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MAKING ART AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC

 

I am going to write on the fundamental significance of the recent con struction of our art museum.

As I have repeatedly said, the goal of our work is to help create a world where truth, virtue and beauty are manifested in their perfect forms. Of these three, in order to manifest beauty, I have made an artistic creation — a miniature paradise—which combines natural and man-made beauty in perfect harmony, the like of which I don't believe has ever been made before.

Let me tell you what I aimed at in constructing this art museum. As you know, Japan ha s been rich with numerous fine art objects of which we can be proud before the entire world. Most of these have been in the possession of the privileged classes, kept hidden deep in their homes. Since these homes have never been opened to the public, only a limited number of people have been able to see the art objects. This, in a manner of speak ing, has been a monopoly of art. Such has been the feudalistic way of thinking of many Japanese people up to now.

l have always had a feeling of great regret about this matter, hoping to somehow break down this bad custom and do something to make art generally available; that is, help to exhibit art objects so the public could enjoy and appreciate them. I have always believed that that was the way to make the most of the life force of art, and I have made it my project to do so. Fortunately, thanks to the fact that I am a spiritual leader and that dedicated service is given by our members, the art museum has been completed in a comparatively short period of time. Thus, my long-cherished dream ha s been materialized, and I can hardly contain my joy.

It is true that we can find several private art museums in various parts of J apan . However, the purposes for which they have been built are far different from what I have had in mind. Those people of wealth who collected a large number of art objects regardless of price did so for the purpose of satisfying their own desires, of preserving their wealth, and of fulfi lling their longing for personal recognition. They later incorporated their collections as art museums so the maintenance and safety of their valuable objects could be assured. There are certain government regulations regarding incorporated museums which stipulate the minimum number of days a year art objects should be displayed to the public. To comply wi th the laws and regulations, these private art museums are usually op ened and exhibits are held perfunctorily for a short period in spring and in autumn. Thus, I should say they are of little benefit to the public.

In contrast to this, our museum is always open, except for the three win ter months of December, January and February, when it is closed due to the cold climate of Hakone. This is ideal for the convenience of visitors. T hough grouped in close fashion, there are such rare and outstanding objects that those who are interested in art will want to see them at least once in their lifetime, and we can imagine how great their joy will be. A lso, since the entrance fee is comparatively low, we feel that the museum w ill make quite a contribution to the welfare of society.

Besides the points mentioned above, the museums in Japan ordinarily c ontain more articles of historical or archeological interest than anything e lse, and these are primarily Buddhist in nature, as you all know. Too, the private art museums mainly show Chinese or Western works, so in the true sense there have not been any really Japanese museums before. Ours will make a great contribution to the preservation of important cultural objects which might otherwise be scattered and lost.

The other day, Mr. Asano, Director of the Tokyo National Museum , and Mr. Fujikawa, Director of the General Affairs Department of the Commission for Cultural Properties, came to visit us. They said that this kind of art museum is in accord with all the conditions our government requires most today, that they would voice their approval of our ideas and that they would be happy to assist us in any way. So saying, they encouraged us to make even greater efforts, so we were very much reassured by their remarks.

Let me especially add these few more words in conclusion: In the future, Japan will have more and more sightseeing visitors from abroad and probably almost all of them will stop at Hakone, so they will not miss visiting our art museum. From this point of view, too, the museum will make a great contribution toward the elevation of the position of Japanese culture.

Recently, there have been more and more influential individuals from abroad who have expressed a wish to visit us, including the well-known Professor Langdon Warner. So , I believe the day will not be too far away when the Hakone Museum is widely known throughout the world and is one of the places most frequently visited by tourists when they come to Japan.

This is one of the reasons we are keeping busy improving and expanding our Hakone project in every way —so we will be able to accommodate all those visitors.

 

August 6th, 1952

 

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