Translated by Chieko Suda
Play With Art: The Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum, Aoyama
The Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum is unlike any other - with an art garden and canvases displayed without frames, here you can get in touch with art as the artist intended.
Written by Marina Wada
Local museums are one of the must-see spots when you go sightseeing. However, photography is often prohibited in most of the museums in Japan, in order to protect the intellectual property rights or copyright of the works. But sometimes just seeing the art isn't enough...
When you feel like that, why not visit the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum in Aoyama?
A Small Art-filled Forest in Aoyama
If you take along the backstreets of Aoyama, beyond the brand name boutiques, you will come across a small jungle. This is the museum full of greenery - the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum.
Curious sculptures greet you in the garden on the right when you enter the gate.
Cute, but a bit strange aren't they!?
"Play" with Art and Understand Taro Okamoto's Philosophy
Taro Okamoto was a Japanese artist born in 1911. He spent from 1929 to 1940 in France as a member of the abstract art community and was a part of the Surrealism movement. His most famous artwork is the Taiyo-no-to (Tower of the Sun) which was the symbol of the Japan World Exposition held in 1970 in Osaka. You can see a miniature of this piece at the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum.
Okamoto is known for his eccentric words: "Art is an explosion!" He hated conventional and existing arts and aimed for expression in a freer style. The Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum naturally follows in this philosophy. Although photography is normally prohibited in museums, you can freely take pictures in this museum. Not only that, but you can also touch the sculptures in the garden. The children playing in the museum looked so excited.
Take off your shoes as you enter the museum; it has a very casual atmosphere, very unlike other museums or galleries. Here you will find children running about, and adults taking plenty of photos; everyone seems to be relaxedly appreciating the arts here.
Taro Okamura's atelier on the first floor where you will find rows upon rows of his paintings. You can certainly feel his presence throughout this space and from the works so casually displayed here.
The garden seen from the atelier looks very unique and mysterious.
These cute and rare "Taro Okamoto Capsule Toys" would be nice for a souvenir!
Take a Break at the Cafe "a Piece of Cake"
If you get tired after or while exploring the museum, take a break at "a Piece of Cake", the cafe beside the museum. You can use the cafe even if you don't enter the museum itself, so it's also a nice place to visit when you are out shopping in Aoyama.
Taking a relaxing teatime here with a slice of specially made cake and a cappucino as you overlook the garden is wonderful. If you would like to visit a museum that isn't like any other, then please visit the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum here in Aoyama.
Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum
Address: 6-1-19, Minami-Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo 107-0062
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (final admission 17:30)
Closed: Tuesdays (except for national holidays), year-end (28 Dec-4 Jan)
Wi-Fi: Not available
Other Languages: Some English
Nearest Station: Omotesando Station (表参道駅), Tokyo Metro Chiyoda/Ginza/Hanzomon lines
Access: 8 minute walk from Omotesando station
Admission Fee: General 600 yen, Elementary age children 300 yen
Phone Number: 03-3406-0801
Website: Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum
a Piece of Cake