Monday, February 19, 2018


Last Friday (Jan 12, 2018) I traveled from Kitakyushu to Kobe and visited Hyogo Art Museum to see a special Hermitage exhibit 3 days before the closing day. This special exhibit is titled "Old Masters from the State Hermitage Museum", the personal collection of Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796), which contributed to the history of the formation of Hermitage itself; had journeyed to 3 cities throughout 2017, Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe since March last year.  Luckily the day I visited Kobe had a sunny sky, although Kitakyushu had some snow, causing partial train delays. 

The location of the Hyogo Art Museum is close to the HAT (learned "Happy Active Town") Kobe at the waterfront and easily commutable by city bus from Sannomiya Station. I was at the museum by11AM and spent almost three full hours without lunch, swept along in the crowds of attentive spectators.  I read the paper reporting Prime Minister of Japan Abe spared 40 minutes of his busy time for Hermitage Exhibits before visiting Vladivostik to meet President Putin of the Russian Federation in September.

I had visited the famous "Hermitage" in Sankt Petersburg (SPB) in 2000, envied by many old San Diego friends of mine.  One of them is Karl, born in Lithuania, whom I met at the San Diego Senior Net Society. He introduced me to his SPB friend Val who speaks English. I emailed Val my itinerary but got no answer. I was prepared to just commute to the Hermitage every day of my 10-day visit.  Val eased my apprehension when he met me at the airport accompanied by his friends, apologizing for his delayed response. His whole family was at Penza Oblast vacationing and fishing, 600 km southeast of Moscow near Volga. Val gave me a basic orientation on how to ride Metros, which helped greatly on my solo SPB trip. He called me every night at my hotel to hear how I fared that day. He took me to Peterhof one day (separate blog coming soon). 

In SPB, Hermitage boasts a collection of 3 million items (of which artwork makes up 15 thousand) including the Winter Palace building, the former residence of Russian emperors. A one-day visit is not enough time to see them all and you should pace yourself with your time and energy.

The 85 pieces of art that comprise this Old Masters exhibit brought over to Japan was just the right bite-sized piece to savor. You can concentrate exclusively on 85 pieces, listening to audio taped guide explanation. You don’t have the luxury to waste this rare chance to see even a small portion of this magnificent collection.

The exhibits were arranged under 6 themes: 1) Italy - Renaissance to Baroque, 2) Flanders - The Age of Baroque Abundance, 3) The Netherlands - The Golden Age of Painting for Citizens, 4) Spain - The Century of God and Saints, 5) France - Baroque Classicism to Rococo, and 6) Germany and England - between Artistic Powers.  Featured Old Masters included Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Brueghal, Cranach, Fragonard, Zurbaran, Murillo, etc. 


rio imamura said...

Rio, you did travel to Kobe to see the Hermitage special! Wonderful. And the year 2000, you were in Sankt Petersburg and visited the Hermitage Palace where the treasury arts are kept and shown. Enjoyed your blog.
Meili Chang, Taichung Taiwan

Chang-san, thank you for your visit. You wrote you visited Houston Art Museum designed by architect Ando.
The Hyogo Prefectural Art Museum in Kobe is also designed by architect Ando. Did you notice? Please see the photo. rio

Al West said...

Riosan, your blogs always stir a memory for me.We
were in SPB 2 years ago and enjoyed it immensily, especially The Hermitage.The native folks were wonderful. Only problem, I couldn't find a restaurant that served real borsht soup like my mother made(mothers family was from Kiev)

rio imamura said...

Hi, Al! Thank you for leaving your message. Yes, I appreciated your SPB photos from your trip. I'm still preparing my SPB travelog, incorporating Pushkin poetry. Glad to know your Ukrainian root. I have a few email friends there. I haven't tried Borscht in SPB. But I enjoyed stroganoff and mini pies and US Mac's.
The best Borscht I had was at a hotel in Banff, Canada. Tamiko and I were snowed in at Lake Louise for 3 days, so Russian cuisine and buffalo beef were great comfort. rio