Fabric works are a key part of the Hirayamas' collection, according to Sakae Matsuyama, assistant manager at the museum. Fabrics are a particular favorite for Michiko, who serves as director of the museum and is herself an alumna of her husband's alma mater--what is now Tokyo National University of Fine Arts & Music--while Hirayama himself is more interested in gathering coins.
The art and collection of Ikuo Hirayama
Midori Matsuzawa / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Opened in 2004, the Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum exhibits the private collection built by the 76-year-old artist and his wife, Michiko, over the past four decades. Through visits to the ancient trade routes connecting East Asia and the Mediterranean, the couple have built up a collection of about 9,000 items, from drawings to sculptures and crafts.
Born in the Seto Inland Sea area of Hiroshima Prefecture, the young Hirayama took Buddhism as the main theme for his works, which eventually led him to develop an abiding fascination with the Silk Road--the route along which Buddhism was conveyed from its origins in India.
This was also the road traveled by Xuanzang (602-664), the Chinese priest who made a pilgrimage to India and brought back many holy scriptures. Fascinated in particular by the priest, Hirayama has made more than 140 trips to areas covered by the Silk Road.