Moon Art Night Shimokitazawa
Photo: Amanda Parer 'Intrude, 2014' ©AXAS NewsMoon Art Night Shimokitazawa

There are three art festivals in Tokyo this September – all with big name artists

Takashi Murakami’s Doraemon in Roppongi, a Leandro Erlich maze in Odaiba, Luke Jerram's giant moon in Shimokitazawa, and more

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

This month, we’ll finally see the return of the long-awaited Roppongi Art Night after several Covid-19 related postponements. The Takashi Murakami-headed event, however, isn’t the only art festival in Tokyo to look out for this month. Alongside Roppongi’s annual contemporary art extravaganza, Odaiba and Shimokitazawa will each host their own set of show-stopping exhibitions with the help of big-name artists from both Japan and overseas. 

Each of these festivals will take place for several days – even Roppongi Art Night, which is three days long this year – so you’ll have ample time to explore all of them. And you should. Save for a few events, most of the programmes in the festivals are free and open to everyone – especially the art installations, which will all appear at public space.

Here’s a brief overview of the upcoming festivals, including the highlights to look out for.

Hiroto Yoshizoe
Photo: Hiroto Yoshizoe 'City Echo'Artbay Tokyo

Artbay Tokyo

September 6 to September 25 

teamLab Borderless may have closed in August but there’s still plenty of art to see in Odaiba this month with the upcoming Artbay Tokyo event. Organisers describe it as an experience-based contemporary art festival featuring local and international artists by the likes of Leandro Erlich, Akinori Goto, Hiroto Yoshizoe and the Ultra Studio collective. Installations can be found both indoor and outdoor between Daiba and Ariake stations in Odaiba. 

Leandro Erlich’s ‘The Print’, for instance, is an outdoor maze at the Symbol Promenade Park Flower Plaza. The Argentinian artist created an allegorical fingerprint to coax us into contemplating the traces of the human race, our individual identities and how we interact with the world around us. 

Akinori Goto's installation 'Heading', meanwhile, can be found at the Stone and Light Plaza. This series of rotating sculptures represents both our physical and figurative movement patterns with regard to how our everyday habits and routines were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On top of the visual art exhibits, there will also be a number of events, demonstrations and workshops scheduled on different days of the festival. These include a series of art appreciation tours conducted by one of DAWN's Orihime robots (in Japanese only, reservations required), as well as a half-hour projection mapping show at Tokyo Big Sight from 6pm on September 16 and September 25.

Photo: Moon Art Night Shimokitazawa, courtesy of OdakyuLuke Jerram 'Museum of the Moon' ©Leeds Living

Moon Art Night Shimokitazawa

September 10 to September 25

The relaxed, artsy neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa is about to become even cooler with its first edition of Moon Art Night. Like its counterpart in Roppongi, Moon Art Night’s title is a bit misleading as this festival is set to take place over two weeks instead of a single evening, but that’s fine by us as we’ll have more time to explore everything the event has to offer.

The festival features a number of cultural activities and pop-ups as well as a handful of contemporary art installations. Highlights include the eye-catching luminescent moon installation by UK artist Luke Jerram (available on September 17, September 19 and September 23 to September 25), as well as Tasmania-based artist Amanda Parer’s first showcase in Japan. Parer uses giant white rabbit inflatables (pictured top) as a metaphor for the global environmental crises. 

Takashi Murakami posing with Doraemon for Roppongi Art Night 2022
Photo: Roppongi Art Night

Roppongi Art Night

September 17 to September 19

After a couple of postponements, cancellations and false starts amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Roppongi Art Night is finally back for the first time in three years. The event is normally scheduled over two days, but this year’s festival will be one day longer than usual to make up for its absence.

On the frontline of this year's festival is Takashi Murakami, who has invited 13 artists to collaborate with him on a Doraemon-themed art project – a feat that Murakami and other Art Night organisers have been trying to pull off since 2020.

Participating artists include both Japanese and international names, such as Madsaki, Aya Takano, Chiho Aoshima, Emi Kuraya and Kasing Lung. The works will be displayed at four main venues: Roppongi Hills Arena, Tokyo Midtown, The National Art Center and Roppongi Lapilos. Most of the exhibits will be free and a few installations will even be available for viewing a few days ahead of the festival’s opening. Read more about what’s in store here

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