JAPAN: Akita (Akarenga-kan Museum )

Japan is a country filled with wonderful and unique museums. One such museum worth visiting when in Akita is the Akarenga-kan Museum which hosts various art exhibitions in addition to exhibiting a number of crafts and historical materials.

What makes this museum unique is that it was once the opulent headquarters of Akita Bank. The building was constructed in 1912 by local architect Naoaki Yamaguchi and served as a functioning bank until 1969. In 1981, on the 100th anniversary of Akita Bank, the building was donated to Akita City who in turn renovated it and reopened it as a museum in 1985.

The building’s exterior is in the Renaissance style and the interior with its colored tiles, white marble staircases, plaster ceilings and archways is of the Baroque style. The huge metal bank vault doors still remain and viewing the building details itself is just as entertaining as viewing the artwork!

There are specific rooms dedicated to the works of Katsuhira Tokushi and Sekiya Shiro.

Katsuhira Tokushi (1907-1971) was a distinguished wood block artist who worked in bold colors depicting scenes of local Akita life and customs. Katsuhira’s studio is also recreated at the museum, displaying his original tools.

Sekiya Shiro (1907-1994) was a metalwork artist who specialized in a fusion technique called hagiawase. The second floor of the building is dedicated to the artist’s masterpieces and a selection of his tools are on display in the Sekiya Shiro Memorial Room.

If you would like to learn more about life in Akita, are interested in architecture or you are simply devoted to appreciating the work of artists from Japan, visiting the Akarenga-kan Museum will satisfy all of these interests. The museum is open from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM and admission is a mere ¥200 which makes visiting all the more enticing.

Address: 3-3-21 Omachi, Akita, 010-0921

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