Sengu Museum (Ise)

Ise, Japan. This museum is located on the grounds of one of the important Shinto Shrines of Ise, and serves as an education/cultural center about the Shikinen Sengu ceremonies. Shinto shrines are rebuilt every 20 years, a very involved and ritualized process which takes about 8 years. The Sengu museum is situated on a stunning lake where dance and music are performed on an outdoor stage.

The whole museum is beautifully designed, with a precision that reflects the Shinto tradition itself. My favorite part was a small introductory exhibition room about the cycle of rice, just off one of the narrow, long side hallways.

The room is small, only about 8 feet deep. But the use of extreme horizontal and vertical shapes gives the space an expansive feeling. Two horizontal photos face each other, and because of the tight space, the entry crops the view of these photos, looking in each direction, making them more dramatic.

On either side, matching vertical object vitrines with extreme vertically shaped video monitors.

The room is really cramped. But it has a perfect symmetry and sensitive scaling that makes it feel limitless. Sometimes the "window" effect of cropping is critical, suggesting that there is more "out there".