If you’re in Japan this fall, there are a huge number of excellent exhibitions providing opportunities to enjoy Japanese art from a variety of perspectives. Traditional Japanese craft, retrospectives of Japanese masters, the impact of catastrophe on art, and international artists influenced by Japan; all are subjects for this fall’s exhibitions both in Tokyo and beyond.
Leslie Jungemann of GoSeeArtTokyo.com recommends her top picks of exhibitions you shouldn’t miss in Japan this fall. We begin in Tokyo – scroll down for more choices outside the capital.
1. Pierre Bonnard, The Never Ending Summer
Pierre Bonnard was a French artist and member of a group of post-Impressionist artists called the Nabis. Bonnard was very influenced by Japanese ukiyo-e, so much so that he was called le Nabi très Japonard. This retrospective includes paintings, sketches, prints and photographs from Japan and overseas, including works from the Bonnard collection at the Musée d’Orsay.
Insider tip: The National Art Center, Tokyo is located in the Roppongi Art Triangle. Check out our guide to discover all the art Roppongi has to offer.
When: From September 26 to December 17, 2018
Address: 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10am to 6pm; on Friday and Saturday until 9pm in September, until 8pm in October; closed Tuesdays
Access: Direct access from exit 6 of Tokyo Metro Nogizaka Station
2. Marcel Duchamp and Japanese Art
This project explores the beauty of Japanese art prior to Western influence by contrasting it with the works of Marcel Duchamp, the French-American artist whose art challenged Western ideals. The exhibition is an exchange between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Tokyo National Museum and presents two exhibitions together: The Essential Duchamp and Rediscovering Japan through Duchamp.
Insider tip: Tokyo National Museum is a large museum with simultaneous exhibitions and permanent displays in several buildings. If you would like to see everything on offer, plan to spend most of the day there. You can find some more information on the museum in our guide here.
When: From October 2 to December 9, 2018
Address: 13-9 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 9:30am to 5pm; until 9pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Oct 31 and Nov 1, closed Mondays (except Oct 8) and Tuesday, Oct 9.
Access: 10 min. walk from JR Ueno Station (Park exit) and Uguisudani Station; 15 min. walk from Keisei Ueno Station, Tokyo Metro Ueno Station and Tokyo Metro Nezu Station
3. Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s - 1990s
This joint effort by the national museums of Japan, Korea and Singapore includes 140 works of contemporary art from ten Asian regions and countries created from the 1960s to the 1990s. The exhibition compares and contrasts avant-garde art by more than 90 artists and contains paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, videos, performances and installations.
Insider tip: The exhibition ticket includes admission to the museum’s permanent collection on the 2nd to 4th floors. You can also buy a combination ticket that includes the Crafts Gallery, which is a 10-minute walk down the street.
When: October 10 - December 24, 2018
Address: 3-1 Kitanomaru-koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10am to 5pm; until 8pm on Friday and Saturday; closed Mondays
Access: 5 min walk from Exit 1b of Tokyo Metro Takebashi station
4. MINGEI - Another Kind of Art
If you are lucky enough to spend some time in Japan, you quickly come to appreciate Japanese craftsmanship. Mingei is the word for handicrafts made by anonymous people and this exhibition will feature over 100 items of traditional and contemporary craft, highlighting the craftsmen and their customs, process and creativity.
Insider tip: The mingei exhibition is in Galleries 1 and 2. The adjacent Gallery 3 features frequent, free exhibitions dedicated to design.
When: From November 2, 2018 to February 24, 2019
Address: 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10am to 7pm, closed Tuesdays and New Year holidays
Access: 5 min. walk from Roppongi or Nogizaka subway stations
5. Catastrophe and the Power of Art
This exhibition examines the role art plays in dealing with both catastrophe and recovery. From terrorism to refugee crises to environmental changes and an unknown future, art can document perspectives, expose contradictions or express grief and loss. Works commemorating the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake will be displayed with the works of up-and-coming artists and established superstars of the contemporary art world, some of which are showing in Japan for the first time.
Insider tip: Your ticket to the Mori Art Museum includes admission to Tokyo City View, an indoor observation deck with incredible views of the Tokyo skyline. Beautiful both day and night.
When: October 6, 2018 to January 20, 2019
Address: 53F, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10am to 10pm; until 5pm on Tuesdays; open every day
Access: Direct access to Roppongi Hills through the concourse from 1c exit of Roppongi Station (Hibiya Line); 4 min. walk from exit 3 of Roppongi Station (Oedo Line) ; 5 min. walk from exit 7 of Azabu-juban Station (Oedo Line); 8 min.walk from exit 4 of Azabu-juban Station (Namboku Line); 10 min. walk from exit 5 of Nogizaka Station
6. Yokoyama Taikan VS Great Masters of Japanese Painting
The commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Taikan’s birth continues with this special exhibition. Taikan painted thousands of works, including depictions of Mount Fuji, portraits, natural landscapes, and flowers and birds, using bold compositions. His work is displayed side by side with works of the same theme by other painters, other masters of Japanese modern art, in sets, allowing viewers to compare each painter’s style.
Insider tip: The Adachi Museum is known for its garden, which is 165,000 square meters and contains ponds, a waterfall, a moss garden, and pine trees. Learn more about the five types of authentic Japanese gardens by reading our guide.
When: Until November 30, 2018
Address: 320 Furukawa-cho, Yasugi, Shimane
Hours: 9am to 5pm, open every day
Access: There are free shuttle buses from the JR Yasugi Station.
7. Language and Art: Takashi Hiraide and the Artists
Takashi Hiraide, a poet and author, explores the connections between language and art. He has written art books and experimented with book design. The exhibition uses his unique perspective to identify and highlight words and published works that relate to the works of other artists. The display design by architect Jun Aoki aims to convey the concept of books in space, when words take on visual aspects.
Insider tip: The museum’s permanent collection is worth the trip on its own, especially if you’re a fan of Frank Stella or Mark Rothko, whose Seagram Murals are displayed in a room constructed specifically for their permanent display.
When: October 6, 2018 to January 14, 2019
Address: 631 Sakado, Sakura, Chiba Pref.
Hours: 9:30am to 5pm, closed Mondays (except Oct 8, Dec 24 and Jan 14), Oct 9, Dec 25 - Jan 1
Access: There are free shuttle buses from the Sakura Station on the JR Sobu Line and the Keisei Sakura Station.
8. Tetsuro Komai: A Pioneer of Modern Japanese Copperplate Prints
Over 200 works, including prints and illustrations, as well as about 80 works by related artists, are included in this retrospective of Komai’s work. He interacted with musicians and poets, was a member of a cross-disciplinary art group, and was influenced by his love of Western art. The exhibition demonstrates his chronological development and explores his influences and his connections with other artists.
Insider tip: The MARK IS commercial complex is directly across the plaza from the museum and offers a variety of shopping and dining selections.
When: October 13 to December 16, 2018
Address: 3-4-1, Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Hours: 10am to 6pm, closed Thursdays
Access: 3 min. walk from exit 3 of Minatomirai Station; 10 min. walk via the moving sidewalk from the Sakuragicho Station
9. Foujita: A Retrospective Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of his Death
This retrospective of the Japanese/French artist Léonard Tsuguhara Foujita encompasses over 120 works, assembled from all over the world, from all periods of the artist’s life. The exhibition highlights his particular style, both personal and artistic, which might be described as his brand today. The works include his portraits and self-portraits, milky white nudes, art from his travels, his war paintings, and concludes with the art inspired by his conversion to Catholicism. And cats are a theme throughout.
Insider tip: In addition to special exhibitions, the museum routinely changes the works featured in their Collection Gallery. Selected works include nihonga, yoga (Western-style painting), prints, sculpture, crafts and photography from the museum collection.
When: October 19 to December 16, 2018
Address: 26-1, Okazaki Enshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Hours: 9:30am to 5pm, until 8pm Friday and Saturday, closed Mondays
Access: 10 min. walk from Higashiyama subway station
Leslie Jungemann is an art lover who feels very fortunate to live in Tokyo. Her website GoSeeArtTokyo.com provides clear, concise information for English speakers about Tokyo’s best art exhibitions.