Japanese society today is shifting its priorities from economic activity to an emphasis on more comfortable and enjoyable life-styles. Accordingly,in Fukushima Prefecture,rising numbers of businesses are operating on a five-day workweek,and schools are aIso beginning to adopt the five-day week once a month. With such increases in leisure time and an enhanced standard of income,prefectural residents are engaging more and more in cultural activities.
In response,the prefecture is expanding and improving its cultural facilities,which are rooted in a cultural climate Unique to the locality. The aim is to encourage the local people to take part In various cultural activities through expanded opportunitIes that allow them to learn and enjoy local art,history and tradition.
Fukushima Prefectural. Art Museum and Prefectural Library
Both the Prefectural Art Museum and Prefectural Library were constructed in 1984 at the foot of Mt.Shinobu in Fukushima City. Built side by side on an extensive site,the two facilities,with unique brick exteriors,stand together as popular symbols of Fukushima's cultural endeavor.
In addition to possessing works by such internationally renowned artists as Monet,the outstanding French impressionist,and Andrew Wyeth,a giant in contemporary American painting,the art museum owns a collection of works by such Fukushima-based artists as the late Shoji Sekine,a painter born in Shirakawa City,and Kiyoshi Saito,a wood-block print artist devoted to landscape pictures of the Aizu region. The museum also holds special exhibits of excellent works of art both from Japan and overseas.
Lecture sessions,films and painting classes are offered by the museum on a regular basis for Fukushima residents,so that they can appreciate art as an integral part of their daily lives.
The Prefectural Library owns over 610,000 volumes. With its emphasis on a special section focused on Fukushima's history and culture,the library plays an important role as an information resource for Fukushima residents and researchers alike.
Fukushima Prefectural Museum
The Prefectural Museum was built in 1986 on a site adjacent to Tsurugajo Castle,the symbol of Aizu-Wakamatsu City. The museum's exterior design,featuring a simple black-and-white pattern,was inspired by typical samurai residences.
The spacious museum houses over 4,000 items,comprising a general exhibition section introducing the history of Fukushima Prefecture era by era and a section with exhibits on specific themes.
Besides regularly held special exhibits,the museum contains a hands-on study room,where visitors can experience history as if they were taken back to the past.
Municipal Cultural Facilities
On the municipal level too,the past few years have seen a boom in the construction of uniquely attractive cultural facilities,designed to reflect the history,traditions and culture of each locale. Fine examples are the Fukushima Hall,one of Japan's greatest concert halls,equipped with a pipe organ;the Iwaki City Coal and Fossil Museum,featuring fossils off Futaba-Suzukiryu and other dinosaurs discovered beneath Iwaki City,along with materials related to the Joban Coalfield,which once flourished as the largest coalfield on Japan's main island of Honshu;and the Koriyama City Museum of Art,with its fine collection of British painting.Nestled in serene environments unique to Fukushima,each of these facilities is comparable in size and quality to those in larger population centers and is used by many people both from in and outside the prefecture.