10 Exhibitions to See During the Rainy Season

Here are some ways to combine blossom-viewing and art-viewing during the wet season in Tokyo.

poster for Hideo Sawada “Endurance”

Hideo Sawada “Endurance”

at Amu Gallery / Terakoya
in the Ueno, Yanaka area
This event has ended - (2013-05-20 - 2013-10-27)

poster for Femme-Fatales - Dangerous & Seductive Women in Taisho and Showa-Era Literature

Femme-Fatales - Dangerous & Seductive Women in Taisho and Showa-Era Literature

at Yayoi Museum
in the Ueno, Yanaka area
This event has ended - (2013-04-04 - 2013-06-30)

poster for Natsume Soseki and Arts

Natsume Soseki and Arts

at The University Art Museum - Tokyo University of the Arts
in the Ueno, Yanaka area
This event has ended - (2013-05-14 - 2013-07-07)

poster for Unconsciousness of the City

Unconsciousness of the City

at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
in the Chiyoda area
This event has ended - (2013-06-04 - 2013-08-04)

poster for Shohei Matsuda- A Centennial Retrospective

Shohei Matsuda- A Centennial Retrospective

at Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura
in the Yokohama, Kanagawa area
This event has ended - (2013-06-08 - 2013-09-01)

In Features by Jennifer Pastore 2013-06-14

Cherry blossoms may be Japan’s favorite flower, but ajisai (hydrangeas) are also not to be missed. Unlike the delicate cherry blossoms, which must be carefully cultivated and stay on the branches for only a couple of weeks, ajisai spring up anywhere and everywhere, remaining for the whole first half of summer in their riotous profusions of purple, pink, blue, and white. Here is a list of great art to check out in the proximity of some of Tokyo’s and the surrounding area’s most famous ajisai festivals and spots, so you can duck into museums when the rain gets to be too much.

Bunkyo Ward is holding its 29th ajisai festival through June 16th at Hakusan Shrine. The festival features concerts and activities as well as 3,000 ajisai in full bloom. A ten-minute walk from the shrine will take you to Amu Gallery/Terakoya, now displaying Hideo Sawada’s sculpture show “Endurance.” Twenty minutes from the shrine on foot or by Namboku line is the MuPon-eligible illustration exhibition “Femme Fatales— Dangerous & Seductive Women in Taisho and Showa-Era Literature” at the Yayoi Museum and “Bijinga and its Models— The Mystery and Romance of Bijinga Women” at the adjacent Takehisa Yumeji Museum. Both run through June 30th.

Ueno Park and the nearby Kyu-Iwasakitei (the former family home and garden of Mitsubishi’s founder) are also well-known for their ajisai. Within the park’s grounds you can see “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan” at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum through June 30th and royal family treasures at the Ueno Royal Museum’s “Japan Art Association 125 Year Anniversary” showing through July 14th. Also within walking distance, the University Art Museum of Tokyo University of the Arts is hosting the architecture and art exhibition “Materializing” through June 23rd and “Natsume Soseki and Arts,” a creative tribute to the Meiji period novelist, through July 7th.

Yutaka Takanashi, 'Golden-gai Street, Bar Maeda' from 'Text of the City: Shinjuku' (1982)

The Imperial Palace grounds in Chiyoda ward are home to some of Tokyo’s most beautiful ajisai. A ten-minute stroll from the palace brings you to National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, which through August 4th offers “Unconsciousness of the City”, an exploration of the ties between art and urban life. The museum also holds permanent collections of modern Japanese art and the works of artists regarded as living national treasures.

Toshimaen amusement park in Nerima ward throws an annual celebration boasting 10,000 ajisai of 150 varieties. This year’s festival lasts through June 30th. The Nerima Art Museum is displaying “Eras and Art: 1930-1955” through July 7th, which showcases the work of the surrealist painter Aimitsu and other artists of the period.

Kamakura is infamously packed on sunny days during ajisai season, but the crowds do tend to thin out (a little) when it rains. Wake up early to see the exquisite view of the Yuigahama bay flanked on both sides by flowers at Jojuin Shrine. You can also head to the Zen garden of Meigetsuin, or Ajisai Shrine, before walking about 25 minutes to the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura to take advantage of the MuPon discount for “Shohei Matsuda— A Centennial Retrospective.” At the same venue you can also take in the prints, collages, and books of artist Yuri Nonaka in her show “Together With A Beautiful Book.” Both exhibitions end on September 1st, but the ajisai will be gone by then, so get moving!

Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore. Jennifer Pastore is Tokyo Art Beat's editor. » See other writings


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