National Art Center, Tokyo

Cold weather day = art viewing day

Jerome Lee
By Jerome Lee   - 3 min read

The compulsion to visit the National Art Center, Tokyo stemmed from two reasons: firstly because I am a slight photography and art enthusiast (more of the former than the latter), and secondly because of a conversation with a friend about what to do on bad weather days. “I usually just head to a gallery. Bad weather days are gallery days,” he theorised. Sounds like a really appealing option. After all, it was a terrible weather day and what better way than to spend it indoors and be fed with the nutrition of visual information? Well, the only determent was braving the nasty elements of the weather that day, but I'll make the effort to go anyway.

Getting off at Nogizaka Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line, it was a 5 minute walk before I reached the impressive-looking structure. Glass panels ran across the wavy surface of the building, reflecting the surrounding landscapes. If I thought the outside was already remarkable, the interior was way more, with illuminated wooden panels adorned the walls of the halls. The national government's fifth art institution organized under the umbrella of the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art, the architect for the museum was Kisho Kurokawa, who also commissioned the famous Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza!

Instead of maintaining a permanent collection, the National Art Center houses various exhibitions from time to time. At this point in time, the gallery is running an exhibition called The Power of Images: The National Museum of Ethnology Collection until June 9th 2014, an exhibition that showcases a plethora of objects used in religious rites and how they are, in one way or another, integrated into our globalized contemporary society.

At the time of visiting, the free exhibitions were categorised and exhibited on different levels: the sculpture exhibition on the first floor, a huge photography exhibition on the second and a printmaking exhibition on the third. All three exhibitions were a collective of the work of different artists put together, and being the photography buff I am I made headway for the photography exhibition. Some of the photography put up there were visually stunning in detail and composition, but one particular picture which I adored was the picture of a snowy landscape. The white of the land contrasted with the black of the forest and cabin, a minimalistic but powerful photo which in my opinion was really well-composited.

Lastly, for those in need of a break from art, the gallery also houses good restaurants such as the Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musee, a restaurant dishing out French cuisine at affordable prices, and the Salon de The Rond, which offers a selection of high tea delicacies for those in need of that afternoon break. National Art Centre Tokyo is a place where well curated art is on display, and even architecture/interior design enthusiasts would enjoy spending the day walking around the gallery just to appreciate the man-made visual spectacle that Kisho Kurokawa has put together.

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Jerome Lee

Jerome Lee @jerome.lee

Singaporean who lived in Melbourne, Australia for 3 years, and undertook a journalism degree. A lover of soul, funk music (Motown especially), and many other forms of music. Love meeting new people, and creative things (art, fashion, photography, design, films...). Currently working at JapanTrave...