Tokyo is one of the cities in the world that constantly holds art exhibitions of famous artists. Whenever you go, you could always find some attracting art exhibitions going on to discover and learn about Japanese culture. Thus, Tokyo can be said as a must-go city for every art lover.


1. Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic

The story of Christopher Robin, the clumsy world-famous bear Winnie-the-Pooh and friends was written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. In 1973, Shepard donated over 270 items such as his original drawings to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, which is the organiser of this exhibition. A variety of items like original books, toys, sketches and letters by Shepard will be exhibited to reveal the original inspiration of Shepard in creating Winnie-the-Pooh. The organizer even invited the starring role of NHK’s morning drama “Laughing Tianjia (わろてんか)” as a voice commentator of this exhibition. It’s definitely a must-go for the fans of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Date: 9 February – 14 April 2019. Closed on 19 February and 12 March
Location: B1F Bunkamura, 2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


2. Alvar Aalto- Second Nature

Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) was an iconic Finnish architect whose designs range from private houses to public buildings. His famous artworks are Villa Mairea, Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Paimio, and Viipuri (Vyborg) Library. Other than being an architect, he would also design the furniture and other furnishings, right down to wall tiles and doorknobs. His works were meticulously designed that shapes him to be so well-known around the world where one could say that he was a symbol of Finnish designer. Aalto’s works were grounded in humanism with the purpose of enriching people’s lives, and his designs were special as he was good at incorporating the organic forms he discovered from the natural landscapes of Finland into his buildings and designs. About 20 historical architectural models, 40 original drawings and 80 pieces of furniture, lamps and glass ware are displayed.

Date: 16 February- 14 April 2019. Closed on Mondays.
Location: Embassy of Finland in Tokyo, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


3. Leiko Ikemura Our Planet – Earth & Stars

Ikemura’s well-known drawings are small creatures and innocent girls, mothers and children, human figures merging with trees and mountains, and mythical primeval scenes that evoke birth and death. She is a contemporary artist that works on blend painting, drawing, sculpture, watercolor, print, photography and video into installations that address gender issues and other societal observations. This exhibition is her largest solo exhibition, attempting to show 40 years of her creative work and artistic development as an organism. The retrospective and present-oriented exhibition of paintings, sculptures and drawings stages 16 installations in which the plethora of media in the artist’s work as well as the central themes of embodiment and transformation can relate to each other.

Date: 18 January – 1 April 2019. Closed on Tuesdays.
Location: The National Art Center, Tokyo (Kokuritsu-Shin-Bijutsukan), Special Exhibition Gallery 1E, 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo


4. The Treasures and the Tradition of “Lâle” in the Ottoman Empire

This exhibition is held in conjunction with the Turkey Culture Year. It is also held as a bridge to foster the international relationships between Japan and Turkey. In Turkish, lâle means the tulip. It was venerated as a symbol of the empire. The tulip was a popular motif in literature and art, which can be seen in the arts and artefacts of the Ottoman Empire. This exhibition presents works that is decorated with tulip patterns, providing viewers with an insight of the elegant Ottoman court culture, such as the drawing on artifacts from the Topkapi Palace and the sultans’ treasures. This exhibition is a golden opportunity for people who have an interest in exploring the culture and history of Turkey.

Date: 20 March – 20 May 2019. Closed on Tuesdays (except for April 30)
Location: The National Art Center, Tokyo (Kokuritsu-Shin-Bijutsukan), Special Exhibition Gallery 2E, 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo


5. Vienna on the Path to Modernism

Early twentieth-century Vienna was a city flourished with creativity in many fields, which are paintings, drawings, musics and so on. Artistically, it was an incubator for twentieth-century modernism. Example of artists that were blooming during that period were painters such as Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Egon Schiele (1890-1918), and Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980), the architect Otto Wagner (1841-1918), Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), Adolf Loos (1870-1933), and the designer Koloman Moser (1868-1918), heralding a golden age of modern art and design. About 400 masterpieces of the second half of the 18th century and the Biedermeier period with works by such major fin de siècle artists as Klimt, Schiele, the Viennese Secessionists, Kokoschka, Otto Wagner, the Wiener Werkstätte and Adolf Loos will be exhibited. It is inarguably a must-see for Viennese artworks lover!

Date: 4 April – August 2019. Closed on Tuesdays (except for April 30)
Location: The National Art Center, Tokyo (Kokuritsu-Shin-Bijutsukan), Special Exhibition Gallery 1E, 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo


6. Hokusai Updated

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✨🏛🗻🌊🗻🏛✨ 『新・北斎展 HOKUSAI UPDATED』 2019.1.17 (木)~3.24 (日) @森アーツセンターギャラリー   北斎20歳のデビュー作から90歳の絶筆まで 約480点の貴重な作品展 (会期中展示替えあり) 待望の大規模北斎展  日本初公開となる、北斎が88歳で描いた 「向日葵(ひまわり)図」 近年発見された 「かな手本忠臣蔵」など見所満載  監修者の永田生慈氏 北斎研究のため収集した作品は 2017年に一括して故郷の島根県に寄贈 この永田コレクションは出品された後 島根県のみで公開されるため 永田コレクション最後の東京公開   音声ガイドは 貫地谷しほりさんと神田松之丞さん 六期に分かれて展示されてるので とても分かりやすいです 北斎のイメージって やっぱり富士山と冨嶽三十六景 現代の風景を描いたら どんな素晴らしい感じになるんだろうな~  同フロアのカフェで コラボメニューも楽しめます 赤富士カレー食べたかった🤤   #新北斎展HOKUSAIUPDATED #新北斎展 #HOKUSAIUPDATED #森アーツセンターギャラリー #MoriArtsCenterGallery #六本木 #六本木ヒルズ #東京 #roppongi #roppongihills #tokyo #混雑 #混雑しすぎ #葛飾北斎 #冨嶽三十六景 #赤富士 #向日葵図 #弘法大師修法図 #浮世絵 #浮世絵師 #永田生慈 #永田コレクション #美術館 #展覧会 #アート #art #ukiyoe #展覧会好き #美術館好き

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Whenever you mention the name Hokusai, people will immediately think of “Great Wave” and “Hokusai Manga”, which is an indication of how famous he is and his signature artworks. These works triggered the Japonisme craze in Europe in the 19th century. Hokusai family name was Kawamura and he was said to be called Tokitaro when young. He produced a great diversity of works as a painter, illustrator, ukiyo-e artist and master painter from his debut at age 20 until his death at age 90. Hokusai has changed his pen names thirty times and moved from one place to another even more times as his interests were always altered. The best known “Hokusai” is one of his pen names, used in his middle age. Approximately 480 valuable works to total will be showcased, some of which exhibited for the first time in Japan, revealing the “updated” artworks Hokusai that are longed to be seen by the public.

Date: 17 January – 24 March 2019
Location: Mori Arts Center Gallery (52F), Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo


7. Gustav Klimt: Vienna – Japan 1900

Viennese artist Gustav Klimt, who started to flourish his artworks during Fin-de-siècle period, was popular in drawing opulent decorative characters, sensual portraits of women, and landscapes. Artistically, his landscape artworks are greatly influenced by the Japanese culture.

Date: 23 April – 10 July 2019
Location: Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 8-36 Ueno-Park Taito-ku, Tokyo


8. Shiota Chiharu: The Soul Trembles

Shiota Chiharu is an Osaka-born Berlin-based artist that drawn inspiration by exploring the presence of psychological concepts, which includes anxiety, identity, dreams, and silence and how these elements influence us throughout our journey of life. In 2015, Shiota Chiharu represented Japan at the Venice Biennale with her installation The Key in the Hand, this event shaped her to be famous. After that, she has been exhibiting in various cities around the world and this year, her largest-ever solo exhibition will be held at the Mori Art Museum. This is good opportunity for deep-thinkers to explore more about thought-provoking art.

Date: 20 June – 27 October 2019
Location: Mori Arts Center Gallery, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo


9. Fifth Anniversary Exhibition: All-Stars of the Okada Collection

art exhibitions tokyo 2019

Credits: Okada Museum

A Japanese billionaire Japanese collected and housed a wide variety of incredible Japanese, Korean, and Chinese artworks in the Okada Museum, which has now turned five years old. Okada museum is grand and impressive as it stretches five storeys high, displaying famous masterpieces such as the Japanese ukiyo-e piece Snow In Fukagawa by Kitagawa Utamaro as well as work by celebrated artists Jakuchu Ito, Korin Ogata, and arguably Japanese history’s most famous artist, Hokusai. Over 450 pieces of jade, glass, metalwork, and Buddhist paintings are displayed. Although this is an hour trip outside Tokyo, being able to get a chance to peek at such precious artworks will definitely make the trip worthwhile.

Date: 30 September 2018 -30 March 2019
Location: Okada Museum of Art, 493-1 Kowakudani, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa


10. Lineage of Eccentrics: The Miraculous World of Edo Painting

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24日 東京都美術館 奇想の系譜展 LINEAGE OF ECCENTRICS THE MIRACULOUS WORLD OF EDO PAINTING 江戸時代の浮世絵画家、伊藤若冲や歌川国芳、曾我蕭白など6人の奇想な題材の作品が揃って、面白く見応えありました。 つい最近描いたかのように鮮やかな色彩、現代的なデザイン、迷いの無い豪快かつ緻密な絵。圧倒的な画力。くすりと笑える独特な画風、ユーモア感。動き出しそうというより、動いてる!と思える、絵の中の生き物たち。画面から溢れ出る生命力が、それを描いた作家達の生きる強さを感じさせました。絵から力をもらうというより、どれもこれも凄すぎて、絵に力を吸い取られたような気がしたわ。そうやって、あの絵達は生きてるのかもしれない。 良いモノを見れました。

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This exhibition displays a series of colorful and bizarre paintings from the most imaginative world of Edo works of art, then Tokyo Metropolitan’s Lineage of Eccentrics exhibit has you covered. Based on art historian Nobuo Tsuji’s 1970 book ‘Lineage of Eccentrics’, this exhibition gathers the powerfully imaginative artworks of top-notch artists during the Edo period for the first time.

Date: February 9-April 7, 2019
Location: Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 8-36 Ueno-Park Taito-ku, Tokyo

All in all, these are the must-go art exhibitions of Tokyo for year 2019. Remember to check on the dates before going to avoid missing it!

Your Japan Staff
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