Don’t let the weather ruin a perfectly good weekend. TW’s upcoming series of events, held at Japan Rail Cafe Tokyo, is one of the many fun must-visits for anyone looking to explore the full breadth of Japan’s six prefectures.
Note: Events details are subject to change. Check any event websites before heading out and keep respecting the measures against Covid-19 in Tokyo whenever possible.
1. Best of Tohoku Showcase at JAPAN RAIL CAFE TOKYO
TW is teaming up with Japan Rail Cafe Tokyo to bring you the best of Japan. This month, join Tohoku Ambassador and TW Senior Editor Lisa Wallin and fellow readers for a one-hour session to learn about one of the region’s six prefectures. Each session will include a hands-on experience and every participant will receive a goodie bag to take home. To join us, make sure to register (please only sign up for one event).
- Aomori (Jun 26, 11am–12pm)
- Akita (Jun 26, 1pm–2pm)
- Yamagata (Jun 26, 3pm–4pm)
- Fukushima (Jun 27, 11am–12pm)
- Iwate (Jun 27, 1pm–2pm)
- Miyagi (Jun 27, 3pm–4pm)
Where: Japan Rail Cafe Tokyo, 1-9 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
Chance Market is the new kid on the sustainability block. The little venue at Tokyu Plaza Shibuya comes alive with three types of market. In the “Chance Flower,” florists beautifully arrange three-flower bouquets using unsold and discarded stems. With a pay-what-you-want system, you can further shop with ease knowing every purchase will be donated to the Shibuya Ward Medical Association. For anyone planning to do their weekly grocery haul, “Chance Vege & Fruit” sells fresh produce by local producers with a playful twist. Already wrapped inside the packaging, you won’t know what you’re getting until after you’ve paid and opened the wrapping. The “Chance Craft” offers a fresh selection of products that tell stories from the individual artists. It’s certainly a charming one-stop site for city dwellers to learn more about sustainability, nature and ecology.
When: Jun 25–Jul 11
Where: Tokyu Plaza Shibuya 1-2-3 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Enter the whimsical mindscape of Tokyo-based visual artist Dennis Sun. Curiously dreamlike and vibrant, Sun’s works ruminate on footprints of childhood memory. One moment, it’s a red-nosed clown with a star-studded jester’s hat. The next, it’s a violent frenzy of anthropomorphic figures with their uncanny stares. There’s somewhat a muted sense of déjà vu and confusion as you stare into his works — a camaraderie between a child and their imaginary friends relived. For the Filipino artist, art is a vehicle for internal monologue and self-discovery. In his upcoming Pieces of Dreams exhibition, the sunny creatures stalk, sits and merry around the canvas, making it a trippy stroll down memory lane.
When: Jun 27–Jul 9
Where: Kouyama Garden, 3-1-21 Koyama, Nerima-ku
Bitter Nest gathers a trans-generational group of American artists whose works act as social intersections between culture, history and art from the past half-century. For example, Genesis Belanger’s unearthly pop art mirrors his exploration of the psychological dialogue between power and anxiety. Painter Emily Mae Smith, too, grounds her creativity in queer, racial, decolonization and feminist issues. Other artists, including Nina Chanel Abney, Chiffon Thomas and Judy Chicago, seamlessly rewrite the narrative on multilayered homophobia, exclusion and muted oppression. The exhibition’s title Bitter Nest is borrowed from mixed media artist Faith Ringgold’s painted narrative quilt series.
When: Jun 15–Jul 17
Where: Perrotin Tokyo, 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Kokura-ori, a sturdy traditional textile woven in vertical stripes, was once used to make hakama and obi for samurai. It soon became a dying craft in the Showa Era, before textile artist Noriko Tsuiki succeeded in reviving its production and capturing its three-dimensional depth through trial and error. The fabric is intense and delicate, with a strong yet soft structure. The Kokura-ori brand Kokura Shima Shima honors the tradition behind this special technique by giving it a modern look. In their exhibition at Huls Gallery Tokyo, Kokura Shima Shima will showcase their Spring 2021 collection, inspired by the four seasons in Japan. In addition to three new original patterns, the exhibition will also display various everyday items such as bags, furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping) and clothing.
When: Until Jun 26
Where: Huls Gallery Tokyo, 6-4-10 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Shinsuke Tomita works mainly in oil painting and copperplate printing. His debut solo show in Tokyo features selected copperplate prints and some new works. The scenes in his prints are enigmatic with a cinema-like quality. Tomita begins on the copperplate with a vague image. As he marks the surface and conducts test prints, the compositions grow firmer.
When: Until Jun 26
Where: Hiromart Gallery, 1-30-7 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo-ku
The eclectic creations of Yayoi Kusama, Jackie Saccoccio, Claudia Peña Salinas and Hiba Schahbaz expand across a multitude of artistic genres. Kusuma’s avant-garde works pave the road for post-modernism. Saccocio’s deliberate randomness and gestural abstraction, too, branch into abstract expressionism, while Mexican artist Salina’s creative direction is influenced by indigenous and mythological elements of Mexico. Pakistan-born Schahbaz depicts female bodies with self-portraiture. Their paths greatly diverge, but at some point, they have all set foot on the same concrete streets of New York City. By chance, their lives were once loosely interconnected and will overlap again in the upmarket Aoyama district. The Club’s upcoming pop-up exhibition Gravitated: New York showcases works by the four female artists.
When: Until Jun 30
Where: The Aoyama Grand Hotel, 2-14-4 Kitaaoyama, Minato-ku
Moe Kimura “Nerimono” 2020 © Kamiyama Foundation Collection
Moe Kimura’s painting style can be best described as elusive. With a sheer cloth glued to the wooden frame, Kimura’s work is draped with a cloud of mystery brought about by the play of shadow from the thin canvas that responds to light. The artist paints objects as dreamy danglings referred to as “dough.” While the paintings are partly transparent, they are clearly visible — a depth born from an uncertain existence. Kimura’s first solo exhibition Fabric Garden introduces a new audience to the fresh sensibilities of these paintings.
When: Until Jun 27
Where: Loko Gallery, 12-6 Uguisudanicho, Shibuya-ku
Discover the unseen treasures of a vast overseas collection of Japanese painting masterpieces. Masterpieces from the Japanese Painting Collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art showcases a selection of works from the highly regarded Midwestern art museum’s impressive aggregation. The exhibition focuses on Edo-era works including artists from the Kano school and many pieces by renowned ukiyo-e masters. Explore the evolution of Japanese paintings and discover the elements of Nihonga that have captured the eyes of American collectors and art lovers for centuries.
Where: Suntory Museum of Art, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku
You’ll see a vast mosaic of petals and leaves at the Yamatane Museum’s 55th anniversary special exhibition with around 60 works on display. Since ancient times, artists in Japan across all disciplines have loved flowers. Working based on the Chinese-style floral and vegetal art of the Middle Ages, artists after the Meiji Period sought to create new expressions while maintaining the aesthetics of the past. At the same time, they wanted to include Western painting techniques and modern sensibilities in their works. This exhibition focuses on contemporary Japanese paintings such as Taikan Yokoyama’s “Cherry Blossoms,” Kokei Kobayashi’s “Lotus Petals” and Gyoshu Hayami’s “Camellias.”
When: Until Jun 27
Where: Yamatane Museum of Art, 3-12-36 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku
June marks the start of Pride Month and along with the all the events and parades, you can also enjoy a fantastic selection of drinks. Trunk Hotel has a packed lineup of charity mocktails and cocktails along with some great music. The boutique goes above and beyond to make sure the LGBTQ community is seen, supported and celebrated. Jam to the beat with the DJs while drinking a rainbow citrus cocktail, or get to know more about the cause by chatting with the activists on site. Part of the proceeds will go to support the LGBTQ community and people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
When: Until Jun 30
Where: Trunk Hotel, 5-31 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
European-born duo Rita Ackermann and Andro Wekua stage chaos and political fragments as the touchstones of their artistry. Using graphite and oil crayons, Ackermann paints large-scale compositions that are figuratively abstract and provokingly bold. Her final pictures bring viewers back to her early life in the 1990s Eastern Block. Wekua, too, evokes a dark emotional dialogue using Rothko-inspired bright hues of pink, magentas and acid yellow. Collaborating on the grounds of their common repressed experience and their long-time kinship, this dual exhibition oscillates between subtle symbolism and audacious artistic strokes. It also gives a fascinating view of the hazy past and the present.
When: Until Jul 3
Where: Fergus McCaffrey Tokyo, 3-5-9 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku
Known for his dark humor and satirical twists, manga artist Kotobuki Shiriagari isn’t reluctant to give absurd interpretations to ukiyo-e painter Katsushika Hokusai’s masterpieces. It’s a homage to the Japanese pioneer and a playful jab at his well-known artworks. Full of mischief and lacking in common sense, it’s an eyebrow-raising way to get familiar with both Hokusai’s iconic and lesser-known paintings. In addition to 36 gag strips of Shiriagari’s returning comical renditions, his newer works such as Blue Fuji and Ruri Fuji, alongside replicas of Hokusai’s prints will also be on display.
When: Until Jul 10
Where: Sumida Hokusai Museum, 2-7-2 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku
“When a woman thinks alone she thinks evil,” reads the Hammer of Witches. Shinto female priests and European witches in the middle ages were once oppressed due to intense patriarchy and fear, morphing into mania. Tokyo-based Polish artist Ewelina Skowronska relives this narrative and the depth behind their stories in her exhibition Voices from the Inside. Known to explore gender, identity and the female body through her ceramic sculptures and prints, Skowronska uses experimental airbrush techniques to further examine the cultural and mythological significance of shamans and witches. Once an outlier of their community, they have now resurfaced as symbols of feminism and sexual liberation. Carnal and provoking, Skowronska centers her exhibition on the spiritual and cultural elements of the female anatomy.
When: Until Jul 27
Where: The Knot Tokyo Shinjuku, 4-31-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Kazumi Nakamura’s oeuvre morphs into bodies of work throughout his life, yet his practice maintains a critical commitment to abstraction. For his third solo exhibition at Blum & Poe Tokyo, Nakamura strays away from his preference for canvasses and relies on paper to procure paintings of consistent compositional structure. With thick paint and ragged, expressive brushstrokes, Nakamura’s pieces traverse between three and two-dimensionality. On display, too, are exclusive early examples of his “Y-shape” — referring to the symbolism of his earlier work and the Diagonal Grid series made in the 1980s. The artist once described these alluring collections as “social semantics.”
When: Until Aug 7
Where: Blum & Poe Tokyo, 1-14-34 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
For this three-month-long exhibition, Picaresque Art Gallery asked 100 artists to create booklets, or collections, of their own works. Each booklet has its own unique finish－ some have a handcrafted feel to them, while others are professionally printed with a glossy cover. If you find one that you really like, all works are available for purchase either at the gallery or online. Also displayed at the gallery are some of the original, postcard-sized versions of the artworks which are featured in the artists’ booklets.
When: Until Aug 29
Where: Picaresque Art Gallery, 4-54-7 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku
Meet imma — Instagram personality, Tiktok star, pink-bob-haired icon and, above all, Asia’s first virtual human. Since its debut in 2018, imma has baffled the world with its offbeat presence that transcends both reality and the virtual world. In this collaborative exhibition at the Diesel Art Gallery, 13 highly acclaimed Japanese artists base imma as the center of their graphic designs, digital data, photography and paintings. Led by the brilliant mind of art director Minoru Murata, various works centered around imma narrate for a dynamic space with the theme of “Heaven.” These works challenge the line between genuine existence and imitation.
When: Until Sep 2
Where: Diesel Art Gallery, 1-23-16 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku