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Headline

The Voice of Tokyo for over 50 Years

JAPAN’S NO.1 ENGLISH LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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Midori Kawano

Atami: Rediscovering Its Charm Through Art

By Matthew Hernon

Visit the seaside city of Atami this month and you’ll find it’s even more colorful than usual. That’s because various destinations in the region are taking part in Atami Art Grant 2022, an initiative aimed at supporting young artists from around the world. The vibrant festival, which runs until November 27, features 30 pieces by selected artists and another 20 by Acao Art Residence artists. It’s all part of “Project Atami,” an endeavor launched in 2021 to “rediscover the charm of Atami with contemporary art.” We recently visited the city to check out some of the artwork on display. Here’s a look at a few of the destinations we took in during our trip. 

Artwork by Taichi Moiyama | Photo by Naoki Takehisa

Acao Spa & Resort

There’s a huge selection of artwork on display at the Acao Spa & Resort, the main site of the festival. For those planning more than a day trip in the city, this is a very charming place to stay. A huge hotel built on a cliff facing the ocean, it’s a destination that boasts amazing seascape views particularly from the accommodation’s hot spring baths. Some of the artistic highlights at the resort include the paintings of Hashel Al Lamki that unpack the relationship between humankind and their habitat; Masahide Matsuda’s giant crying emoji titled “The Big Flat Now;” and “About to Get Wet,” a piece by Taichi Moriyama featuring what looks like debris in a pool.  

Artwork and photo by Naoki Takehisa

Kinomiya Shrine

An auspicious shrine where the god of fortune resides, here you’ll find a sacred tree called “Okusu” that is more than 2,000 years old. A natural designated monument, it’s said that if you run around the 34-meter-thick tree once, your life will be extended by a year. Worshippers visit the site to pray for a long life, good health and to recover from illness. While there in November, they will also have the chance to take a look at Naoki Takehisa’s striking painting “Arrows or Else Shadows.” Also displaying his work at the shrine is contemporary artist Takashi Nakajima, who works with installations made using packaging materials.  

Yutorie

Yutorie & Yakuzen Café Gekiyaku

A training camp with workshops and lodging facilities, Yutorie was designed with creative people in mind. It’s a relatively small, though extremely stylish space with modern chic furniture and a cute little stone garden. Displaying his paintings here is Kazumichi Komatsu, a musician, artist and DJ who researches the role and function of the body in this information age. You can also see the work of the Group, an architectural collective featuring Gaku Inoue, Takahiro Omura, Naoki Saito, Kumiko Natsuda, and Ken Akatsuka. Connected to Yutorie is Yakuzen Café Gekiyaku, a delightfully quaint shop that overlooks Atami. It’s a serene place to enjoy a relaxing refreshment alongside Takehisa’s artwork. 

Curation Hotel Momoyama-gaen

Curation Hotel Momoyama-Gaen

Opened in March 2021, the Curation Hotel Momoyama-gaen is a former recreation facility that has been renovated into a comfortable space with five rooms including a Japanese-style one. The Asian Pacific winner of the “The International Hotel and Property Awards 2021” for hotels with under 50 rooms, it’s an elegant and stylish accommodation owned by an aspiring artist. This makes it an ideal location to host part of Atami’s art festival. Already boasting a hip and ultra-modern look, the artwork of Ryo Uchida simply accentuates this. A Shizuoka-native, she creates abstract paintings which seem like stacked layers of film. They blend in very well with the hotel’s furniture.  

Kiunkaku | Artwork by Ayaka Takagi

Kiunkaku

Built by shipping magnate Nobuya Uchida in 1919 to serve as his private villa, Kiunkaku was turned into a ryokan 28 years later, serving guests until 1999. Proving particularly popular with celebrities and famous authors, most notably Yukio Mishima and Nobel Prize-winner Yasunari Kawabata, it’s preserved as a tangible cultural asset that’s open to the public. Inside you’ll find a music hall, exhibition gallery, designs of the original guest rooms and Roman-style baths. The venue’s biggest attraction, though, is its delightful landscape garden. It’s the perfect spot for Ayaka Takagi’s artwork. She explores the uncertainty of perception and the reality of fiction by transposing real landscapes into layers of pictorial perception. 

NFT Character Image by Shu Yonezawa and Yuma Kishi

Best of the Rest

There are several other locations taking part in the festival. One of the biggest is the MOA Museum of Art which is showcasing the experimental video installations of Soshi Nakamura. Kouichi Ohno’s paintings related to human faces, meanwhile, are on display at the Atami Fish Market. Israeli artist Gali Sharf is exhibiting her sentimental and humourous pieces at NagisArt Café. The sculptural and atmospheric installations of Tokyo-based duo Kanae Tanikawa and Takeru Arai can be seen at the Acao Beach Entrance while Asako Fujikura presents her unique 3D landscapes at Acao Forest. Also at the locations, guests can scan QR codes to acquire NFTs for works by Yuma Kishi and Shu Yonezawa. 

More Info

When: Until Nov 27, 11:00–18:00

Where: Around Atami

Passport to see the works: ¥3,500, Student Discount ¥3,000 (some venues offer free admission).

Visit the official “Project Atami” website for more information.