Stars Exhibition1/5
Photo: Pink Boat 1992, stuffed sewn fabric, boat, pair-oar 90 x 350 x 180 cm, Yayoi Kusuma, Nagoya City Art Museum
Olafur Eliasson2/5
Photo: Installation view: Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2015 Photo: Anders Sune Berg Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles © 1993 Olafur EliassonOlafur Eliasson, Beauty, 1993
Yasumasa Morimura3/5
Une moderne Olympia, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York. © Yasumasa Morimura
Peter Doig 4/5
Photo: Gasthof za Muldentalspele 2000-02, oil on canvas, 196 x 296 cm, Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago © Peter Doig. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Nancy Lauter McDougal and Alfred L. McDougal, 2003.433 .All rights reserved, DACS & JASPA
Photo: Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum

Best art exhibitions in Tokyo this summer

From Olafur Eliasson and Daido Moriyama to street art and masterpieces from The National Gallery of London

By Time Out Tokyo Editors

Fancy seeing an art show this weekend but no idea where to go? Look no further. Here are the top art exhibitions taking place in some of Tokyo's most popular museums and galleries right now.

For a full day of art excusions, you should also check out Tokyo's best street art and outdoor sculptures, or fill your Instagram feed at two of the hottest digital art museums: teamLab Borderless and teamLab Planets Tokyo.

RECOMMENDED: Not in Japan? You can still visit these amazing Japanese museums via virtual tours

Don't miss these great shows

Daniel Arsham x Pokémon
©2020 Pokémon. TM, ® Nintendo. ©Daniel Arsham

Daniel Arsham: Relics of Kanto Through Time

Art Parco Museum, Shibuya

American artist Daniel Arsham has teamed up with Pokémon for an exhibition at the Parco Museum Tokyo following his Pokémon showcase at Nanzuka. Recently, Arsham also released a limited-edition Uniqlo T-shirt collection, giving fans a sneak peek at what's in-store. Titled 'Relics of Kanto Through Time', the exhibition features Pokémon characters in Arsham's signature fossilised, decaying style which he has coined as 'Fictional Archaeology'. You'll recognise Pikachu, Charmander, Squirtle, Snorlax, Eevee and more in this collection that depicts the world of the 'Pokémon Red' and 'Pokémon Blue' video games in the year 3020.

重要文化財 小袖 白綾地秋草模様 尾形光琳筆 江戸時代・18世紀 東京国立博物館蔵
重要文化財 小袖 白綾地秋草模様 尾形光琳筆 江戸時代・18世紀 東京国立博物館蔵

Kimono: Fashioning Identities

Art Tokyo National Museum, Ueno

Get a thorough introduction to an iconic piece of Japanese clothing at the Tokyo National Museum and Japan Cultural Expo's spring special, which digs deep into the history and cultural significance of the kimono. The exhibition's five sections touch on themes such as the garment's origins, its evolution and its contemporary role, and feature a range of remarkable items – from the only remaining kimono decorated by master painter Ogata Korin and a jinbaori coat worn by the 16th-century warlord Oda Nobunaga to the OTT clothing designs of Taro Okamoto. Visitors can also view paintings, prints and other artworks related to kimono culture, and try on reproductions of famous historical garments.

葛飾北斎《冨嶽三十六景 神奈川沖浪裏》 江戸時代・19世紀 和泉市久保惣記念美術館、しりあがり寿《ちょっと可笑しなほぼ三十六景 太陽から見た地球》 2017年 作家蔵

Timeless Conversations 2020: Voices from Japanese Art of the Past and Present

Art The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT), Nogizaka

This exhibition, co-presented by Japan Cultural Expo, collects works by noted contemporary Japanese artists working at the forefront of art, photography, design and architecture. You’ll see work by some of the most important artists of our time, including Tadanori Yokoo and Kotobuki Shiriagari, plus contributions from past masters such as Soga Shohaku and Hokusai. Each piece here can be admired for its technique and individuality, but approaching the exhibits from the curator’s point of view, exploring the similarities and relationships between them, may just give you an entirely different perspective.


100th anniversary of the founding of Bauhaus

Art Tokyo Station Gallery, Marunouchi

This exhibition is will showcase notable artists from the movement like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, as well as some Japanese artists who based their work on the principles of Bauhaus. Roughly 300 works will be featured ranging from metalwork, pottery, textiles and furniture to printing, advertising and stage design. Many of the works on display were created by students for assignments at the Bauhaus school. 


Secret Source of Inspiration: Designers’ Hidden Sketches and Mockups

Art 21_21 Design Sight, Roppongi

21_21 Design Sight, a sleek Roppongi venue dedicated to contemporary design, is offering a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse at the working processes of some of Japan’s foremost practitioners of industrial design, architecture, interactive development and more.

All 26 current members of the Japan Design Committee (established in 1953) have shared work-in-progress sketches, drawings and mockups to form an exhibition that reveals the essence of creativity. Highlights include sketches by starchitect Kengo Kuma showing the seeds of ideas for some of his current projects, and prototypes by Fumie Shibata, known for her work for Muji and the Nine Hours capsule hotel chain.

Daido Moriyama
Photo: ©Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

Moriyama Daido's Tokyo: ongoing

Art Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Ebisu

The celebrated documenter of Japan's postwar urban life, photographer Daido Moriyama is still going strong at the age of 81. Moriyama began his career in the 60s at a time when Japan was experiencing a dramatic transformation. He used a hand-held automatic camera to capture chaotic urban scenes of the American occupation and made waves with his rough, high-contrast images, eventually becoming one of the most influential avant-guard photographers of our time. Based on the theme of ‘ongoing’, this exhibition at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum focuses the city of Tokyo as seen through Moriyama’s lens in his latest color and monochrome works.

Olafur Eliasson
Photo: Installation view: Tate Modern, London Photo: Zan Wimberley, 2019 Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

Olafur Eliasson: Sometimes the river is the bridge

Art Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Kiyosumi

Olafur Eliasson does epic like few others. The Danish-Icelandic artist’s first Tokyo show in ten years will see breathtaking installation pieces from throughout his career fill the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo’s vast halls. Eliasson’s grandiose works demonstrate both his masterful manipulation of light and geometry, and deft incorporation of phenomena from the natural world. ‘Beauty’ (1993), in which a rainbow emerges in a darkened space, is just one such highlight.

When Eliasson, a passionate environmentalist, captures the monumental power of nature, it’s for a specific reason: to make it explicitly clear that THIS – this glorious, miraculous planet with its winds, rains and rocks – is precisely what we’re systematically destroying by letting it melt, crack and fall apart. This is epic environmentalism and, yes, it’s sublime.


Banksy: Genius or Vandal?

Art Multiple venues

Banksy is the most notorious street artist of this generation, but his real identity remains a mystery to the world that admired his works as they spontaneously appeared on city streets overnight. Though images of Banksy's work have been widely circulated online, the artist has never organised conventional exhibitons, making it harder for international fans to see a collection of his works in person.  This unauthorised exhibition, which has already been held in five cities around the world, is made possible by private art collectors. 

Prismatic Cloud
Ginza Six

Prismatic Cloud at Ginza Six

Art Ginza Six, Ginza

The ritzy Ginza Six department store will be decked out with a mesmerizing cloud-like art installation created by Japanese designer and artist, Yoshioka Tokujin, from February 27 until the end of October. His works have been displayed all around the world including at the Musée d'Orsay and the Art Institute of Chicago. Recently, Tokujin turned heads with his designs for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic torches. As the name Prismatic Cloud suggests, Tokujin’s gigantic sculpture is made from over 10,000 white prism rods dangling from the top in the centre of the building, creating the illusion of a cloud hovering just below the ceiling.

Yokohama Triennale
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Yokohama Triennale

Art Multiple venues

A veteran among Japan's growing number of international art festivals, the Yokohama Triennale returns for its seventh run and will again centre on the Yokohama Museum of Art, Plot 48 and the NYK Maritime Museum. The event will be directed by Raqs Media Collective, a group of three artists from New Delhi, India. With a high-flying theme – 'Afterglow' – set to take artists and visitors on a trip through time and space, things are certainly looking exciting for the 2020 edition of Yoko-Tori, as it’s affectionately known.

Peter Doig
Photo:《Night Bathers》2019, oil on hemp, 200 × 275 cm, collection of the artist © Peter Doig. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London.All rights reserved, DACS & JASPAR 2019 C3006

Peter Doig exhibition

Art The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Takebashi

Contemporary Scottish figurative painter Peter Doig is having his maiden exhibition in Japan at the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, where you can see a range of his works, from his earliest to some of his most recent. His style draws on artists like Paul Gaugin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse and Edvard Munch while incorporating imagery inspired by movie scenes and advertisements to create art with a romantic yet mysterious feel. The highlights are his overwhelmingly large paintings that span over three metres wide, making you feel as though you are part of the scene.

Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London
Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflower, 1888, Oil on canvas, 92.1 x 73cm. © The National Gallery, London

Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London

Art The National Museum of Western Art, Ueno

London’s National Gallery is revered far and wide for its comprehensive collection of European master painters, and ranks as one of the ten most visited art museums in the world. This show, held in Tokyo before travelling to Osaka in July, is the very first time in the institution’s almost two-century-long history that a large-scale exhibition of highlights from its bountiful collection has been held outside of the National Gallery’s own walls. A total of 61 works, all being shown in Japan for the first time, are divided into sections with themes such as ‘Landscape Painting and the Picturesque’ and ‘The Golden Age of Dutch Painting’, with artists including Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeer, to name but a few.

Kitawaki Noboru
Kitawaki Noboru, Diagram of I Ching Divination (Heaven and Earth), 1941

Kitawaki Noboru: To See the Universe in a Seed

Art The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Takebashi

The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, draws upon its extensive collection to offer a different perspective on the work of avant-garde painter Kitawaki Noboru (1901-1951). Active in Kyoto during the ’30s and ’40s, Kitawaki has until now been assessed in terms of the influence he derived from the Surrealists. While this aspect is present – the maple seeds in 1937 work ‘Airport’ can alternatively be viewed as aeroplanes – this exhibition argues that the artist’s deeper aim was to decode the invisible laws of the world around us, and present a unification of heaven and earth as if condensed into a single seed.

MANGA都市TOKYO ニッポンのマンガ・アニメ・ゲーム・特撮2020
MANGA都市TOKYO ニッポンのマンガ・アニメ・ゲーム・特撮2020

Manga Tokyo

Art The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT), Nogizaka

Tokyo has both inspired and served as the setting for countless works of manga and anime, video games and special effects-heavy tokusatsu movies. Setting out to explore the impact of the city on Japanese pop culture and the effects of that culture on how Tokyo is viewed and understood around the world, ‘Manga Tokyo’, which takes place under the auspices of the ongoing Japan Cultural Expo, approaches its theme by way of a remarkable 93 titles and more than 500 distinct items. The exhibits are organised around a 17m by 22m miniature model of the city, inviting you to discover the exact locations depicted in comics, games and movies. 

Stars Exhibition
Photo: Pink Boat 1992, stuffed sewn fabric, boat, pair-oar 90 x 350 x 180 cm, Yayoi Kusuma, Nagoya City Art Museum

Stars: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World

Art Mori Art Museum, Roppongi

Stars brings together six celebrated figures from the Japanese modern art scene, each of whom rose to prominence as the country became Asia’s first postwar economic powerhouse, and transcended Japan’s cultural borders to capture imaginations worldwide. The careers of Yayoi Kusama, Tatsuo Miyajima, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Hiroshi Sugimoto and South Korean-born Lee Ufan, a resident of Japan for over six decades, are traced from their earliest works through to new pieces specially commissioned for this show. Stars explores how each of the six have, in very different ways, pursued universal values that transcend nationality and culture while working in a social, cultural and economic milieu that has often been considered unique.

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National Museum of Western Art, Monet hall
Photo: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

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Installation view: Lesconil, NANZUKA, Tokyo, Japan, 2019 ©Jean Jullien Courtesy of NANZUKA

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