Last Updated:Jun 8, 2016

10 Things in Tokyo: May 2016

A short list of events and exhibitions happening in Tokyo and beyond this month.

Fuyuhito Takata - L'Après-midi d'un faune, 2015

What to see this Golden Week Holiday and throughout the month of May.

The 300th Anniversary of His Birth: Jakuchu –5/24‬‬‬
If you’re willing to brave the crowds, Jakuchu Ito’s tricentennial exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum offers up some of Japan’s finest and most iconic paintings. Highlights include rare displays of the Sakayamuni Triad and Colorful Realm of Living Beings, a thirty-piece series filled with colorful creatures that gorgeously fly, strut, crawl, and swim across their scrolls in ways vividly alive and often, amusingly modern. English audio guides are a nice addition to the show.

The Feast of the Goddesses: Selections From the Hara Museum Collection –6/26
Hara Museum Arc in Gunma Prefecture makes a great two or three-day getaway. Situated next to hot spring and a family friendly ranch with animals, the Tokyo Hara Museum’s country annex is now exhibiting paintings, photography, and other works of contemporary Japanese art depicting or by women. Yayoi Kusama, Toeko Tatsuno, Miwa Yanagi, and Nobuyoshi Araki are among the creators in this notable collection. (MuPon).

Hidden Treasures From the National Museum, Kabul –6/19
While war ravaged both Afghanistan and its national museum, some of its greatest Silk Road masterpieces survived thanks to the heroic efforts of the museum staff, who risked their lives to smuggle out many of the most precious works, keeping them hidden for more than a decade. Gold and turquois jewelry, ancient Greek statues, and religious carvings dating back to B.C. times proudly speak for the Kabul museum’s motto, “A nation stays alive when its culture does.”

Tokyo University of the Arts’ museum is also showing items it is currently holding for safekeeping, among them fragments from a mural at the Taliban-destroyed Bamiyan Buddhas and its life-sized reproduction.

Seiichi Motohashi “Sense of Place” –7/5
The photographer and filmmaker Seiichi Motohashi unflinchingly documents coalmines, circuses, train stations, slaughterhouses, and other domains of backbreaking and often dark human endeavor. He has won some of Japan’s most prestigious photography prizes, including the Ken Domon Award, and received worldwide attention for works such as Nadya’s Village, a film and photo book about families in a village living through the aftermath of Chernobyl. You can see his half-century of work (including previously unreleased images) at the Izu Photo Museum, part of the Clematis no Oka garden and cultural complex roughly two hours from Tokyo. (MuPon).

3331 Art Fair: Various Collectors Prizes 5/11–5/15
If you’re looking to purchase your first work, add to your collection, or just revel in the creativity of emerging artists to watch out for, head to the Various Collectors Prizes show. This art fair with a fresh lineup of diverse and radical work from alternative spaces returns for its third year to elementary school-turned community and creative space 3331 Arts Chiyoda, this time with a special tribute to the late installation artist Fumiko Kobayashi.

Tatsumi Orimoto “Art x Life” – Kawasaki City Museum -7/03
Tatsumi Orimoto has long been a unique force of the Japanese art scene with a practice which has refused all trends and stuck to its own trailblazing path. Having studied in California and spent time in New York Orimoto came to follow his distinct expression as the “Bread Man”, traveling across Asia and creating ‘communication art’ by tying a mound of baguettes to his face and that of others, an act which liberates the wearer through a given anonymity, whilst recalling the biblical connotations of the bread as a sacrificed body. Coming to significant international attention through his participation in the 49th Venice Biennale(2001) Orimoto has in recent years come to center his practice around his role as a care-giver for his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Drawing on a remarkable creative resourcefulness he utilizes his art practice as a means of communicating with his mother whilst also speaking of a universal concern with filial relations and the ageing body and mind.(MuPon).

Fuyuhiko Takata ”Storytelling” Kodama Gallery Tokyo – 5/21
From a giant phallus shaped in the form of Japan to over-sized floating heads of politicians, celebrities and historical figures, the work of Fuyuhiko Takata is unashamed in its viscerality, combining a dark humor with an aggressive play upon the perception of the body and the powers it is subservient to. With epic productions of the distinctly DIY kind, Takata succeeds in bringing us uncomfortably close to our own masochistic desires and twisted vision of the world around us. In this exhibition he features a golden maiden filled homage to Russian ballet dancer and choreographer Nijinsky, a blood splattering mermaid and Rorschach test emulating buttocks.

Shizuru Otaka with Takayuki Fujimoto: Art Museum in the Dark – Ichihara Lakeside Museum -5/08
In a collaboration between the waves of sound and light the Ichihara Lakeside Museum is host to a striking installation of resonant illumination which brings together the vocal talent of singer and voice actress Shizuru Okata, with the dynamic lighting artist Takayuki Fujimoto. Taking on the 8m high atrium the two have transformed the space into an interactive, ever shifting play of light and shadow, and the moving notes of human voice. There is also a chance to catch a gallery tour on 7th May and a concert on 8th May. See the website for further details. (MuPon).

The Kawabata Yasunari Collection: His Passion for Fine Arts – Tokyo Station Gallery -6/19
Starting out in his career in the early 1920s, a time of transformation in Europe and Japan, the writer and novelist Yasunari Kawabata came to straddle across different worlds, fusing a profound concern for the traditions of art and craft with a prolific curiosity for the new age of modern and contemporary art. Whilst holding an “art for art’s sake sentiment, influenced by the experimental movements of the day, Kawabata also articulated a keen sense of perception upon human nature and the structures of society. This exhibition draws together his collection of art ranging from Jomon era clay figures to the modern masters of Matisse and Chagall, revealing the wide embracing vision of this literary icon. (MuPon).

Spiral Independent Creators Festival 17 (SICF17) – Spiral -5/01-5/04
With 100 creators brought together over four days the Spiral Independent Creators Festival SICF 17 offers the most innovative and stimulating array of work from young creatives, as selected by the likes of Yokohama Art Museum’s Eriko Kimura and Yoshie Kurisu of Slow Label. As visitors make their way around the maze of booths boasting a vibrant mix of art and design expressions, they also have the chance to express their own agency in selecting their favorite works in a vote for the Audience Prize. Also being held at the same time is the SICF Play exhibition bringing even more hands-on opportunities for viewers to join in interactive installation, shadow puppetry, media art and workshops. -5/08


Emma Ota

Emma Ota

First coming to Japan with the ambition of decoding the blackbox of Japanese media art, Emma soon realized there was more to life than programming and GPS and started out on an ongoing art adventure around South East Asia. Between flitting from one country to the next she has found time to work with various Tokyo based galleries and art centers, with a keen interest in alternative and artist run spaces, as well as running the art project dislocate. <a href="http//"></a>