Interview with Voice Actor Show Hayami Portraying Art Dealer Talking About Impressionism

Recommending Audio Guide Use


The series of articles meets with people involved in museum audio guides, such as an audio guide producer, to dig deeper into how to enjoy “listening” to art. This time, we interviewed the voice actor Show Hayami who provided the voice for the audio guide of “Frontiers of Impressionism: Paintings from the Worcester Art Museum,” which is on show from January 27 (Sat), 2024 at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.

Known for his attractive bass voice, Mr. Hayami has performed in wide-ranging genres, including anime, foreign films, TV commercials, and narration. In the exhibition audio guide, he plays the role of “an art dealer” and guides viewers into the world of Impressionist artworks to learn how the style was born and traveled across the sea. We met with Mr. Hayami, who had just finished recording the audio guide, and asked him about the recording, his thoughts on Impressionism, his favorite works in the exhibition, and his favorite art spots in Tokyo.


Feeling Light and Wind from 100 Yeas Ago Through Monet’s Water Lilies

──The exhibition “Frontiers of Impressionism: Paintings from the Worcester Art Museum” is widely talked about because the majority of the Impressionist paintings from the collection of the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, U.S., came to Japan for the first time. In addition to French Impressionists such as Monet and Renoir, the exhibition features German and Scandinavian Impressionists, as well as American Impressionists who have rarely been introduced in the country. I find it very interesting that the exhibition also displays the letters (reproductions) exchanged between art dealers and the museum, which actively collected Impressionist works since its opening in 1898. To start with, I would like to hear your impressions of the audio guide recording.

Show Hayami: Before, I only had a general idea of "Impressionism", but this opportunity allowed me to become more familiar with it. Impressionism originated in Paris in the late 19th century, so it has been about 150 years since its birth. Through the recording, I was reminded of the history of this artistic movement, which took place during the time of my great-great-grandfather.

Flyers for “Frontiers of Impressionism: Paintings from the Worcester Art Museum”

──You portrayed “an art dealer” with extensive knowledge of Impressionism. Were there any difficulties in preparing for the role?

Hayami: There weren’t many. In fact, I was able to take on the challenge as if I were remembering my own experienced memory. This is thanks to my favorite novelist Maha Harada. She has written many novels on the theme of art, and some of them feature works, painters, and galleries, including Impressionists like Monet. I have read quite a few of her works, so I felt familiar with the world of this audio guide. Although the recording time was short, I am left with a lingering feeling that I went on a fun trip.

Show Hayami, who just finished recording the audio guide. Standing in front of the exhibition poster

──You have done other audio guides in the past. Was this one any different from them?

Hayami: In the past, I often participated as a narrator, but this time, I was given a “role” as an art dealer, which was a significant difference. It was as if my character stood by the viewers appreciating a painting and escorted them, explaining about the work. It was more of "acting" as a guide than narrating, which gave me more freedom.

──Which artworks in the exhibition caught your attention?

Hayami: There are many, but the first piece that comes to mind is Monet’s Water Lilies (1908). I first saw a piece from the Water Lilies series in an art textbook in junior high school. At the time, I thought the painting looked blurry and wasn’t sure how to appreciate it. I preferred works with clear outlines and shadows, like those by Rembrandt, because they were easier to understand. However, revisiting Monet’s work as an adult, I realized they expressed light, and even wind, that must have been present in the scene. It is an outstanding painting.

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1908, oil on canvas, Worcester Art Museum
Museum Purchase, 1910.26/Image courtesy of the Worcester Art Museum
The Worcester Art Museum purchased the work in 1910, a year after Monet exhibited the Water Lilies series at the Durand-Ruel Gallery. The museum was the first in the world to purchase a Monet’s Water Lilies.

Our Eyes Become Palettes in front of Signac’s Works

──I completely understand what you said about being able to appreciate Impressionist paintings as an adult.

Hayami: Toward the end of his life, Monet continuously produced paintings of water lilies in the "aquatic garden" he had created. This piece is one of them. Monet, who is known to have loved Japan, also built a Japanese-style arched bridge in the garden, which he depicted in his paintings. I feel proud that he was fond of Japan. I feel close to him.

──What else did you find interesting?

Hayami: I liked Signac, the Pointillist painter. Colors are mixed not on canvas but on our eyes. Isn’t it interesting? Bright colors like yellow, blue, and pink are mixed as they enter the viewers’ eyes. I find the sensibility cutting-edge even today.

Paul Signac, Golfe Juan, 1896, oil on canvas, Worcester Art Museum
Gift from the Chapin and Mary Alexander Riley Collection, 1964.27/Image courtesy of the Worcester Art Museum
The piece by Paul Signac, one of the artists greatly influenced by Impressionism, depicts a Southern France resort, Golfe Juan, in the distance. The artist explored new paintings and adopted the Pointillist technique based on optics and color theory.

──Do you go to museums for pleasure?

Hayami: I have always liked classical and Renaissance art, so I often go to related exhibitions, but recently, I have started appreciating contemporary art as well. I like Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in Kiba, too.

──Are there any exhibitions that left an impression on you?

Hayami: The exhibition dedicated to Aiko Ishioka, “Eiko Ishioka: Blood, Sweat, and Tears—A Life of Design” (2020), was fantastic. I enjoyed seeing the details of costumes from my favorite movies. I was also impressed when I later watched the movies in which the costumes I encountered at the exhibition are used. I thought, “Wow, she made these!” Tadanori Yokoo’s works I saw at the museum’s permanent exhibition also left a vivid impression on me. He is one of the artists I didn’t quite understand when I was a child but now understand the philosophies of.

Mr. Hayami as “an art dealer”

──You like art a lot. Are there other museums or galleries in Tokyo that you like?

Hayami: I sometimes get an urge to go see the blue whale (outdoor exhibit) at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno. I collect fossils. My favorite is ammonites, so I often go to the museum to see them.

──Do you use an audio guide?

Hayami: I have used it some years ago, but because of my job, I get drawn to the audio and can’t concentrate on the exhibits (laughs).

──Viewing the exhibition with the audio guide by Mr. Hayami will bring the world from over 100 years ago closer to us and lead us to a more profound experience in appreciating the artworks. I look forward to listening to the guide as I view the works at the museum. Thank you very much for your time today.

Text: Emi Sato
Photo: Sachiko Saito
Translation: Erica Sawaguchi

©️ Rush Style

Show Hayami

Born in Hyogo Prefecture. He was a member of Seinenza Theater Company and Shiki Theatre Company before entering the world of voice acting. In addition to animation, foreign films, and narration, he produces and provides scenarios. He also performs as an artist at live reading events and dinner shows.
His representative works include the Macross series (Maximilian Jenius), Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai 2020 (Baran), Ascendance of a Bookworm (Ferdinand), BLEACH (Sosuke Aizen), Hawkeye (Jack Duquesne), and Kamen Rider Zero-One (Ark-Zero).

Frontiers of Impressionism: Paintings from the Worcester Art Museum
Dates: January 27 (Sat)–April 7 (Sun), 2024
Venue: Exhibition rooms at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Hours: 9:30–17:30, Fridays until 20:00 (last admission 30 minutes before the closing time)
Closed: Mondays, February 13 (Tue) *Open on February 12 (Mon, holiday), March 11 and 25 (Mon)
Timed entry reservations are required on weekends, holidays, and on and after April 2nd (Tue) (walk-in guests are accepted if space is available)
Official site: https://www.tobikan.jp/en/exhibition/2023_worcester.html

Official supporter: Oji Suzuka
Audio guide: Show Hayami
https://worcester2024.jp/guide/ (Japanese)