Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Miho Museum: The Most Amazing Art Museum in Japan

A hidden gem in Kōka City in Shiga Prefecture is the Miho Museum (ミホ・ミュージアム), buried deep in the mountain at the city’s west. Precisely like the architectural design concept, stepping onto the museum’s ground is like stepping into utopia. While the bus trip from Ishiyama Station takes around an hour, you won’t regret making the trip after seeing its incredibly built buildings and the breathtaking natural scenery!

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Miho Museum’s Layout

The museum is largely divided into two parts. Unlike most museums and galleries, Miho Museum has reception and exhibition areas in separate buildings. The Reception Pavilion is next to the car park, where you purchase the admission ticket and enjoy lunch.

The Museum Building, where the exhibition rooms are located, is at the other end of a 500-meter scenic approach. Along the promenade, cherry trees are planted, making this approach a less-known but breathtaking place to visit from early to mid-April and in November. Even the inside of the tunnel is dyed pink by the natural light reflection!

Beyond the tunnel is a modernly designed suspension bridge leading to the main part of the museum. At first glance from afar, the entrance seems to have a traditional-style gate. But as you get closer to the Museum Building, you will see more contemporary elements!

Miho Museum’s Electric Shuttle Bus and the Free Services Available

If you don’t want to walk 500 meters to travel between the Reception Pavilion and the Museum Building, you can take the Miho Museum’s Electric Shuttle Bus. The services run every 10 to 15 minutes.

During the colder months, a blanket is placed on the chairs in the waiting area (refer to the 3rd photo in the IG post). These blankets are washed regularly. When we used it, it was clean, and it kept us warm while we waited for the next bus.

If it rains, umbrellas are left at each building’s entrance to shelter visitors from the bad weather (refer to the last photo in the IG post). Remember to place the umbrella back on one of the umbrella holders. This allows the next person to utilize this free service and reduce the workload for staff.

Lockers are also available at Miho Museum’s Reception Building. They are located at the back of the reception counter. You can refer to the second-last photo in the Instagram post to see what the lockers look like.

Miho Museum’s Exhibits

Once you are inside the Miho Museum’s Museum Building, you are free to explore the interior of the incredible architecture and the artwork in the museum’s north and south wings. Half of our time at the museum was spent admiring the building’s design and how the architect utilized the natural light to give the building’s interior a different vibe throughout the day!

Around 250 to 300 items out of the 3,000 collections are exhibited in the exhibition space. Apart from the Japanese tea ceremony utensils and traditional Japanese artworks, you will also find paintings and sculptures from Egypt and other parts of Asia, such as China.

For more information on what is on display, please refer to their official website HERE. And HERE is the Miho Museum’s floor map.

Another reason that we recommend the museum is that, unlike many facilities in Kōka, Miho Museum is English-speaker-friendly. An English translation is provided underneath the Japanese descriptions of the exhibits. Moreover, English audio guide machines are available for just 600 yen!

Restaurant Peach Valley (レストラン ピーチバレイ)

Besides the amazingly built architecture and stunning scenery, what we enjoyed the most during our visit to the Miho Museum was its restaurant. The ingredients used at the museum’s restaurant are organic. We also discovered our favorite artwork of the day after our food was served!

Because we got to the restaurant quite late, the vegan Soy Meat Bolognese (大豆ミートのボロネーゼ) was the only light meal choice available. But that is okay for us as we are vegetarians! The vegan sauce had just the right seasoning, and the spaghetti was neither undercooked nor overcooked.

But what we liked the most was MIHO Tofu (MIHOとうふ). They are freshly made at the restaurant every morning. It was one of the best tofu we ever had! Because the tofu had a rather rich taste, only salt was needed to make this side dish perfect. And the salt container and the small spoon were so cute! You can refer to the second photo in the Instagram post for a close-up photo.

Unfortunately, the salt container wasn’t for sale. Otherwise, we would have bought at least a set!

Our only regret was that we didn’t get to try Miho Museum’s rice balls. The vegan dish is popular, so if you want to order it, arrive at the restaurant at least 30 minutes before they take the last order.

When you get to the restaurant, remember to take a number plate from the machine.

Miho Museum’s Opening Hours and Admission Fee

  • The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
    • The last admission is at 4 pm.
    • If Monday is a public holiday, the museum will close on the next business day.
    • You can also refer to the museum’s calendar HERE to ensure that it won’t be closed on the day of your visit.
  • Restaurant Peach Valley is open from 10 am to 4 pm.
    • Light meals are served from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.
    • The last order is taken at 3:30 pm.
  • 1,300 yen for adults
  • 1,000 yen for high school and university students

How to Get to Miho Museum

To get to MIHO MUSEUM, take a train to JR Ishiyama Station (石山駅) and change for Teisan Bus (帝産バス). For more information about the bus service, please refer to HERE.

If you have time, purchase the set ticket at Teisan Bus’s ticket counter. It includes a return bus fare and Miho Museum’s admission ticket (refer to the 2nd – 4th photo in the IG post). When you get off the bus, just put one of the bus tickets into the fare box (the 5th photo in the IG post).

Note that the set ticket isn’t a discount deal. It only saves you time and effort. You can also pay the bus fare in cash when you get off.

Transportation IC cards are not acceptable on the bus. If you don’t have the exact bus fare, insert coins or a note into the money exchange part of the fare box.

Discover Other Fascinating Attractions in Kōka City

Click the photo to find out more about this breathtaking scenery!

Kōka City in Shiga Prefecture is known for its ninja-themed attractions and is the hometown of one of the Six Ancient Kilns in Japan.

Furthermore, there are a couple of hidden gems for cherry blossom and fall foliage hunting. So check out our article on Kōka City and start planning your next trip (=゚ω゚)ノ.

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