Metamorphosis Garden1/4
Photo: Lim Chee Wah Metamorphosis Garden
Isamu Noguchi 2/4
Photo: Lim Chee Wah Isamu Noguchi: Ways of Discovery
スカイ ピラミデ3/4
Photo: Bottomless – 1960s Paintings and Two Films
🄫1988マッシュルーム/アキラ製作委員会4/4
Photo: The Sound of Akira

Best art exhibitions in Tokyo right now

What's on right now at Tokyo's most popular galleries: from innovative sculptures by Isamu Noguchi to an exhibit dedicated to the cult classic anime 'Akira'

By Time Out Tokyo Editors
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With an abundance of art shows happening this summer, it'll be hard to catch all of the latest installations before they dissapear. Nonetheless, we've got a list of the top art exhibitions taking place in some of Tokyo's most popular galleries to help you figure out where to start.

For a full day of art excursions, 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.

Note that some museums and galleries require making reservations in advance to prevent overcrowding at the venues. 

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

Don't miss these great shows

 『AKARI CLOUD』インスタレーション イサム・ノグチ財団・庭園美術館(ニューヨーク)での展示風景(2018-19年)Photo:Nicholas Knight ©The Noguchi Museum /ARS
Photo: Isamu Noguchi: Ways of Discovery

Isamu Noguchi: Ways of Discovery

Art Sculpture Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Ueno

Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi was one of the most emblematic visionaries of his time. His abstract sculptures were heavily influenced by the work of Constantin Brancusi – an artist that Noguchi admired since the start of his career – and often made to resonate with nature. 

This exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum features 90 of Noguchi’s works that were created in Japan and abroad. Highlights include the immersive installation of 150 ‘akari’ lamp sculptures and carved stone artworks from the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, which have never been exhibited in Tokyo before.

🄫1988マッシュルーム/アキラ製作委員会
Photo: The Sound of Akira

The Sound of Akira

Things to do Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation, Aomi

This semi-permanent exhibition at Odaiba’s Miraikan is dedicated to the sensational soundtrack of the 1988 anime ‘Akira’. The futuristic film, set in post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, is regarded as a masterpiece for its captivating plot and mesmerising animations, but it’s the film’s groundbreaking score by artist and biologist Shoji Yamashiro (real name Tsutomu Ohashi) that helped garner its cult following. 

The installation features six speakers which play Yamashiro’s so-called ‘sound modules’, which uses frequencies that had never been used in Japanese filmmaking until that point. There is a 15-minute video experience to accompany the range of sounds that were made by merging recordings of prayer chants and traditional instruments from around the world.

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スカイ ピラミデ
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Bottomless – 1960s Paintings and Two Films

Art Scai Piramide, Roppongi

This inaugural exhibition at the newly opened Scai Piramide will feature the early works of Shusaku Arakawa, whose art has garnered much attention since the tenth anniversary of his passing. A series of Arakawa’s two-dimensional works and two experimental films that best showcase his thought process as a young artist in the 1960s were selected to encourage viewers to contemplate the fog of an uncertain future. Note that advance reservation is required for admission. 

Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Fashion in Japan 1945-2020

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

Dedicated to the evolution of Japanese fashion, this pieces on display at this exhibition range from national uniforms of World War II to modern haute couture by internationally renowned Japanese designers. You’ll be able to take an in-depth look at how kawaii culture flourished in the 2010s, as well as how contemporary styles are tied to popular trends from half a century ago.

It’s an extensive array to say the least, and after a year of wearing nothing but joggers, this opportunity to catch what’s in vogue this decade might provide the inspiration you need for dressing up again.

 

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特別展「ファッション イン ジャパン1945〜2020 ー流行と社会」
Photo: The National Art Center Tokyo

Fashion in Japan 1945-2020

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

Dedicated to the evolution of Japanese fashion, this pieces on display at this exhibition range from national uniforms of World War II to modern haute couture by internationally renowned Japanese designers. You’ll be able to take an in-depth look at how kawaii culture flourished in the 2010s, as well as how contemporary styles are tied to popular trends from half a century ago.

It’s an extensive array to say the least, and after a year of wearing nothing but joggers, this opportunity to catch what’s in vogue this decade might provide the inspiration you need for dressing up again.

 

©堀越耕平/集英社
©堀越耕平/集英社

My Hero Academia Exhibition: Drawing Smash

Art Mori Arts Center Gallery, Roppongi

Now on display at the Mori Arts Center Gallery is an exhibition dedicated to Kohei Horikoshi’s  wildly popular manga series ‘My Hero Academia’. The manga has been serialised in the weekly manga magazine 'Shonen Jump' since 2014, and the story takes place in a world where the majority of humans develop different supernatural powers in their adolescence. 

This collection will feature Horikoshi’s original drafts and hand-drawn art as well as 3D sculptures and videos of the popular heroes and notorious villains from the series. Here, fans will also be able to find exclusive merchandise dedicated to the beloved franchise.

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Masaaki Kasuga Exhibition, Tokyo, 1964
Photo: Masaaki Kasuga

Masaaki Kasuga Exhibition, Tokyo, 1964

Museums JCII Photo Salon, Hanzomon

Nearly 60 years ago, Tokyo was getting ready to host its first Olympic Games in 1964. Just as we’ve seen in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020, preparations for the 1964 Games transformed the city forever. From June 29 to August 1, the JCII Camera Museum Photo Salon will hold an exhibition of photographer Masaaki Kasuga's works that captured the changing cityscape of Tokyo and its environs in 1964.

The exhibition features Kasuga’s photographs tracking the development of Tokyo and its surroundings, with Olympic monuments, buildings and new highways built one after another. Over 77 snapshots, Kasuga depicts the vibrant optimism of the period, capturing the excitement of people heading towards Olympic sites and visiting stores and venues covered in celebratory flags and lanterns.

These photos not only highlight Tokyo's incredible history of rapid change, but it’s also a reminder of the enduring power of the Olympic spirit. 

teamLab
Photo: teamLab

Walk, Walk, Walk Home

Art Ginza 456, Ginza

There’s a Japanese Zen Buddhist expression that goes something like: ‘every step is a place to learn’. That’s the adage that inspired this latest installation from teamLab, titled ‘Walk, Walk, Walk Home’. In this art displayed at Ginza 456, an ensemble of mystic creatures and townspeople are on a continuous journey to places unknown. 

Here, you can send your very own character off on a journey in the teamLab universe by picking one of the beings to colour in. Once your creation is ready, it will be scanned so your character will walk into digital art mural, travelling through its fields and bamboo forests.

 

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Kohei Nawa
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Metamorphosis Garden

Art Ginza Six, Ginza

Suspended in the atrium of Ginza Six is the department store’s latest public art installation by Kyoto-based artist Kohei Nawa. The installation features a sculpture of a deer floating above clouds, a creature that has appeared at the centre of many of Nawa’s coveted works for its symbolic ties to Shintoism and ancient Japanese history. 

There is more to the installation than meets the eye, with a corresponding app you can download to see the work come to life through your smartphone. In addition to the ‘Metamorphosis Garden’ installation, a handful of other works by Nawa will be available to experience through the use of AR technology. This includes the artist’s 2013 project ‘Foam’, which was presented at Aichi Triennale 2013 as well as his 2016 collaborative performance art piece with Belgium choreographer Damien Jalet, ‘Vessel’.

© “Tokyo Never Ending” by Louise Claire WAGNER
Photo: © “Tokyo Never Ending” by Louise Claire WAGNER

La Lumière pour L'Avenir

Art Myd Gallery, Minato

Not unlike some Impressionist paintings, the photographs at the Myd Gallery’s latest exhibition are centered on the depiction of light and its varied qualities. The two photographers featured are Kyoto-based Takeshi Sumi and Swiss-born Louise Claire Wagner; they both place light at the core of their latest works using a variety of techniques to capture their subjects and Tokyo’s urban landscapes.

Depending on the levels of brightness used to take the photographs, you'll either be drawn to the intensity of the light or feel uplifted by its softness. 

Note that while the exhibition is free, you must book a time slot in advance. 

 

 

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Mori Art Museum
Photo: fb.com/MoriArtMuseum

Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World

Art Mori Art Museum, Roppongi

This exhibition shines a light on 16 female artists from 14 different countries around the world, who began their careers in the turbulent postwar years from the 1950s to 1970s, and who remain active today in 2021. The works offer a multifaceted look at the artists' last five decades of practice, through early and well-known works, as well as new pieces created for the exhibition.

All sixteen artists, whose ages range between 71 and 105, represent an incredible diversity – birthplaces, current locations, modes of expression as well as lifestyles. Showcased artists include Beatriz González, Phyllida Barlow and Arpita Singh. 

Steps Ahead
Photo: Artizon Museum

Steps Ahead

Art Artizon Museum, Kyobashi

This exhibition introduces the Artizon Museum’s recent acquisitions and consists of a total of 201 artworks, many of which are being exhibited for the first time. The collection covers a broad range of artistic movements, from highly prized abstract works by female artists to Australian Aboriginal art.

Highlights include Cubist paintings by Picasso, drawings by Henri Matisse and contemporary works by Shuzo Takiguchi’s experimental studio, as well as French abstract art from the post-war period.

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