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We see beauty at the Asakura Museum of Sculptureprevious pageprevious pagepage 1page 1page 2page 2page 3page 3next pagenext page

Talk with the museum's curator

Published on March 8, 2014

Orchid room
Orchid room or "Ran-no Ma" located at the second floor of the studio wing was set up as a greenhouse for growing Oriental orchids, which was Fumio Asakura's hobby. It is said that many flowerpots of orchids were placed in this room in those days. Also, Fumio Asakura liked cats, and kept as many as 10 cats. Many works on the theme of his cats are left. Since about 10 cat sculptures are constantly exhibited in Ran-no Ma, the room is also called "Room of Cat."

The starting point of Fumio Asakura's creative activities exists here.

Fumio Asakura. The building that is now used as the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, Taito was built as his studio and house in 1935. He had lived in this building for 29 years until his death in 1964. The building is now open to the public as the museum. It was registered as an National Tangible Cultural Property in 2001, and "Former Fumio Asakura's Garden" was designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty in 2008.
Fumio Asakura was born in Oita Prefecture, and studied at Tokyo Fine Arts School (present Tokyo University of the Arts). He was highly evaluated as a sculptor even in his school days, and left behind many sculptures. After his death in 1964, the building was opened to the public as the Asakura Museum of Sculpture in 1967 in accordance with his wishes. In 1986, the control of the museum was transferred to Taito City and renamed "Taito City Asakura Museum of Sculpture, Taito." The museum is based on the distinctive building that was founded with Sculptor Fumio Asakura's ingenuity. The essence of his ingenuity was revealed at the time of the "Restoration and Renovation of Former Fumio Asakura's Garden" that was started from 2009. (continued in the lower column)

"Grave Keeper" (1910), one of his masterpieces, is placed at the entrance of the studio as if it protects the museum. Other masterpieces, including "Statue of Shigenobu Okuma" (1932), of which duplication is placed on the grounds of Waseda University, and "Three Phases" (1950), of which duplication is placed in Ueno Station, are also exhibited.

When he rebuilt his house in Yanaka Tennoji-cho, in which he had lived for nearly 30 years, he wrote the following section titled "Watashi no Atelier," or my studio, in his book "Choso Yoteki," or jottings about sculptures.

  • "It seemed that necessary beams and pillars could not be installed if the studio was built of wood. I decided to build the studio with reinforced concrete because mechanisms that moved sculptures up and down and eliminated a need for me to go up and down ladders when creating sculptures would be necessary. I intended to build the whole studio in a Japanese way without imitating any foreign styles, applying my original ideas. Although I adopted foreign techniques and materials, the studio was built from a draft that I freely handwrote on graph paper. I intentionally overbuilt the studio with an elaborate structure in order to welcome foreign visitors who especially had an interest in Japanese cultures and to open it to visitors in some opportunities when international meetings should be held in an artist's studio. I also thought that the level of Japanese cultures could be elevated in some small way if this kind of studio for sculptures gave a sense of pride to Japanese people. (An excerpt from "Choso Yoteki" in "Watashi no Atelier")

Fumio Asakura's pride can be inferred from the text.

Studio in those days (Asakura Museum of Sculpture, Taito: quoted from a book "Chokoku-kai no Kyosho - World of Fumio Asakura," or a great master in Japan's sculpture world - the world of Fumio Asakura)
A plaster master of Statue of Rentaro Taki (its bronze statue is set up in front of the entrance of Sogakudo of the Former Tokyo Music School that was relocated to the grounds of Ueno Park) is placed in the studio. The right female statue was made into a bronze statue that is now placed on the roof of the former studio, facing to rows of houses in Yanaka.

"Yokko," or sunbath, on the roof of the former studio

"Hogan," or shot put, is also placed on the roof of the studio wing.

Asakura Museum of Sculpture's Website

Asakura Museum of Sculpture,Taito's Website

Another Website Published in 2007

Although the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, Taito had been closed from April 1, 2009, to October, 2013, due to its restoration and renovation, it reopened on October 29, 2013.

Fumio Asakua looks at "Yoku Etari," or good catch, a sculpture on the theme of cats (from "Asakura Choso-kan," a pictorial book)

Grave Keeper (created in 1910)
It is said that "Grave Keeper," which is one of his masterpieces, is modeled on a grave keeper at Tennoji Temple in Yanaka. The sculpture was exhibited at the 4th Bunten exhibition (held on 1920) and won the top honor award. Its plaster master is designated as an Important Cultural Property.[Click the image to see details.]