It was located on a top of a hill in the suburb of Ueda City, which was surrounded with mountains all around. The building was 50 ft or so away from the parking lot. Only several cars have parked there. Surprisingly, some of them were from Saitama or Kanagawa, almost of the same distance from my home. This may mean it was not very popular among people but still attracted some people not only in the local area but from many places in the country.
This seemed to be a monument of the young painters dead in WWII. Their names were engraved on a palette shaped stone at a corner of the museum.
The building of the museum was like a church. Not gorgeous but sound and steady appearance.
It was forbidden to take photo of the works and letters etc displayed inside. The pamphlet is as follows;
It was dark inside and the pictures and letters were shed light. No noise nor talks. A dosen of people were looking at the works there. They were watching them intently without speaking anything.
Most works were rather small but sure attracted our eyes. One of nudes was captioned as the model had been the painter's wife and the painter had told he would go on painting it for another 5 or 10 minutes. He was urged to go to war when finishing painting his that very last work and never came back home.
Watching each work, I noticed tears had dropped from my eyes, imagining how regrettable the young painters were leaving their artistic activities and dying away from their families. Most of them were killed within the last 2 years of the war. Some of them were dead due to illnesses in the war. I remembered among 3 million people, soldiers or civilians, killed in the war, more than half of them have died due to illnesses or malnutrition. The nation would treat us in this way once war started.
Staying quiet there, this museum was much more eloquent against war than any demonstration or any abstract discussion protesting war, I thought. And I believe there were even more talented young people in Asia/Pacific area and in the US/allied countries who had been killed by the invasion of the military of our country in WWII. We should never forget of that fact as well.
Mugonkan stands for a museum without speech. The works and the records of the young painters themselves would move you without any political address or agitation. I thought it was how they had named this museum. In my view, this museum should be called a museum of silent palette. The palettes which won't be used any longer would appeal by themselves what those young people wanted to do.
On the way back home, I have gone through the concourse before the railway station of Ueda. It was the place where I and company of med school took off a train and tool a bus to a hospital in the mountain area. We have had summer holiday training at that hospital for a few days. Over 40 years ago. Most of us are retiring or have retired from profession. I could not help but remembering what has happened to me in that period. Now I have finished my career as a doctor.
It has undergone a big change since that time. There was still a kind of atmosphere we had had in our medical student days.
It deserved making this trip even though it was a bit tough one for me. Purchasing some souvenirs to my wife, I headed home on the high way. Sun was already sinking.