Please welcome Friend of No Award Amanda to Museum Shops of the World.
If there’s one thing the Japanese do well, it’s ridiculous merchandise. And that translates to their museum gift shops (and how!).
I’d long heard of the Yokosuka Museum of Art in Kanagawa – it’s renowned for its architecture and ability to “blend into the sea” (it kind of really does), as well as highlighting contemporary Japanese artists. The gift shop is in two halves – one being in the main building and the other in the separate pavilion dedicated to Taniuchi Rokuro.
The museum is glorious. It’s bright, airy and beautiful to walk around. Gift shops, though? Both look like IKEA displays. I mean, inherently this isn’t bad, but you’d think that they’d spend some time on them, considering the surrounds. Still, there’s a nice mix of museum branded goods, including books, ugly soaps and tea towels (which made my Aussie heart sing); wanky Pantone collaborations; some Kanagawa/Yokohama themed goods (yes, Hello Kitty is there, too) and, strangely, tacky Osaka souvenirs, which stood out like an obnoxiously coloured sore thumb. (It was perhaps a deep commentary on the continuing #TokyoVsOsaka feud. Or commercialism in general. Or a mis-order by the buyers – but who can really be sure in a modern art museum???)
All in all, go. You’ll get to see some wonderful Japanese art and save money because the gift shop is tiny and really, how many Hello Kitty things to you really need?
Location: 4-1 Kamoi, Yokosuka-shi, Kanagawa, Japan 239-0813
Items purchased: The postcards weren’t great quality, which made this panda a little sad, but luckily they had a couple of the art I really liked (Seimiya Naobumi’s woodblock cuts). Also bought a clear file and branded candy inside a postcard for my roommate. Yes, inside a postcard. We have reached critical museum naff mass, people.
Getting There: Look, let’s be honest – it’s kind of an ordeal. Take the Keikyu Line to Maborikaigan Station, where you can stumble around looking for a hidden sign telling you where the bus is (approx. 15 minutes and several swear words). Find the bus, head towards Kannonzaki and get off at the Keikyu Kannonzaki Hotel. Walk a bit, and you’ll see the most beautiful art museum ever and feel justified (and a little proud) in attempting your adventure.
Date and Time Visited: Afternoon, a weekday