1. Yayoi Kusama, yellow pumpkin, Fukuoka Art Museum
    Photo: Lim Chee WahFukuoka Art Museum
  2. Yayoi Kusama
    Photo: Lim Chee Wah Yayoi Kusama: ‘Love Forever, Singing in Towada’, Towada Art Center

Where to see Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkin sculptures in Japan

The yellow one on Naoshima is under repair, but you can still find the artist's other polka dot pumpkins elsewhere

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen
Advertising

Last August, Yayoi Kusama’s yellow pumpkin sculpture in Naoshima was swept into the sea by a powerful typhoon. While the pumpkin was retrieved from the water, it suffered substantial damage and had to be carted off for repair. We are still waiting for updates on the sculpture’s condition and the beachfront lookout point where it once proudly sat remains empty. 

The pumpkin was something of an icon of the art island of Naoshima, so there’s no doubt that the irreplaceable artwork will be restored and returned to its concrete pier eventually. In the meantime, however, you’ll find a handful of Yayoi Kusama’s other pumpkin sculptures on display around Japan. Here are the places to go.

RECOMMENDED: See more sculptures at the best outdoor art museums in Japan

Join the dots

Naoshima
Photo: Sucha Kittiwararat/Dreamstime

Naoshima

There’s more than one emblematic pumpkin on the art island of Naoshima. A deep shade of red, this second squash is the first thing that visitors see when arriving on the island as it sits by the ferry terminal. Unlike its yellow counterpart, this enormous pumpkin is big enough to stand inside and even has round entryways for people to enter the pumpkin’s hollow interior. It’s a site-specific piece that is rooted to the ground – in other words, there’s no chance of it getting blown away by a heavy storm.

Towada Art Center
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Towada Art Center

The yellow pumpkin opposite the Towada Art Center in Aomori prefecture is actually a part of a larger installation titled ‘Love Forever, Singing in Towada’. The installation doubles as a playground, with green rubber flooring covered in yellow polka dots for children to run around on. Next to the pumpkin are several more colourful pieces by Kusama including sculptures of curious looking creatures and tall mushrooms that look like they’ve come out of a story book. Other installations found in the museum’s outdoor Art Square include the ‘Fat House’ and ‘Fat Car’ by Erwin Wurm, as well as the boulder-like ‘Even Shetia’ by Jaume Plensa.

As for the museum itself, the Towada Art Center is temporarily closed until the end of February, but it's worth waiting for the indoor exhibitions as the large-scale artworks here are second to none. These include immersive installations like Leondro Erlich’s playful ‘Building-Buenos Aires’, and Chiharu Shiota’s ‘Memory of water’, which each promise epic photo ops.

Advertising
Fukuoka Art Museum
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Fukuoka Art Museum

Established in 1979, the Fukuoka Art Museum boasts an impressive collection of both pre-modern and contemporary art works. Highlights from the museum’s permanent collection range from Buddhist relics dating back to the Heian period (794-1185), to modern art by the likes of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Salvador Dalí.

General admission for the museum is just ¥200, but one of its most talked about artworks – a giant yellow pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama – is permanently displayed outside the red brick structure and you can view it for free. 

Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Photo: Cowardlion/Shutterstock

Matsumoto City Museum of Art

Matsumoto City in Nagano is the birthplace of Yayoi Kusama and this museum won’t let anyone forget it – even the vending machines here are covered in the artist’s trademark polka dots. In the museum’s gardens and courtyard, you’ll not only find a tall yellow pumpkin akin to the one in Naoshima, but also Kusama’s towering sculptures of exotic plants and flowers. 

Inside, there is often at least one exhibition space dedicated to one of the museum’s private collections titled Yayoi Kusama: The Place for My Soul, featuring a range of paintings, drawings and immersive installations. Aside from Yayoi Kusama’s collection, you’ll also find works by other prolific figures from Matsumoto City, including a series of calligraphic scrolls by Kamijo Shinzan and sculptures by Munehide Hosokawa. 

More sights to see

Advertising
Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising