Tale of Genji Museum's Continuing PopularityBenefitting from Proximity to World Heritage Sites21 December 2015 - Sightseeing/Events
Marking the 17th anniversary of its opening, the Tale of Genji Museum in Uji, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, is increasingly popular and expecting the number of visitors to exceed two million next year. In addition to its theme based on the timeless classic, the Tale of Genji, its advantageous location, especially its proximity to World Heritage sites, has contributed to its success.
The museum opened in 1998 as a part of the city government's urban development project in association with the Tale of Genji. As it is difficult to convey a concise summary of the novel which is comprised of 54 chapters, the exhibition showcases visually appealing exhibits such as furnishing goods of the Heian period and a model of Hikaru Genji's residence, "Rokujo-in," as well as screening of short films.
As the tale has been translated into more than 30 languages, many foreign tourists visit the museum. As of November, the number of visitors had reached 1,942,000. The museum reached a record high of 204,000 visitors in 2008 due to its major renewal and the millennium of the Tale of Genji. After that, it remained around the 100,000 level annually. Kumiko Nishizawa, the museum director, said, "It is doing well for a publicly-run permanent museum."
One reason for its popularity is its advantageous location. Thanks to its proximity to the World Heritage sites Byodo-in Temple and Ujigami Shrine, it is easy to include the museum in tourist routes. When both the temple and the shrine were under renovation in 2013, the number of visitors fell to the record low of 74,000, excluding the first year.
On travelers' review sites, there are favorable reviews such as "you can enjoy a voluptuous world of the ten chapters of Uji," tempered by some harsher opinions like "I don't think I will visit again." The museum acknowledges that "our challenges are to ensure regular visitors and to encourage people living in Kyoto City to come." The museum is trying ingenious solutions such as inviting students in the third to ninth grades from city schools free of charge during summer vacation, as well as enriching special exhibitions and seminars.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)