A museum combining art and natural history
Opened in 1986, Takikawa Art and Natural History Museum houses an art section and a natural history section in a single building.
The art section features permanent exhibition spaces showcasing the works of three artists associated with Takikawa City – Japanese-style painter Eien Iwahashi, Western-style painter Masumi Ichiki and calligrapher Sokyu Ueda.
The natural history section displays skeletal specimens of the Takikawa Sea Cow, which lived in the region five million years ago, and the Tyrannosaurus, which is popular among children, among other exhibits. These artifacts help visitors to learn about the earth’s history through creatures.
Permanent Exhibition in the Art Section:
Three artists associated with Takikawa, including Eien Iwahashi, a well-known Japanese-style painter from Hokkaido
Eien IwahashiBorn in 1903 in Takikawa, Hokkaido, Eien Iwahashi was the eldest son of a Tondenhei farmer-soldier. At the age of 21 he moved to Tokyo to become a painter and actively participated in avant-garde pursuits in relation to Japanese painting in the prewar era, such as helping to establish the Rekitei Bijutsu Kyokai art group.
After World War II, Iwahashi studied painting under Yukihiko Yasuda and published a series of works recognized for their novel sensibilities. He received the 1994 Order of Culture (Japan’s top cultural award) and a variety of other accolades, thereby sealing his reputation as one of Japan’s leading painters. He conveyed the aesthetic of nature on an epic scale and established his own style of painting characterized by profound spirituality and striking images.
Masumi IchikiMasumi Ichiki was born in Takikawa, Hokkaido, in 1903. He studied painting while helping in his family’s apple orchard and made friends with his neighbor, Eien Iwahashi. He moved to Tokyo at the age of 22 and studied at Hongo Art School (Hongo Kaiga Kenkyujo). In 1929, one of his paintings was displayed at the Exhibition of the Imperial Fine Arts Academy for the first time.
In 1944, war forced him to evacuate to his hometown of Ebeotsu, where he painted apple orchards and workers there in a carefree and pleasing style. He also helped to establish the Hokkaido Art Association and the Takikawa Art Association, playing a significant role as an authority in Hokkaido’s Western-style painting circles.
Sokyu UedaSokyu Ueda was born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1899. He moved to Tokyo to become a calligrapher in 1927 and studied under Tenrai Hidai. Based on an awareness of calligraphy as art, he enthusiastically pursued art both in theory and in practice, laying the foundations for what later came to be known as avant-garde calligraphy and the calligraphy of modern poems.
He also established the Keiseikai club and worked to develop the next generation of calligraphers. He further served as a judge at the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition and the Mainichi Shodo (calligraphy) Exhibition. During the last years of his life he produced numerous works in Takikawa – the place he loved the most.
Permanent Exhibition in the Natural History Section:
Giant Takikawa sea cow from five million years ago!
Takikawa Sea Cow
The Takikawa Sea Cow lived in this region five million years ago when Takikawa was still part of the ocean. A fossil of the animal was found in 1980 in the bed of the Sorachi River, which runs through the city. It is thought to have been about eight meters long and weighed four tons. The name sea cow is given for its habit of grazing on algae at the bottom of the sea.
The Takikawa Sea Cow adapted to the region’s cold climate and was characterized by a lack of teeth and extremely degenerated upper limbs. A study published in 1988 identified the animal as an undescribed genus of Hydrodamalis. This valuable fossil was designated as a cultural property of the city and in 1984 as a prefectural natural monument of Hokkaido.
The museum’s exhibition space also displays skeletal specimens of other such creatures, including the Dusisiren Jordani Sea Cow (an ancestor of the Takikawa Sea Cow) and the Steller’s Sea Cow, which was found in 1741 during the Great Northern Expedition of Vitus Bering. The Steller’s Sea Cow became extinct due to indiscriminate fishing.