Pavilion Tokyo 2021
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima; ©Yayoi Kusama / The obliteration room 2002–presentLocation: Shibuya City Office – Daini Mitake Branch Government Office Building

Yayoi Kusama has a new Obliteration Room in Shibuya – and it's free

At this participatory art installation, you can put colourful stickers on anything you want within the pure white space

Tabea Greuner
Written by
Tabea Greuner
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One of the most famous artists of our time, Yayoi Kusama is synonymous with a few things: pumpkins, trippy infinity rooms and polka dots. This new quirky installation in Shibuya, which belongs to the red-haired nanogenarian’s ‘Obliteration Room’ series (2002-present), takes her signature polka dot motif to the next level.

Pavilion Tokyo 2021
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

At the Obliteration Room, you’ll get to transform the stark white space with an explosion of colourful stickers. This interactive experience is part of the Pavilion Tokyo 2021 art event, which has placed nine impressive installations, created by eight famous Japanese artists and architects, around Tokyo. Pavilion Tokyo 2021, in turn, is a key event at the city-wide Tokyo Tokyo Festival, currently ongoing until September 5.

You’ll find Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Obliteration Room’ in the Shibuya City Office – Daini Mitake Branch Government Office Building. But first, you’ll have to make a (free) reservation in advance. The installation is open every day from 10am to 6pm but each visit is limited to 20 minutes. You can only reserve one week in advance; bookings for the following week are open at 12noon every Monday.

Before entering the room, there's the usual coronavirus-safety measures – disinfecting your hands and getting a temperature check. You’ll then be given a sheet of differently sized colourful stickers, which you can use to decorate any surface and item in the room. Note that you’ll have to take off your shoes before entering the room, which the staff will carry to the exit.

Pavilion Tokyo 2021
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

The stark white installation is a life-sized, immaculate re-creation of an apartment complete with familiar household objects. At the front door you’ll see a post box and a bicycle before stepping into a fully-equipped kitchen. The attention to detail is impressive: there’s a dining table all set up with utensils as well as common electronics such as a microwave and refrigerator.

Pavilion Tokyo 2021
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Next is the small living room, complete with a sofa and TV, plus a reading space at the back. Some visitors have done a creative job of using their stickers to create adorable patterns resembling cat paws or caterpillars. 

Pavilion Tokyo 2021
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

The highlight, however, is located behind a small corridor, which leads you to a stunning all-white Japanese-style room decked out with tatami mats. Besides a traditional tea-time set up of two trays with tea pots and dango dumplings, there’s also a tokonoma alcove featuring a traditional hanging scroll and flowers. 

Pavilion Tokyo 2021
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

This installation is worth several repeat visits to see how it’s transformed over time as more and more visitors contribute to the makeup of the space.

For more information on Pavilion Tokyo 2021, check here (in Japanese only).

Art: Yayoi Kusama / The Obliteration Room 2002-present. © Yayoi Kusama.

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