Message from Founder

The Hoki Museum, Japan’s first museum dedicated to Realism in contemporary painting, opened on November 3, 2010, in Asumigaoka, Midori Ward, Chiba City. 

In frequent visits to exhibitions and museums, both in Japan and overseas, I have encountered many works of art. I have been fortunate to be able to see with my own eyes, select, and acquire a large group of outstanding examples of Realist painting from Japan. I began by showing my collection to a few close friends. In 2001, I constructed a storage vault and exhibition space adjacent to my home and made the collection available for public viewing once or twice a year. As news of it spread by word of mouth, the crowds grew larger year after year. On a single day, a thousand people would come, passionately eager to see the paintings. It occurred to me that I might open a museum that would make it possible for even more people to encounter the superb qualities of Realist paintings created in Japan, and I began mulling over the idea. 

The architects responded brilliantly to my request for a museum that would inspire those passing by it to feel an unconscious desire to go inside and see what it contains. The building, which was shortlisted for an award at an architectural competition in Spain, includes exhibition space in three levels of long corridors, part of which appears to be floating in space. In 2011, The building was awarded the Japanese Architecture Award. Designed for enjoyment of Realist paintings, it presents masterpieces and the works of young artists in the same space. While the same word, “Realism,” is applied to them all, the artists vary widely in their thinking and technique. The opportunity for comparison that the variety of work on display creates is one of this museum’s attractions. 

In recent years, the number of Realist painters in Japan has been rising. The long-awaited opening of this museum, showcasing gems by artists who paint with such meticulous care and such an investment of time that they can produce no more than four or five paintings per year, is a source of unparalleled joy to me. It has been my dream to create a temple to Realism here in Japan. In this state-of-the-art facility located next to Showa no Mori, Chiba City’s largest park, visitors will find a refreshing, even healing museum in which they can leisurely explore the paintings and enjoy the natural beauty of the wooded landscape that surrounds the museum. I hope that many indeed will visit the museum and thereby contribute to an on-going effort to encourage the further development of realistic art in Japan. 

Masao Hoki / Founder, The Hoki Museum 

Born in Tokyo in 1931. Founded stationery retailer Hoki Meishodo in 1955. Founded and became president of Hoki Recording Paper Marketing, to market paper used for electrocardiogram records, in 1961. The company later changed its name to Hogy in 1970 and to Hogy Medical Co., Ltd., in 1987. Masao Hoki became Chairman of the company in 1993, then resumed the position of President and CEO in 1995. In 2000, Hogy Medical became listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Hoki once again became Chairman in 2005 and has held the title Founder since 2007. He is currently Honorary Chairman. Hogy Medical is the leading supplier of surgical, sterilization, and ward and examination products in Japan.

Aiming to be an Art Museum that Walks Alongside Artists

Three years after my father founded the Hoki Museum, I followed in his footsteps as its director. Looking back over the history of Realist painting, we can see that it traces back to Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century, progresses through artists such as Vermeer and Rembrandt, and continues as part of the history of oil painting through to the present day. Even when abstract painting reached its zenith in Japan in the Post-World War II period, artists such as Noda Hiroshi, Morimoto Sôsuke and others continued to paint Realist works, with many other later painters following in their footsteps. Many of these Japanese Realist painters traveled to Europe for their study of oil painting techniques. 

We might ask, why do painters create Realist paintings amidst today’s advances in digital technology. Realist paintings are based on a foundation of depicting the subject as it is seen, and also incorporate the artist’s own thoughts. One painting might take three months to create, while some take as long as a year. Visitors who view these paintings in the Hoki Museum have the emotional experience of witnessing the thoughts the painter imbedded in the work, the intricately expressive and conceptualizing power unique to that painter. 

Today the Hoki Museum collection includes more than 400 works by about 50 artists, with the majority by artists still active in Japan today. The Museum also commissions artists to paint works on their own preferred theme for inclusion in the collection. In 2013 we held the inaugural Hoki Museum Prize as our way of identifying and encouraging new painters in the Realist style. Applications are accepted from Realist painters worldwide who are under the age of 40 at the time of application. The works shortlisted in this triennial competition are then displayed for a six-month period in the Hoki Museum. 

The museum walks its own path, while the painters too walk theirs. Each of the latest works displayed here represents the creative efforts of each and every painter and will pass through the careful and strict consideration of all of their viewers. I hope that they will become masterworks that speak of the burgeoning development and history of Realist painting. I hope and pray that the Hoki Museum will always walk forward with these painters, helping them create and display works that continually evoke the admiration and wonder of their viewers.

Hiroko Hoki / Director, The Hoki Museum

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