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The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura opened as the first public museum of modern art in Japan in 1951. Ever since, it has been in constant pursuit of the ideal function of an art museum and played a leading role in this country. We do our best to take a broad view of the era and the world, grasp the needs of the changing society, cherish ties with the local community to which the Museum belongs, find present-day subjects in history, and be sure that the originality and the independence of the Museum do not get lost. With such principles in mind, we have been accumulating experience and exploring further activities.
In 2003, the museum has renamed to The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama as our third building has opened in Hayama. From April 2016, the museum's activities are integrated into two buildings known as The Museum of Modern Art, Hayama and the Kamakura Annex. Each location organizes 4 or 5 exhibitions a year. Besides organizing numerous exhibitions, we also work hard to plan a variety of activity programs for the public to enjoy the Museum in diverse ways. Our aim is to make the Museum a place for everyone to enjoy, feel comfortable, and discover something unexpected.

Greeting from the Director

The Wedge of Modernism

If you were to ask which poet is most closely associated with Hayama, most would probably raise the name of Horiguchi Daigaku (1892–1981). The Hayama Town Library is home to the "Horiguchi Daigaku Collection". Among his early poetry collections, many were designed and illustrated by one of the most famous print artists of the modern era in Japan, Hasegawa Kiyoshi (1891–1980). Early in my career at the museum in Kamakura (1978), both Horiguchi and Hasegawa were still alive, hearing a reference to "Hayama," their faces would immediately come to mind, along with that of the late Japanese painter Yamaguchi Hōshun (1893–1971). One striking individual of exceptional talent, however, should not be forgotten. He is the haiku poet Saitō Sanki (1900–1962), who spent the last years of his life in Horiuchi, Hayama.
    In contrast to the first three artists of the same generation, who awakened as artists at the turn of the century (late Meiji and early Taisho periods) and subsequently established their fame, Saitō Sanki developed his talent in the complex and difficult period between World Wars, in a period where he was at the mercy of history. Free-form. Without haiku’s essential ‘seasonal words’: kigo. Saitō was an avant-garde poet who championed ‘Shinkō haiku (Emerging Haiku)’. Among his works is "Mizu-Makura Gabari To Samui Umi Ga Aru” (lit. Water cushion/ Chomp! / it’s a chilly ocean) (1935), considered a masterpiece. The "chilly ocean" is a delusion stirred by the sound of ice moving in a water pillow on a hospital bed, and far exceeds the limitations of what one would expect from formal seasonal words.
    In the Third Kyoto University Haiku Incident (August 1940), one of a series of cases of suppression of speech against emerging haiku journals and haiku poets between 1940 and 1943, Saitō was suppressed by the government authorities and was even arrested because of his avant-garde nature. Despite this forced hiatus in his haiku work, he deepened his own style in secret, and continued to create even after he moved to his permanent home in Hayama, Japan, in 1956.
    The composition "Hiroshima Ya Tamago Kū Toki Kuchi Hiraku" (lit. Hiroshima/ When you eat a boiled egg/ Open your mouth) (1947), which was inspired by the devastation of postwar Hiroshima. Saitō commented that he composed this poem by imagining the scene in which the skin of the atomic bomb survivors "peeled off" from the heat of the bomb (Based off of "The Story of Sounding the Siren" first appearing in Tenro, December, 1959).
    The awakening of Saitō Sanki as a poet occurred in the midst of modernism in the early Showa period. Here lay the spirit of dadaism, and the wedge of modernism. A peeled egg matches the size of one's own mouth. It sends a shiver that pierces the whole body. What kind of art expression might respond to this shiver? Saitō's haiku continues to pose this question even today.

April 2023
MIZUSAWA Tsutomu, Director

Saitō Sanki at Morito Beach, Hayama. Dec 1961 or 1962. Collection of Kibiji Bungakukan
Saitō Sanki at Morito Beach, Hayama. Dec 1961 or 1962. Collection of Kibiji Literary Museum