What art books did voice actor Soma Saito select?


Event Reports

Mobile bookstore BOOKBUS by VALUE BOOKS and voice actor Soma Saito at the plaza in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

TOKYO ART BOOK FAIR 2022 (TABF 2022) was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo from Thursday, October 27 to Sunday, October 30, 2022. Unique art books creators came together to showcase their works directly to visitors. Held since 2009, this edition marked its 12th occurrence. TABF 2022 hosted approximately 200 exhibitors from Japan and abroad, including publishers, galleries, artists, and printing houses. We invited voice actor Soma Saito to make purchases worth 20,000 yen at this event within one hour. He is an art enthusiast who frequently explores Tokyo’s art museums and is renowned for his avid reading habits. What did Mr. Saito select from the multitude of art books available?


Among the diverse art books, there was also an area where visitors could experience French publishing culture

TABF 2022 comprised four areas. In the ENTRANCE area, located near the museum’s entrance on the first floor, visitors encountered publishers, galleries, bookstores, and artists, including those who had recently embarked on their ventures or operated on a smaller scale. In the PRINTER area just behind them, one could find booths of printing, bookbinding, and paper-making companies. The EXHIBITION SPACE on the second basement floor  featured galleries, bookstores, and actively publishing artists. Meanwhile, the ZINE’S MATE in the atrium brought together independent artists and publishers.

A view of the TABF venue. Advance reservations were required to attend the event. Because of the large number of attendees, participants had to rotate every three hours.

TABF features a Guest Country program that highlights a single country or region, introducing its publishing culture. For the sixth edition, France was the focal point. Within the EXHIBITION SPACE on the second basement floor, there were the “Bouquinistes” area, reminiscent of the stalls along the Seine River; “60 Years of Yvon Lambert,” an exhibition space dedicated to Yvon Lambert, a prominent figure in the French contemporary art scene; and the “agnès b. loves art!” section, which allowed visitors to look back on the free art papers distributed at agnès b. shops and other locations.

The exhibition area of Three Star Books, a Paris-based publisher, “Three Star Books, are artworks.” These art books created under the creed “Artists are everything,” are just like contemporary artworks. The walls were adorned with paintings by Raphael Rosendahl, an artist based in New York with an international portfolio.

While experiencing firsthand French publishing culture, we immediately went shopping.

The first stop at the EXHIBITION SPACE, where overseas bookstores and publishers also exhibited, was torch press, known for publishing Rinko Kawauchi’s photo books and Ho Tzu-Nien’s exhibition catalog. What caught Mr. Saito’s eye was “Eugene Studio After the rainbow” which happened to be the catalog for an exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo from November 2021 to February 2022. Despite some surface scratches, it was priced at 3,000 yen (list price: 3,800 yen). TABF offers a unique opportunity to discover books not commonly found in general bookstores, often at attractive prices.

When he picked up a copy of the exhibition catalog for “Eugene Studio A new rainbow,” an exhibitor provided him with various information about the catalog.

Next, we went to the ZINE’S MATE in the atrium. This area, filled with numerous zines—booklets produced independently by individuals—also served as a place for discovering new talents. Amidst a selection of zines, books, stickers, tote bags, and other items, Mr. Saito’s attention was drawn to the SI RUIDA booth, showcasing a panel titled Visual Philosophy. “Visual Philosophy Thoughts on I and We” by illustrator and designer SI RUIDA is a graphic design book about life and the universe. It consists of illustrations and text created with a free, expressive style.

He purchased a copy of “Visual Philosophy Thoughts on I and We,” which came with a pouch. This all-English book is published by Swiss publisher Lars Müller Publishers, and the preface is written by Kenya Hara, whom the author studied graphic design with.

We then proceeded to the ENTRANCE on the first floor, where booths of publishers and other exhibitors lined the area. Among the publishers, such as Seigensha and HeHe, publishing exhibition catalogs and art-related books, as well as Nanarokusha, known for poetry collections and comics, there were also individual artists and JAXA, responsible for research and development in the field of aerospace. In the middle of the area, the 85th-anniversary issue of Hanatsubaki, a cultural magazine by Shiseido, which was celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2022, was distributed. In addition to books, T-shirts and other merchandise were also on sale, creating a vibrant atmosphere.

In such an area, a poster portraying a field of sunflowers in bloom caught Saito’s attention. This poster was from shushulina publishing, a label run by photographer Suilen Higashino. Mr. Saito found himself torn between choosing “Pendant 1957-2018,” and the photo book “Flower, Sound, Light,” which included a poster. “Pendant 1957-2018” contains photographs taken by Higashino’s Israeli grandfather some 60 years ago, as well as Higashino’s own photographs of capturing events around her from the past six years, up until 2018.

You can see the poster in the upper left corner. “Flowers, Sound, and Light” is a collection of photographs captured between 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was published in a limited edition of 700 copies.

Another booth that grabbed Mr. Saito’s attention at the ENTRANCE was YOU ARE HERE, with an eye-catching cover featuring a photograph of stones. Bohus Malmön is a collection of photographs capturing the island of Bohus Malmön in Sweden. It documented the summer of 2022 when Chikako Oguma, Kimiaki Tanigawa, and others visited the island. It also serves as a personal record of their time with friends and family who had invited them to the island.

Bohus Malmön Island is a rocky island measuring about 4 x 2 km in size. In the past, the area was used for granite mining. “Bohus Malmön,” which had just been published at the event time, is limited to 100 copies and was issued as a hand- numbered, private edition.

The area behind the ENTRANCE was the PRINTER. Exhibitors included Takeo, known for its wide variety of paper, Sun-M Color, specializing in exhibition catalogs and art books, and Tokyo Inshokan. Among them was ALBATRO DESIGN, a Tokyo-based design studio with its own printing facility, PRINT + PLANT, which offers letterpress printing, lithography, and other special processes. Mr. Saito decided to try the gacha vending machine, which offered cards with graphical motifs printed in letterpress.

Albatro Art Dass (ALCard) is a project that transform a trading card vending machine into a letterpress art card producer, making it easy to enjoy the relationship between letterpress and art. The resulting cards have a substantial thickness, and you can feel the bumps and dips created by the letterpress when you touch them.

Your own sensibility glimpsed through the art book you choose

After visiting all areas in about an hour, his shopping expedition came to an end. When we asked Mr. Saito for his thought on TABF 2022, he replied, “If I were given the opportunity, I would love to spend a whole day here. There were so many books and items related to a wide variety of art,” he said. From private zines created by individuals to books from publishers typically found in bookstores, TABF showcased a truly extensive range of genres, all  centered around art, including music, philosophy, natural science and more. Mr. Saito, who also presents his own music, seemed to be intrigued particularly by the music-related items. As he reflected on the items he purchased, Mr. Saito recalls, “I suppose I was in the mood to select something with a touch of warmth rather than something inorganic.”

Mr. Saito purchased “Eugene Studio After the rainbow” (3,000 yen) because he was attracted by the water artwork on the cover. He has a fondness of catalogs and occasionally buys them even after the associated exhibition has ended. He explains, “I often find inspiration for music pieces while browsing or reading through art books and photo collections.”
“Visual Philosophy Thoughts on I and We” (3,000 yen) caught his attention for the combination of the words “visual” and “philosophy.” He also appreciated the loose illustrations and remarked, “If I ever write something that is a bit dark fairy tale, I’d want to include illustrations with this kind of artistic touch. It made me think of 'The Little Prince.’”
“Pendant 1957-2018” (5,830 yen) was compiled on the occasion of Suilen Higashino's photo exhibition at VACANT in Harajuku in 2018. It features a collection of photographs by both her grandfather and Higashino, who gave a birth in 2012. “I had a feeling I could make an entire album with just this one book,” Mr. Saito remarked.
“Bohus Malmön” (4,000 yen) greatly resonated with Mr. Saito, a dedicated stone enthusiast who has been collecting stones since childhood. He even released a music piece titled “Kessho Sekai” (crystalline world).
Two letterpress-printed art cards were priced at 400 yen. The one on the left featured a motif reminiscent of Mr. Saito’s 3rd EP “Yin/Yang,” set released on December 7, 2022.

Shopping naturally reflects the emotions and personality of the buyer. TABF, where a diverse range of art books come together, can be described as a place where one can connect with their own sensibilities and experience serendipitous encounters with previously unknown things.

In addition to the above mentioned exhibitions and sales booths, TABF featured a special “Risopioneers” exhibition showcasing colorful risographs, and a “Kids’ Reading Room” offering French and Japanese picture books for children for the first time. During the fair period, talk sessions and workshops were also held on-site. TABF is basically held once a year, providing an opportunity to explore and acquire art books from various perspectives, continuously evolving with each edition. It’s a must-attend event for art and book enthusiasts, offering direct interaction with creators and the chance to discover favorite books.

Japanese original text: Maki Aikawa
Photo: Atsuko Kitaura
Translation: Kae Shigeno

Fair Period and Dates: Thursday, October 27, 2022 from 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Friday, October 28-Sunday, October 30, 2022 from 10:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo Exhibition Gallery B2F, Entrance Hall and other areas
Admission: 1,000 yen (including tax)

Fair Period and Dates: November 28 - December 1


[Exhibition Area (Exhibition Gallery B2F)]
Organized by Tokyo Art Book Fair, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Embassy of France in Japan,  Institut français du Japon
[Public Booth Area (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Entrance Hall and other areas)]
Organized by: Tokyo Art Book Fair
Special assistance provided by: Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Embassy of France in Japan/Institut français du Japon

Soma Saito
Born in Yamanashi Prefecture. Voice actor affiliated with 81produce Co., Ltd. His major works include Blue Rock (as Chigiri Hyoma), IDOLiSH7 (as Tenn Kujo), and Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash (as Lane Aim). He is also active as a singer on the SACRA MUSIC label.