Taito City Culture Guide Book, Tokyo Japan
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Published on March 25, 2017

Kuroda Memorial Hall (Ueno Park)
The building is faced with striped tiles, which were popular at that time, and Ionic columns are set at the facade on the second floor.

The dawn of modern Western-style painting exists here.

 Seiki Kuroda, the father of modern Western-style painting in Japan, was born in 1866 as a son of Kiyokane Kuroda, a samurai of the Shimazu clan, in Kagoshima Takamibaba (present-day Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture). He was adopted by Kiyotsuna Kuroda, his uncle, and moved to Tokyo in 1871. Although he went to France at the age of 18 to study law, Hosui Yamamoto (1850-1906, a Western-style painter), Gazo Fuji (1853-1917, a Western-style painter) and Tadamasa Hayashi (1853-1906, an art dealer), whom he became acquainted with during his stay in Paris, encouraged him to be a Western-style painter, so he decided to study under Louis-Joseph-Raphael Collin (1850-1916, a painter). He returned home at the age of 27 in 1893, and became an instructor of Western-style painting at the age of 30 at Tokyo Fine Arts School (present-day Tokyo University of the Arts) in 1896. He formed Hakubakai, an art society, in 1896, and was appointed to a professorship at Tokyo Fine Arts School in 1898. His painting style was so-called "plein-air painting," in which the Impressionist-like expression of bright light was incorporated into his paintings. His use of bright colors and plain expression that were not found in Western-style paintings in Japan brought about revolutionary changes in Japanese art circles at that time. (continued in the lower column)

Main Entrance of Kuroda Memorial Hall

Art nouveau-style ornaments are beautifully arranged.

 Kuroda Memorial Hall / Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties was founded as an art institute in 1930 after Kuroda's death in 1924 making use of his bequest. The hall was designed by Architect Shinichiro Okada (1883-1932), and built as an art library and institute following an architectural style at that time at the suggestion of Yukio Yashiro, an art researcher. Now it is run as a facility where Kuroda's achievements and paintings are stored and introduced to the public. Shinichiro Okada was an architect who had a profound knowledge of museum building. He also served as a professor at Tokyo Fine Arts School, and designed the former Tokyo Prefectural Museum and the former Kabukiza Theater. Architectural styles that were popular in 1920s and 1930s are noticeably reflected in the building of Kuroda Memorial Hall. Those styles can be seen in ornaments attached on the exterior and in exhibition rooms.

Front Entrance of Kuroda Memorial Hall

The art nouveau-style ornament attached to the handrail was designed by Yoji Kanazawa (1900-1982) who later became a professor at Tokyo Fine Arts School.

Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924, Courtesy of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)
 Kuroda Memorial Hall was founded as an art institute in 1930 after Kuroda's death in 1924 making use of his bequest. The hall is now under the control of Tokyo National Museum, and run as a museum. It's building was designated as a national tangible cultural asset in 2002. (13-9 Uenokoen, Taito City)

Kuroda Memorial Hall's Website

Although Kuroda Memorial Hall had been closed since April 1, 2012 due to its seismic reinforcement, it reopened in January 2015.