Art & Chocolate: Okada Museum’s In-House Chocolatier Unveils Fifth Collection
Okada Museum Chocolate: “Fukui Kotaro’s Wind/Time” HSG ©︎ FUKUI
A yuzukosho-like flavor fills my mouth along with the chocolate. The fragrance has a pleasant greenness to it. Naoki Miura, master chocolatier of the Okada Museum Chocolate series, informs me that I have just tried a new creation blending chocolate with green yuzu and wasabi. Miura’s work is often unique in its inventiveness, but this was a truly remarkable taste! And printed on it was the belly of Raijin, god of thunder...
Located in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, the Okada Museum of Art has a superb collection that includes everything from Japanese ukiyo-e prints to porcelain from mainland Asia. At any given time, around 450 pieces are on display. It has attracted attention for its acquisition of pieces long thought lost, like Utamaro Kitagawa’s Fukagawa in the Snow and Jakuchu Ito’s Peacock and Phoenix.
And each year it adds a new item to its range of chocolate featuring pieces from its collection. This is the fifth year of that tradition, so the range is growing like the museum’s collection itself. For those who love both art and chocolate, these are the ideal way to indulge both hobbies at once.
Okada Museum Chocolate: “Fukui Kotaro’s Wind/Time”
I visited Miura at his workshop not long after this year’s creations were finalized. The workshop was busy creating chocolate showcasing pieces in the Museum’s current exhibition. Every piece is prepared completely by hand.
Miura helpfully sliced eight of this year’s new chocolates in half for me and placed them on the table for me to see them in cross-section. These were the yuzu and wasabi chocolates I tasted, with designs are drawn from Wind/Time, the museum’s enormous wall mural. Other flavors included sour cream and plum and a range of other combinations you won’t find anywhere else.
Wind/Time was a revival by Japanese artist Kotaro Fukui of the “God of Wind, God of Thunder” paintings famously produced since the Edo period by Rinpa school artists like Sotatsu Tawaraya, Korin Ogata, and Hoitsu Sakai. The gods appear as oni (Japanese ogres) at either end of the picture, and the passage of the roughly four centuries since the first “God of Wind, God of Thunder” picture is painted into the mural. The piece is 12 meters by 30 meters in all, made of 640 individual panels, and took roughly five years to complete. Visitors to the Okada Museum of Art’s Footbath Cafe can also enjoy it as they soak their feet.
The first Okada Museum Chocolate piece, “Korin’s Chrysanthemums,” was based on the famous folding screens in the museum’s collection. Together, the two works made a deep impression on me.
Okada Museum Chocolate: “Korin’s Chrysanthemums”
The original Chrysanthemums by Korin Ogata is a set of two six-panel screens with the flowers drawn in bright green and white on a gold field. Throughout the Rinpa school’s history, the work has been considered a masterpiece and the most beautiful depiction of chrysanthemums, making it a particularly striking part of the museum’s collection.
According to the museum director, Tadashi Kobayashi, the flowers are painted in layers of white pigment made from shells, and this is clearly visible at close range. The name “Rinpa” literally means “Rin school,” referring to Korin Ogata with a character from his name. It was applied only in modern times, and the school is also known as the “Korin school.” The many works of the Rinpa school crystallize the sensibilities and aesthetics cultivated by the Japanese in harmony with nature since ancient times.
Being able to go through the museum with its director as a guide was quite a stroke of luck, since he showed me all kinds of details that I might otherwise overlook.
In the Okada Museum of Art chocolate workshop, by special invitation.
With Okada Museum Chocolate master chocolatier, Naoki Miura (right).
“Korin’s Chrysanthemums” used an area in the middle of the left folding screen as its motif and incorporated a range of traditional Japanese flavors: matsutake mushrooms and pumpkin, with shochu and chrysanthemum tea as an accent; wasanbon and walnut; anno yams and saffron; yuzu and Mascarpone cheese; and the wagashi-like combination of Uji matcha and black beans. You might call these flavors the starting point of the Okada Museum Chocolate collection, and I heartily recommend anyone try them along with Miura’s newer creations.
This October, the Okada Museum of Art celebrated its fifth anniversary. It is currently celebrating with an “All-Stars of the Okada Collection” exhibition to run until March 30, 2019. The five-year mark also seems like an excellent time to sample the full range of chocolate that Miura and his workshop have produced so far!
Text © Mika Ogura 2018
Mika Ogura - Essayist, Food Culture Researcher
Returned to Japan after more than ten years living in Paris. In 2008, she was recognized for more than a decade of work as a writer with the Distinguished Service Press Award by Atout France’s Paris Tourism Office. Member of the Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat, a French chocolate-lovers’ association. Publications include All About the Finest Chocolate (Kokyu Shokora no Subete), I Love Chocolate! (Shokora ga Daisuki!), Alain Ducasse: Banquets with an Evolving Chef (Alain Ducasse: Shinka suru Shefu no Kyoen), and Paris on Foot: Mika’s Guide to Paris (Pari o Aruite: Mika no Pari Annai).
● Okada Museum Chocolate: “Fukui Kotaro’s Wind/Time”
HSG ©︎ Fukui
4,800 JPY (including tax)
● Okada Museum Chocolate: “Korin’s Chrysanthemums”
2,800 JPY (including tax)
Okada Museum of Art
Address: Kowakudani 493-1, Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone, Kanagawa
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Shopping permitted without museum visit.