1. Sanrio
    Photo: Sanrio 60th Anniversary Sanrio Exhibition the Beginning of Kawaii
  2. Sanrio, Hello Kitty
    Photo: Sanrio 60th Anniversary Sanrio Exhibition the Beginning of Kawaii

Best art exhibitions in Tokyo right now

What's on right now at Tokyo's most popular galleries: from Kaws to Sanrio's largest-ever art exhibition

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

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

  • Art
  • Roppongi

Currently on show at Tokyo City View in Roppongi, the largest exhibition in Sanrio's history explores the 60-year history of more than 400 characters. It also examines the roots of Sanrio as a symbol of Japan's kawaii culture through more than 800 exhibits.

The showcase starts with 'Unforgettable Tower’, a 6-meter-tall symbolic art piece by Sebastian Masuda. Through original drawings and rough sketches, you’ll learn about the birth of Sanrio’s iconic characters including Hello Kitty, My Melody and Pompompurin. Then, delve into Sanrio’s mission and what it wanted to convey to its fanbase by examining the company’s own publication, Ichigo Shimbun (Strawberry Newspaper).

Over at the on-site café and restaurant – Sun & Moon – you can order a Sanrio-themed afternoon tea and cocktails featuring the faces of your favourite characters.

  • Things to do
  • 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.

  • Art
  • 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’.

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