Art and Culture

The works forming the collection of each of the museums include a rich and diverse range of art and crafts from the 17th century until today. This legacy passed down through generations in each of the families embodies the culture and history of the region.

Art

Painting

In addition to many fine works of art from the artistic centers of Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka, the museums also display works by local painters such as Horie Yūsei (1802–1873) whose remarkable technical prowess had deep roots in the region.

picture of Peacock by Maruyama Ōkyo
Peacock by Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795), Courtesy of the Itohara Memorial Museum

Ceramic art

The development of Rakuzan-yaki (17th century onwards) and Fujina-yaki (18th century onwards), the iconic pottery styles of the Izumo region, took place under the influence of ceramic traditions from other regions, such as those of Hagi, Kyoto, and Satsuma ware, as well as Korean pottery produced during the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392).

photo of Six-sided bowl of Fujina-yaki
Six-sided bowl of Fujina-yaki, Courtesy of the Tanabe Museum of Art

Lacquer

Many of the works such as those by Kojima Shikkosai and Nurude-an, are items that were highly prized by Lord Matsudaira Fumai. The Kojima Shikkosai line of lacquerers continues to the present day.

photo of Pining Wind
Pining Wind (Favorite style of Lord Fumai) by Kojima Shikkosai I (1761-1830), Courtesy of the Itohara Memorial Museum

Wood carvings

Wooden works in the museums’ collections show a high degree of technical skill, as with sashimono pieces, a technique that joins wooden parts without using nails, as well as beautiful in-room panels with openwork decorations by Kobayashi Jodei (1753-1813) once prized by Lord Matsudaira Fumai.

photo of Chest box
Chest box for portable tea utensils by Kobayashi Jodei (1753-1813), Courtesy of the Tezen Museum

Folk Art (Mingei)

The collections include works produced by local artisans such as pottery, metalwork, indigo dyed textiles, and lacquerware.

photo of Izumo Folk Crafts Museum
Installation view at the Izumo Folk Crafts Museum

Swords and armors

Among the swords and armors in the collections are those actually used by the families’ ancestors as well as others acquired by members of the families who kept inns reserved for official use (honjin). For those families, the right to bear a sword, as well as a surname (myōji taitō), was a privilege bestowed upon them by the local lord.

photo of sword
Sword known as Sue Seki (late-15th - mid-16th century) and the sword mounting (18th - 19th century), Courtesy of the Tezen Museum

Traditional objects for everyday use

You can see tools and other implements that were used in daily life from the Edo period through to the early Shōwa period.

photo of Hirata Honjin Memorial Museum
Installation view at the Hirata Honjin Memorial Museum

Arts of the tea ceremony

The many examples of tea utensils featured in the museums are a legacy of Lord Matsudaira Fumai’s deep interest for chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony. During tea gatherings many forms of art come into play, including ceramic, lacquer, bamboo, iron casting, scroll painting and calligraphy.

photo of Utensils for tea ceremony
Utensils for tea ceremony, Courtesy of the Tezen Museum

Culture

Izumo-style garden

Izumo-style gardens are characterized in part by their arrangements of millstones (ishiusu) and tanzaku stones (elongated rectangular stones named after the strips of paper used for poetry).

photo of Garden of the Hirata Honjin Memorial Museum
Garden of the Hirata Honjin Memorial Museum

Tatara iron making

Tatara iron making is named for the traditional foot-bellows used to stoke the smelting furnace. Izumo is the only area in Japan where traditional iron production continues to be carried out today.

photo of Tatara iron making
Courtesy of the Historical Museum of Iron

Inn for local lords

During the Edo period (1603-1868), when local lords (daimyō) traveled around their domain with their retinue, they appointed in each town a powerful family that was requested to provide them accommodation in their residence. Serving as official inns, these residences were known as honjin. They were larger than regular residences and displayed refined decoration.

photo of Room reserved for the visiting daimyō
Room reserved for the visiting daimyō at the Hirata Honjin Museum

Izumo Taisha

Izumo Taisha (Izumo Ōyashiro) is one of the most revered and oldest Shinto shrines in the country. As a result, despite its distance from the imperial center, the Izumo region has long been a popular destination for visitors and has cultivated a sophisticated local culture.

photo of Izumo Taisha
Courtesy of Izumo Taisha (Izumo Ōyashiro)

Matsudaira Fumai (1751-1818)

Lord Matsudaira Fumai successfully revived the fortunes of the local domain as its hereditary ruler, or daimyō. He was also an aficionado of chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, and as such furthered the careers of many artisans. He commissioned works of art from some of the most famous craftsmen of his day as well as from local Izumo artisans.

pict of Matsudaira Fumai
Courtesy of the Tezen Museum