5 Tokyo Exhibitions To Visit This Golden Week
Spring Inspiration For All Culture Lovers
Up for a traditional Japanese cup of tea? Fancy a stroll through Paris? Or perhaps Prague is more your thing? Tokyo's art scene has it all — from mesmerizing portraits to avant-garde heavyweights— for those hankering for a little culture and escapism during the holidays — and even after.
It was Picasso who said that the purpose of art is “to wash the dust of daily life off our souls.” While living in Tokyo is an adventure in itself, there’s no doubt that a trip to a gallery can help inspire and invigorate. With Golden Week coming up, this may be the perfect time for you to lose yourself in one of the city’s cool art galleries or museums for some extra spark — you know, for when the holidays are over. From intimate shows in quieter suburbs to blockbuster exhibitions, there’s a whole lot of art in town. So here are five exhibits to get out and see over the holiday — all guaranteed to give you a creative lift.
Behind The Many Popular Faces
Elizabeth Peyton: Still Life At The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
In the depths of downtown Tokyo lies the cultural gem of the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art and its current exhibition, showing the mesmerizing portraits of American artist Elizabeth Peyton, is not to be missed. Sparsely curated, this is the perfect place for a peaceful afternoon spent solo. Enjoy a coffee in the pretty sculpture garden, and become immersed in the thoughtful and striking paintings and drawings of Peyton’s friends and family. You may recognize a few familiar faces too — Peyton’s work includes a number of celebs, artists and writers. The museum also includes a small permanent collection tucked into surprising locations, which is bound to make you smile. It’s worth a visit for the shop alone, crammed full of art-inspired trinkets, books and posters.
- Until Sun, May 7, 2017
- Tue-Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Wed)
- Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, 4-7-25 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku,
- ¥1,100 (general), ¥700 (university), ¥500 (high school)
A Look Into The Slav Epic
Alfons Mucha At The National Art Center Tokyo
One of the Czech Republic's most prolific artists, Alfons Mucha is the star of his own exhibition at the National Art Center, Tokyo. A strong patriot and an influential art nouveau painter, Mucha is renowned for his graphic-style posters from fin-de-siecle Paris. But it’s his later work, “The Slav Epic,” that is the focus of this exhibition — a staggering series of twenty large canvases that depict the history of the Slav people from ancient to modern times. And it’s really something. Dreamlike monumental canvases of deep purples and soft yellows fill the walls, enveloping visitors in fascinating stories with an array of characters and settings. This is the first time these works have been displayed outside of the Czech Republic — don’t miss your chance to be catapulted into these surreal, stunning worlds in Tokyo.
- Until Mon, June 5, 2017
- 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Mon, Wed, Sat & Sun), Until 8 p.m. on Fri.
- The National Art Center, Tokyo 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku
- ¥1,600 (general), ¥1,200 (university), ¥800 (high school)
The Mystery Of Japanese Tea
Chanoyu: The Arts of Tea Ceremony, The Essence of Japan At The Tokyo National Museum
The Chanoyu — The Arts of Tea Ceremony, The Essence of Japan is a unique exhibition that focuses on the history of tea and the tea ceremony, as it developed from the Muromachi era to modern days. The first — and largest — exhibition on tea ceremony held at the Tokyo National Museum since 1980, Chanoyu displays various tea ceremony tools, cups and other rare exhibits, showing how tea was used throughout the history of Japan. The exhibit is a unique opportunity to witness how the tea ceremony has developed over time and why Japan still considers tea one of its most significant cultural assets.
- Until Sun, June 4, 2017
- 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri, Sat & May 3 & 4 until 9 p.m.
- Heiseikan, Tokyo National Museum, 13-9 Uenokoen, Taito-ku
- ¥1,600 (adults), ¥1,200 (university), ¥900 (HS), Free (JHS & under)
A Taste Of Paris
Orsay Nabi At The Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
For a taste of Paris, head to this great little show on loan from the home of French impressionism, the Musée d’Orsay. Focusing on the work of the avant-garde artist group known as the Nabis, the exhibition features paintings, portraits and some sculpture by Bonnard, Vuillard and other French artists of the 1890s. For those in the know, there are some interesting parallels with Japanese art of the period, too. Despite being based in Paris, the group were hugely influenced by traditional Japanese printmaking. From Parisian cafés to colorful interiors, intimate nudes and leafy park scenes, you’ll be transported to urban France in no time — just don’t forget to sample the pâtisserie selection in the ornate Cafe 1894 on your way out.
- Until May 21, 2017
- 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Fri). Closed Mon
- Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 2-6-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
- ¥1,700 (general), ¥1,000 (university), ¥500 (high school)
A Date With The Sculptor
The Regular Exhibit At The Asakura Museum of Sculpture
Although not strictly a temporary exhibition, spring is the perfect time to visit the serene Asakura Museum of Sculpture, a few minutes walk from Nippori station. The former studio and residence of Japanese sculpture Asakura Fumio is now a gorgeous museum with a rooftop garden, courtyard and gallery space, where Asakura’s sculptures are on view. Wander through Asakura’s traditional tatami rooms, which overlook a stunning ornamental pond complete with koi. It’s a strict shoes off policy, but this only adds to the laid back, relaxed feel of this space. The staff all speak English and are happy to regale anecdotes about Asakura and his home. This is a great neighborhood to explore, full of pretty side streets and unusual galleries. For those wanting something more modern, Scai the Bathhouse is a stone’s throw away — or head to the Yanaka cemetery and the scattering of museums and galleries on the Ueno Art Trail.
- Daily except Mon & Thu.
- 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
- Asakura Museum of Sculpture, 7-18-10, Yanaka, Taito-ku