If you like to spend time in art galleries and museums, take a bus to the Aomori Museum of Art (青森県立美術館). The museum that is on the ground of the Sannai Maruyama Special Historical Site (三内丸山遺跡) is one of the top art museums in the northern Tohoku region (another facility that goes hand in hand with it is the Towada Art Center in Towada City).
Three out of the four stage background paintings of the ballet “Aleko” drawn by Marc Chagall are on permanent display (the painting for the 3rd scene is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art).
Other collections in the museum include Japanese, Western, and contemporary artworks, with some having full of the artists’ individualities.
Tip: The museum has coin-operated lockers.
The Concept of the Designs of the Aomori Museum of Art
The museum is a pure white building inspired by the excavation site of the Sannai Maruyama Site next door. The Aomori-born architect Aoki Jun (青木淳) designed the building imaging the trenches of the excavation site, so when you walk around the museum, you will notice that parts of the space suddenly have a low ceiling.
Also, the white wall isn’t flat but uneven, just like how it is on the excavation site! Apparently, around 430,000 white bricks were used to create his uneven surface.
Furthermore, some walls have a space between the wall and the ground, another design replicating the walls inside the Sannai Maruyama Site.
Throughout the museum, you will find that most things are colored in three colors. This applies to the uniforms that the staff wear as well!
The brown color is derived from the excavation site. The green is from the “Ao” (meaning green) of Aomori. Lastly, the white is imaging the white snow that covers the city in cold winter.
On the white wall at the entrance, you might notice some green neon tubes on the wall forming the shape of trees. These marks are a visual version of “Aomori”, which means a forest with green trees. You might also say the marks look like an “A”. That is correct as well. They represent the “A” of Aomori!
The Symbol of Aomori Museum of Art
At the Aomori Museum of Arts, what you can’t miss out on is the spectacular 8.5-meter tall statue – Aomori-ken (あおもり犬), which means the Aomori dog. Don’t just look at it through the window; head out and look!
There is a passage built just for this artwork created by Nara Yoshimoto (奈良美智) that connects you to this large but somewhat cute white dog! To get closer to the dog, take the Aomori-ken Connecting Passage (あおもり犬連絡通路) that will be at your right when you face the dog.
Important: The passage is closed in the snow season.
At the south of the museum in the Hakkakudō (八角堂), a second giant statue called Miss Forest (森の子) is on display in December 2016 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Aomori Museum of Art. The statue in the shape of a little girl is taller than 6 meters. Additionally, like the Aomori dog, the girl’s appearance differs depending on the season, weather, and time of the day.
The museum also has special exhibitions and events taking place regularly. To know what is on, please refer to their website HERE.
Where to Head to if You Get Hungry
The museum also has a cafe called Four Cats (4匹の猫). There are a few light meal options that should be vegetarian-friendly. But as the menu does change over time, when you get there, please utilize the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans article to confirm with the staff.
Important: The curry served in the cafe contains chicken.
Aomori Museum of Art’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information
- For information about the museum’s opening hours and admission fees, please refer to HERE.
- For a visual calendar showing when the museum won’t open, please refer to HERE.
- From JR Aomori Station bus stop no. 6, take Aomori City Bus (青森市営バス) bound for Sannai Maruyama Iseki (三内丸山遺跡) and get off at Kenritsu Bijutsukan-mae (県立美術館前).
- From JR Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅), take Nebutan-gō (ねぶたん号) and get off at Kenritsu Bijutsukan-mae (県立美術館前).
Important: If you are taking a bus, keep an eye on the time as sometimes the gap between two services can be as long as an hour.
Find Out Where Else to Go in Aomori
Aomori City, the capital of Aomori Prefecture, has a wealth of beautiful nature, such as the Hakkōda mountain ranges and Mutsu Bay. Stunning scenery can be adorned throughout the year. In the fall, it is time to find out your favorite kinds of apples!
The city also has a couple of cultural heritages for you to enjoy a different side of Japanese culture.
For more information, please refer to our article on Aomori!