Tokyo Art Scene: Fashioning the Urban Life
Gleaming Into The Culture Of The City
Three on-going exhibitions in Tokyo teaches us about the cultural and artistic movements stirred by urbanization.
Efficient public transportation, various leisure activities and nightlife are some of the things that make Tokyo such a great urban city to live in. Japan’s capital has become one of the world’s largest megacities in less than a century. Followed by the infrastructural and social changes of urbanization are also cultural shifts. These three on-going exhibits provide an opportunity to learn more about how urban lifestyles are shaped by fashion, shopping and artistic endeavors.
Nothing encompasses urban identity quite as well as fashion. Clothes are a reflection of trends, lifestyle and personal expression. Postwar Britain saw a rise in the pursuit of creative outlets, and standing in the middle is Mary Quant and her fashion empire. Through her boutique Bazaar, Quant birthed trends such as the mini-skirt; her influence persists until today as seen through the manifold of short dresses that line up boutique and fast-fashion store shelves today. The Bunkamura Museum of Art is currently exhibiting a Mary Quant retrospective as a tribute to the fashion icon.
Decorating the exhibition is a collection of clothes and products made by a British designer. Telling the story of Quant’s journey is the array of boxy knee-length dresses, chic berets and collars that line up the gallery. Sets of editorial photographs and advertisements reflect historical trends and increasing interest in shopping.
Quant’s valued affordability in fashion. She believed that clothes could be empowering and an outlet for self-expression and therefore should be accessible. Her adamant views on fashion were what led her to produce designs that were loved by the public. The retrospective exhibition is a comprehensive look at the vital work of Mary Quant and her role in forming the female urban identity in the 1960s.
- Now through Jan. 29, 2023
- Hours: Daily from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. (until 9 P.M. on Fri and Sat)
- The Bunkamura Museum of Art , 2-24-2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo - Map
- ¥1,700 (Adults), ¥1,000 (University and High-school Students), ¥700 (Middle-school students and under)
- 7-minute walk from Shibuya Station
Tucked in the corner of Nihonbashi Takashimaya’s women’s fashion floor is a small gallery. The theme of their current temporary exhibit is the history of department stores in Japan, complete with dioramas and wall murals. The space offers a chance for shoppers to wind down and learn a thing or two.
Takashimaya department store started in 1831 as a second-hand clothes store and has since grown to be a global brand with locations all over Japan and internationally in Singapore, China, Vietnam and Thailand. Their current exhibit unfortunately only provides explanations in Japanese, but a stroll through the building provides an equally exciting learning experience. The Nihonbashi building, erected in 1933, offers a glimpse of the history and culture behind department stores.
The Western-inspired architecture by Teitaro Takashi shows off the flare of the Showa Period. The elevators and stairs, which retain their retro feel, transport visitors back in time. The staff are also suited with uniforms and welcome shoppers with great hospitality. A shopping experience in Takashimaya can give you a peek into Japan’s 20th-century consumerism and its role in the urbanization of Tokyo.
- Now through Feb. 12, 2023
- Wed - Sun from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M.
- Takashimaya Historical Museum Tokyo, Nihonbashi Takashimaya S.C. Main Building 4-5th floor, 2-4-2 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo - Map
- 3-minute walk from Nihonbashi Station, 5-minute walk from Tokyo Station
Standing in the background of many Paris tourist photos is the Arc de Triomphe, one of the city’s historical monuments standing in the center of the city junction. In 2021, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the structure in large fabric and thick red ropes for a temporary art installation. Delve into the process behind “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” in Roppongi’s 21_21 Design Sight through their special exhibition.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude were known for their large-scale art installations often involving environmental or cultural sites. The exhibition is a great opportunity to learn more about the lengthy planning process and the involvement of various partnerships in helping the two artists’ ideas come to life. Showcased throughout the exhibit are dioramas as well as behind the scene reels that highlights the collaborative work between artists, engineers and various other parties.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude had worked on using fabric on other monuments in cities like Berlin and New York. Unfortunately the couple was unable to see the wrapped Parisian monument in all its glory since Jeanne-Claude’s passing in 2009 and Christo’s in 2020. Their work remains as a testament to the boundless scope and integrity of the arts.
- Now through Feb. 12, 2023
- Daily except Tue. from 10 A.M. - 7 P.M. (Entrance until 6:30 p.m.)
- 21_21 Design Sight, Midtown Garden, Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo - Map
- ¥1,200 (General), ¥800 (University students), ¥500 (High-school students), Free (Junior high-school students and under)
- 5-minute walk from Roppongi Station and Nogizaka Station
As we welcome the new year, take a look at these on-going exhibitions in Tokyo that are sure to stimulate your creative brains and rekindle your learning spirit.