Visiting The Museum of Modern Art Saitama (MOMAS) and Kita Urawa Park
Hello there everyone! This is Jessica, I am a New Zealand born TV personality living in Japan. This is my first article as a Love Saitama Ambassador. This time I had the pleasure of visiting The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama and Kita Urawa Park.
(The entrance to Kita Urawa Park, and the stunning architecture of the MOMAS building)
After hearing good things about The Museum of Modern Art Saitama (or MOMAS for short) from my mother and sister who came to visit me from New Zealand, I thought this would be an amazing chance to go and look at the museum, view their contemporary Japanese art collection and their outdoor art collection too. It turned out to be an excellent way to get to know famous Japanese artists and enjoy Autumn in Saitama at the same time!
MOMAS is about a 30 minute train ride on the Keihin Tohoku Line from either Tokyo or Shinjuku Stations. After you take the West Exit it is a short 3 minute walk till you reach the entrance to Kita Urawa Park where MOMAS itself is also located. Walking towards the museum you will be sure to notice the lush greenery all around you! The park itself is very expansive, has a play area for children, a musical water fountain area and too! But more on those later.
The MOMAS building itself is notable as it was the first art museum the architect Mr Kisho Kurokawa had ever built. Opened in 1982, the shape, and form of the building, and the use of open areas, windows and an atrium help to create a sense of oneness within the park and nature. From within the museum the park and sky are also clearly visible.
I visited on a sunny autumn day and the blue sky, green park and light grey colour of the museum itself make for a very wonderful photo.Heading towards the entrance to MOMAS there is a large MOMAS sign and automatic doors which are buggy and wheelchair friendly.
Tickets to MOMAS are 200 yen with university and high school students costing 100 yen and children of intermediate and middle school age and under, free. The signboard of admission charges is displayed to the left of the information counter as shown in the photo above.
MOMAS displays a collection of fine artwork from contemporary masters you will know (Monet, Picasso, Chagall) as well as contemporary Japanese artists. This collection is changed four times a year meaning even if you visit more than once, there will always be something new and interesting to see. I was really enthralled with Japanese artist Seiju Omoda. Originally from Kawagoe in Saitama he is known as the poetic painter. At MOMAS Omoda’s works are displayed on different fabrics hung from the ceiling in a spacious gallery area which has a relaxing atmosphere.
For an additional entrance fee (payable at the information counter) you will be able to see the special exhibitions which are held at MOMAS five times a year. This time I was lucky enough to see the works of a wonderful artist, Ms. Toeko Tatsuno (A Retrospective 1969 – 2012); On Papers. The admission to this special exhibition was an extra 1100 yen, however the exhibition itself was very large held in a large walk through gallery area. The On Papers exhibition displays approximatly 220 pieces and a substantial part of her artistic career.
<Center: Garden Little Tree by Peter Opsvik, Right foreground: Hill House 1 by Charles Reenie Mackintosh
Link to the chair collection (in Japanese):http://www.pref.spec.ed.jp/momas/?page_id=50>
I also enjoyed the Museum’s special chair collection very much! Changed several times a year, the collection of different chairs from designers from all over the world is just amazing! From the basement floor right up to the 3rd floor of the museum, the colourful and unique chairs are everywhere!
The staff member from the museum informed me that the chairs are all available to be sat on and photographed! My favourite would have to be this large pair of bright red lips below!
More of a sofa, this piece is called Marilyn by Studio 65 the design is very playful and fun.
Part of the Museum building itself, the atrium, runs from the basement floor right to the top floor and has a pyramid shaped glass roof which brings the sun and natural light right into the museum. I loved the symmetry in the atrium and recommend taking a photo in the basement looking up!
It’s a wonderful shot when there is a blue sky outside too.
After looking around the different collections and floors of the museum I was given an Art Touring pamphlet. Only available in Japanese, it takes you on an adventure outside around the park to learn about the other works of art available to see!
Number 13 on the pamphlet is called “Capsule of Nakagin Capsule Tower Building” By the architect that designed MOMAS himself, Kisho Kurokawa in 1972.
Supposedly, he designed several of these capsules and one of them ended up here at MOMAS! With windows on either side you can go right up to the work and look into a very compactly designed room. I found myself imagining what it would be like to live inside one of these capsules!
Considering the work itself is from 1972. I find the interior design and technological components in the room to be very ahead of its time.
Walking along you will come towards a large water feature with fountains. There is another piece of art to one side “It is Breezing” by Kozo Nishino (1988) a wonderful and intricatly made steel saxophone, this piece goes perfectly with the fountain and water area!
The area is well known for its musical fountain which plays (and at night lights up), several times a day, approximatly every two hours from 10am to 8pm. The music changes four times a year to suit the season and each time the fountain will play three songs. I was lucky enough to listen to the musical fountain at 12 o’clock! Looking around me I noticed there were many parents and children having their lunch in the park listening and watching the fountain too.
After enjoying all that MOMAS and Kita Urawa Park had to offer I headed back towards Kita Urawa Station.
In summary, MOMAS and Kita Urawa Park are interesting and wonderful places to visit when you have a few hours spare. I visited in the Autumn on a very sunny day in November and could enjoy the the park and fountain are as well as the Museum itself.
The Museum is suitable for families and children, people with wheelchairs or baby buggies. People with children are recommended to enjoy the outdoor art area to the fullest with the information pamphlet available at the information desk on the first floor.
Access: The Museum of Modern Art Saitama and Kita Urawa Park
Address 9-30-1, Tokiwa, Urawa-ku, Saitama-shi,330-0061, Saitama Prefecture
Opening Hours From10時00分am-5時30分pm (Last admission 5pm), the museum is closed on Mondays (except on national holidays and Saitama Residents’ Day), for New Year’s holiday.
MOMAS Homepage http://www.pref.spec.ed.jp/momas/
I was feeling very hungry after my morning walking around MOMAS and had heard about a wonderful restaurant only an 11 minute train ride away located at Musashi Urawa Station called Trattoria Azzuri.
Opened in 2004, Azzuri has become widely known amongst Saitama locals as having some of the best pizza in the world! The pizza at this restaurant actually won 6th place in a recent world pizza championship! In addition to local advice to visit the restaurant, II had heard and seen on TV that the vegetables and other food stuffs used in Azzuri’s unique menu were grown in Saitama Prefecture! So I was really looking forward to trying their food.
A selection of locally grown produce available for purchase within the restaurant too! (shown in the photo above).
To read more about my experience at Trattoria Azzuri in Musashi Urawa pleaseclick here to read the full article including information on access and opening hours.