The Marunouchi Building and the Shin-Marunouchi Building are located in the Marunouchi district at Tokyo Station, the gateway to Tokyo. This summer, enormous murals will appear on the huge glass walls of the two buildings, which stand side by side. The name of this project is SUPER WALL ART TOKYO. I asked the members of Drill Inc. (four people, including HOSOKAWA Naoya), who are planning and managing this project, and ENOMOTO Ryoichi of ATAMATOTE International, who is collaborating with them, about this work of art.
“The two walls together exceed 7,500 m² in size. Our starting point for this project was to send out a symbolic message to the world about wonders of Japanese culture and art so that people would remember how great it was even decades later. At this size, I think it is one of the largest public art murals ever created anywhere in the world.” (Hosokawa)
YOKOO Tadanori and YOKOO Mimi approved of this challenge and took on the responsibility of creating the artwork. “Both artists agreed with the concept that by having the two murals in dialog with each other and by producing a relationship that allowed the two murals to construct a single world, we would be able to express a grander story; and through various discussions, it was decided that ‘fire’ and ‘water’ would be the themes.” (Enomoto)
The concept of this project is “Universe COSMO POWER.”
As a graphic designer, illustrator, and painter, YOKOO Tadanori has always been a trailblazer in his genre and has developed his artistic career with a great deal of energy. He has a deep, strong passion for art, and has also deepened the scope of his expressiveness from the everyday world to the worlds of myth and spirituality. He has the desire to capture fundamental energy, and YOKOO Mimi has the boldness to make the attempt. I think the most important thing achieved might be the successful creation of a work of art imbued with significant meaning beyond that of a festive monument as a symbol of the power of art.” (Enomoto)
“Many legendary statements were already made during our discussion about the production process! (Laughter) Everything YOKOO Tadanori says, like ‘Never calculate too much’, is a pearl of wisdom. I think the process itself is part of the art.” (Hosokawa)
YOKOO Tadanori’s theme was “Water (aqua)”. YOKOO Mimi’s theme was “Fire (ignis)”. The work of both artists will be displayed on enormous twin walls.
“Using the motif of waterfalls, which he has been working with for a long time, Tadanori has built ‘Water’ out of more than 2,000 selections from his vast and diverse collection of postcards. In contrast to the falling water, ‘Fire’ rises high into the sky. The two are correlated like the cycle of life. Each of them is also incredibly detailed. I hope that people use binoculars or similar so they can have fun exploring it both from afar and from up close.” (Enomoto)
“These murals will be released during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021, and in the meantime, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world’s values and viewpoints in various ways. However, I think that the powerful message this work of art sends out is something universal. These murals could probably not have been completed by anyone other than YOKOO Tadanori and YOKOO Mimi. I want people to realize that the power of art persists even amidst changing times.” (Hosokawa)
The walls of the Marunouchi Building and the Shin-Marunouchi Building right in front of Tokyo Station will become a giant canvas this summer. SUPER WALL ART TOKYO is a tribute to life by the artists YOKOO Tadanori and YOKOO Mimi. It is a limited-time release.
Event period: Saturday, July 17, 2021 – Sunday, September 5, 2021
Location: Marunouchi Building (2-4-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) and
Shin-Marunouchi Building (1-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)
Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1936. Artist. Held a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1972. Since then, he has participated in biennales in Paris, Venice, Sao Paulo, and other countries, and he has held solo exhibitions at art galleries around the world, including the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain. He received the Praemium Imperiale in 2015 and was made an Honorary Citizen of Tokyo in 2020. He will be holding a large-scale solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo from July 17.
Painter. Had her exhibition debut at the Tadanori & Mimi YOKOO exhibition in 1994. Since her solo exhibition in 1995, she has exhibited all around Japan, including Tokyo. She was in charge of the “PLEATS PLEASE ISSEY MIYAKE MILLENNIUM, Spring Summer 2000” campaign in 2000. Recent collaborations include “me ISSEY MIYAKE ‘MIMI YOKOO’” part one (in 2017) and part three (in 2020).
This project taught me that art is truly amazing. I believe that art is the pursuit of humanity, but I feel that this showed me the true power of art. No matter how much the world’s viewpoint changes, we can send a message that transcends that change.
I have been involved in a number of public art events, including Cow Parade Tokyo, the Marunouchi Street Museum, the Osaka Art Scramble, and Osaka×Milano Design Link. I want as many people as possible to experience the kind of emotional jolt that cannot be put into words when suddenly encounters art out on the street.
Lines of society that become fixed and create stagnation; lines of division between people that grow higher and become more extreme; lines of individuals who unconsciously become atrophied in their behavior. The ability to create and to view art makes aware of the boundaries that exist in these different layers and gives us the power to overcome them. I believe that art will be even more necessary in the future.
I believe that art has been a source for the ideas that have brought about progress in science, society, and humanity itself in each era. It still has that role even in these difficult times; and in fact, that may be its most important sensibility. In this modern age of technological advancement where anyone can produce “artistic” output, it is my hope that the people responsible for the future will experience the power of art anew, take inspiration from it, and come up with innumerable ideas that are richer and more original than ever.
If we focus too much on the art market, we might prioritize strategic expression. I’m concerned that the strong message put out by original art will be diluted. Unlike those artists, I think YOKOO Tadanori is an artist who believes in the power of art, and I would like to rethink the question of meaning he is expressing through his works of art.
Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13
SUPER WALL ART TOKYO
Did you know that public baths are the hottest thing in Tokyo right now? By which, I don’t mean that the temperature of the water has been turned up. This hot event is an artistic experience you can have at public baths. This event, TOKYO SENTO Festival 2020, will present art from public baths, which have been popular gathering places since the olden days. It is now held from May 26, 2021 through collaboration with some of Japan’s leading artists. (The date May 26 — specifically, the numbers 5-2-6 (go-fu-ro) — is a pun on the words “go bath” day in Japanese.)
TOKYO SENTO Festival 2020 has three main attractions: the Sento Art Project, Noren Art, and the Stamp Rally. The Sento Art Project is that some of Japan’s leading artists in various fields paint works of art in each four Tokyo bathhouses. The art at one of them was originally painted by YAMAZAKI Mari, the manga artist who wrote Thermae Romae, and then turned into murals under the supervision of bathhouse painter TANAKA Mizuki. I was eager to see it, so I headed over to Hachiman-Yu near Yoyogi-Hachiman Station.
Recreated in 2021 Tokyo
Hachiman-Yu, located near Yoyogi-Hachiman Station, has the atmosphere of an old-fashioned public bathhouse from the Showa era. The artwork by Yamazaki depicts a scene from a day at the ancient Olympics, with the balaneion as its theme. The balaneion was a communal bathing facility that existed in ancient Greece from the fifth century BC onward. On the wall of the women’s bath (which I entered), there was a painting of Greek goddesses from Mount Olympus watching the men on the ground exercising. I couldn’t peek into the men’s bath (naturally!), but the bathroom was decorated with both original paintings. At this location, Yamazaki did the original paintings, and Tanaka, who is one of very few female bathhouse painters in Japan, supervised and completed the project.
Now that I had seen the bathhouse art at Hachiman-Yu, my interest in the other three works of art was piqued, and my desire to go see them increased. However, as enjoyable as this mural art is, it’s really important to take care that you don’t get carried away and become lightheaded. It is, after all, a public bath.
Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13
TOKYO SENTO Festival 2020
Full of attractions that are only possible with live streaming, such as close-up views of musicians playing Japanese musical instruments!
Kagurazaka is a town that retains the land divisions of the Edo period. Just one block away from the main street is a quaint, cobblestone lane with a streetscape that still maintains its Edo period look. Kagurazaka Street Stage O-edo Tour 2021 is a traditional arts festival being held for the ninth time this year in a town that I am personally in love with.
This time, due to the impact of COVID-19, all programs on Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23 were live-streamed. The fortunate benefits of video streaming include the ability to get a more thorough, up-close view of traditional performing arts in various genres. All programs can now be streamed from the archives, so please check them out.
This report will showcase two of those programs.
Saturday, May 22, 12:00–13:30
A live broadcast from the tatami room at Shimakin, an eel restaurant in Kagurazaka that was founded 150 years ago. The kimono-wearing guide is Cyril Coppini, a French rakugo performer with a perfect Japanese sense of humor. This program lets you enjoy the performing arts of Edo for about 90 minutes.
OKAMURA Shintaro and OKAMURA Ai (sou Japanese harp), SHONO Bunzan (shakuhachi bamboo flute)
HONJOH Maruhide and HONJOH Hideeiji (hauta music)
Kagurazaka Geisha Ladies (dancing and more)
The unknown world of “ozashiki play” was particularly interesting. Before the war, Kagurazaka had about 600 geishas, but today, I hear there are only 20. By the way, the white face makeup was so that they would look beautiful in candlelight. Indeed.
After enjoying the wonderful arts of singing, shamisen playing, ohayashi music, and dance performed by actual geishas, it was time for the long-awaited games! This is something that apparently happens while guests are enjoying drinks between meals in the tatami room. This program offers a glimpse of elegant games such as “tora-tora” (rock-paper-scissors played using the body while singing “Tora! Tora! Tora!” while separated by folding screens) and “chrysanthemum flowers” (each person turns over an upside-down sake cup, and the person who gets the chrysanthemum flower must pour and drink sake equal to the number of turned-over sake cups).
Sunday, May 23, 12:00–13:30
This was a live broadcast from THEGLEE, a live music club in Kagurazaka, by artists with connections to Kagurazaka.
Shakuhachi Quartet GMQ (shakuhachi bamboo flute)
Seshami Street Boys (Tsugaru shamisen performance)
MANABE Naoyuki (sho)
Tone (shakuhachi bamboo flute, koto harp, and guitar)
Deities’ Enjoyment Live Performance was scheduled to take place in the precincts of Akagi-jinja Shrine, whose history spans more than 700 years. The performance began with a shakuhachi quartet formed from members who graduated from the Department of Traditional Japanese Music at Tokyo University of the Arts (nickname: Geidai). It began with a statement by the members of GMQ that they were the “Geidai Misfits Quartet” (laughter).
Then, for about 90 minutes, I experienced a performance that overturned my preconceptions about Japanese musical instruments. After I finished watching it live, I had a better sense of the depth of those instruments. There was the sho, an instrument played by the Japanese since the Heian period; the shakuhachi, an instrument that sounds much like a human voice (and nowadays, even metal shakuhachis exist!); an acrobatic shamisen performance; and so on. I was in constant amazement at the superbly crafted modern pieces that could be played with those instruments.
This festival is held by both the town of Kagurazaka and traditional performing artists working together. I hope to be able to feel the presence of the town and experience the festival in person next year, but this year’s festival can only be enjoyed online from home, so please check it out!
Traditional Arts Festival: Kagurazaka Street Stage O-edo Tour 2021Official Website
Legendary Tamatebako (Treasure Box) – Tama Traditional Culture Festival 2021 was held online through streaming video on Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30. This is an arts and culture event that brings together the traditional culture of the Tama region, with a diverse program that includes Kuruma Ningyo, Ohayashi, Rural Kabuki, and Shadow Play. In this report, we showcase Gakugeki Takao-san – Heike Bisyounen Aisetsutan, Enjoy the Local Play! Akigawa Kabuki, and SHIKISAI – Dyeing Dance Performance.
Gakugeki Takao-san begins with comments by Nohgaku player YAMANAKA Gasho and SATO Shujin, chief priest of Takao-san Yakuo-in Temple. This is followed by the main performance, which is introduced by the sound of a conch and a shomyo chant declaration by Buddhist monks. Not only is this declaration part of a collaboration with Yakuo-in Temple, but artists with connections to the area were also involved with the costume design and biwa artistry, which is key to the story, creating a stage that is unique and filled with local color. The performance is based on Noh play called Tsunemasa, and the utai lyrics emanate from the deepest recesses of the body, expressing the cry of one’s soul. The lyrics overflow with both grace and sadness, and even after the broadcast finished, a lingering sensation remained that had us dumbfounded for a while. Repeat broadcasts from Wednesday, August 25 to Tuesday, August 31 2021(for a fee) are planned, so be sure to watch the website for further information.
Akigawa Kabuki is a performance in the Rural Kabuki genre with local actors that presents an endearing worldview. The act titled Kanadehonchushingura Shichidanme Gionichirikijayanoba was punctuated with timely contemporary stories and numerous chuckleworthy moments. Most importantly, the dialogue by the two youths was snappy and really great. All told, we felt the spirit of the performers as they passed on traditional culture with great care.
Furthermore, there’s SHIKISAI. This dance performance, directed by the world-renowned MAYA, focuses on the dyeing industry in Hachioji. Inspired by stories told to her by artisans and the looms of the factories she visited, she actually incorporated braided cords into her dances and used loom sound samples. She also makes effective use of lighting to represent unique textiles, clothing, and thread, dyeing the stage in color while paying homage to the dyeing and culture industry. You can check it out in the archived videos.
See the videos here.
Legendary Tamatebako (Treasure Box) – Official YouTube Channel
Legendary Tamatebako (Treasure Box)
– Tama Traditional Culture Festival 2021 –
*This information is current as of June 30, 2021. Please see each program’s official website for the latest information.
I love movies and technology. I travel around Tokyo by bicycle. I enjoy the scenes of daily life that I experience while riding, like the smell of dinner.
I love movies and entertainment in general, traditional crafts, and manufacturing sites. I believe that intuition is important today. I like cats and try to get close whenever I see one.
I love contemporary art, movies, and music. I’ve also become interested in traditional performing arts recently. I also have a weakness for good food and watching sports.