest Toba’s “The Scroll of Frolicking Animals and Humans.” This is the world’s first open-air art garden. Following a gentle slope down to the second-floor basement, you can enjoy the corridor’s unique construction and the sound of rushing water from a large and small waterfall and pond. With the greenery of the nearby botanical garden in view you’ll feel as if you have been dropped in the center of a deep wood.

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