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Experience Ukiyo-e In One Of Japan's Trendiest Cities, Harajuku

Experience Ukiyo-e In One Of Japan's Trendiest Cities, Harajuku

Translated by GonzalezLaura

Written by Natsumi Endo

Tokyo 2015.10.12 Bookmark

The Ōta Memorial Museum of Art features ukiyo-e paintings, a popular painting style in Japan over 200 years ago, in one of Japan's trendiest cities, Harajuku.


If there's one place you need to know about in Japan it's Harajuku: a city that originates various trends: from popular crepe shops and cafes to Laforet.

Even nowadays, you can enjoy ukiyo-e, a style of art that was immensely popular during the Edo period (1603-1868), in Harajuku. Today, we'll tell you about the Ōta Memorial Museum of Art, which has the largest exhibition of ukiyo-e paintings in Tokyo.

Boasting the Greatest Collection of Ukiyo-e in the Greater Metropolitan Area

Here we'll introduce you ukiyo-e's appeal, as well as how to appreciate ukiyo-e, as taught to us by Kenji Hinohara Kenji, the head curator at Ōta Memorial Museum of Art.


First, tell us - what's so special about this museum?
Hinohara: "Well, for starters, it's situated in Harajuku. One of the characteristics of this museum is that, in one of the cities that originates a lot of current Japanese popular culture, you can take a look Japanese popular culture from around 200 years ago."

Indeed, it's pretty cool to be able to take in old Japanese culture, in such a culturally relevant city in modern day Japan. It would definitely be worthwhile experiencing the ties between the two totally different eras.


Next, for our audiences from overseas, we'd like you to tell us how to approach, and take in ukiyo-e.

Hinohara: "How to view ukiyo-e really varies from person to person. If you're interested in modern Japan, you might think of it in terms of today's manga. In fact, manga characters actually originate from ukiyo-e, and you could say its really the origin of a lot of pop culture. Additionally if you're into traditional Japanese art and Western impressionistic art, then you'll probably view it from a art history perspective.

Well, that makes sense. Also, a person's country and culture will greatly impact how much interest, curiosity they'll have towards Japan. In accordance with that, you'll get to see how different people view ukiyo-e differently. Even for me, a Japanese person, this information is quite useful.

Lastly, we'd like for you to tell us what your favorite ukiyo-e piece is!
Hinohara: "I like a lot of pieces, but today I would say I'm feeling like Tsukioka Yoshitoshi."

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi is an extremely poopular ukiyo-e artist that was mainly active from the Bakumatsu period, to the Meiji Period, and used a lot of red in his paintings. It might be fun to eventually be able to choose what your favorite work is, based on how you're feeling that day, just like Mr. Hinohara.

Thanks for giving us such valuable information Mr. Hinohara!

Stunning exhibitions lined up, one after the other!

The Ōta Memorial Museum of Art uses the works in their storage, to constantly put up enthralling displays. Closed from November 2015 to February 2016, the museum is now back in full-swing, with many incredible exhibitions lined up. For details on their upcoming events, please refer to their schedule here.

How to get to Ōta Memorial Museum of Art


Taking the JR Yamanote Line, or the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, would be the easiest way to get to the Ōta Memorial Museum of Art.

Taking the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line

1. Get off at Meiji-jingumae Station from the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda or Fukutoshin Lines.
2. Go through the ticket gates, head outExit 5.
3. At the top of the stairs, go straight, away from the intersection, in the direction of Harajuku station.
4. Make a right turn when you passSenbikiya. You should see a sign directing you towards the museum.
5. Keep going straight, and on your left hand side, you'll find the Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art.

Taking the JR Yamanote Line

1. Get off at Harajuku Station from the JR Yamanote Line.
2. Go through the Takeshita Street Exit ticket gates, and then go down Omotesando towards the direction of Aoyama.
3. Take a left turn at the road that's just ahead of the Omotesando Softbank Store.
4. You should see the Ōta Memorial Museum of Art immediately after turning left.

It's pretty interesting to think that Harajuku, a city that originates so much of today's pop culture, is where a museum which houses the pop culture of Japan from 200 years ago is located. For those interested in Japanese culture, Ōta Memorial Museum of Art is a total must-see!


Ōta Memorial Museum of Art

Address: 1-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Exhibition hours: 10:30-17:30 (no entrance after 17:00)
Closed: Mondays (as a general rule, exhibitions changed every Monday)
Other Languages: Support in English available
Nearest station: Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line Jingumae Station; JR Yamanote Line, Harajuku Station
Access: Please reference
Price: General admission 700 yen; High school, university student 500 yen; Middle school aged students and under free (may vary according to the exhibition)
Phone Number: 03-3403−0880
Website: Ōta Memorial Museum of Art

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The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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