Discover unseen art during “Art Week Tokyo”: Connecting Tokyo’s art scene in a four-day event

Event Reports

“Art Week Tokyo,” a four-day event from November 3 to 6, brings Tokyo to life with art. (※)

People often say that the autumn season deepens the appreciation of art. If you are considering visiting art spots in Tokyo in November, be sure to check out “Art Week Tokyo (AWT),” an international art event that kicked off in full swing in 2022. This event ran for four days, starting from November 3, 2022, with the participation of museums and galleries at the forefront of contemporary art in Tokyo.

In this column, we report the event based on the press conference and press tour held on October 27.


Explore art spots in Tokyo on the AWT BUS, which circulates on six different routes

Map indicating the AWT BUS route. The Imperial Palace’s outer gardens, where the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo is located, serve as the central point of the entire route. The six routes connect art spots dispersed in different areas, including the east, west, south, and north.

The primary focus of this event is the diverse range of exhibitions held at more than 50 museums and galleries. Most of these exhibitions can be seen not only during “Art Week Tokyo.”  But throughout the AWT period, the “AWT BUS,” a circulating bus connects these art facilities, operated as part of “an ecosystem that enhances access to Tokyo’s art scenes.”

By following AWT’s unique routes that link scattered art spaces in Tokyo, accessing each facility becomes much more convenient than usual. Moreover, the buses are free of charge when you present the official “AWT PASS” app. The six routes are interchangeable, and the next bus arrives every 15 minutes, allowing you to enjoy each art spot without worrying about time constraints. During AWT, you can easily explore galleries that would otherwise be too far from a station to reach.

A view of the inside of the AWT BUS during the press tour. The comfortable and spacious seating ensures a pleasant ride.

Tour a variety of fascinating exhibitions by participating institutions

It’s evident that the main content of the AWT, the exhibitions of participating institutions, is full of fascinating things to see. Some of them offer discount admissions by showing the official “AWT PASS” app. Here, we introduce a few of the places we visited on our press tour.

Installation view of “Rinko Kawauchi M/E On this sphere Endlessly interlinking” at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, which was in the AWT BUS Route F.

At the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (AWT BUS Route F: F1) in Hatsudai, Nishi-Shinjuku, photographer Rinko Kawauchi’s solo exhibition “Rinko Kawauchi M/E On this sphere Endlessly interlinking,” was being held at that time. It was her first solo exhibition in Japan in six years. We’ve learned that one of the series on display, titled “M/E,” represents “Mother,” “Earth,” and “ME (me).”  The works show the artist’s eye gently connecting the activities of nature, such as volcanoes and ice floes photographed in various locations, and the everyday life around her photographed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the photo and video exhibits, one of the highlights of this exhibition was the collaboration with the space created by architect Hideyuki Nakayama as a new experiment. Visitors could enjoy a 200 yen discount on the regular admission fee at this venue by showing AWT PASS app.

“Listen to the Sound of the Earth Turning: Our Wellbeing since the Pandemic” at Mori Art Museum in Roppongi (AWT BUS Route A: A6) showcased about 140 diverse works by 16 artists from Japan and abroad. By incorporating the text of Yoko Ono’s instructional artwork “The Sound of the Earth,” which was quoted in the exhibition title, visitors were encouraged to explore the exhibition with an imaginative perspective, potentially discovering insights on how to live better in a post-pandemic future. The exhibition, concluded on November 6, coinciding with the end of AWT. Visitors who presented the AWT PASS app were able to enjoy a reduced regular admission fee of 300 yen, making it a fantastic opportunity to experience the exhibition.

Installation view of “The eighth Tsubaki-kai Tsubaki-kai 8: This New World 2nd SEASON ‘QUEST’ ”at Shiseido Gallery, which was in AWT BUS Route D.

At Shiseido Gallery in Ginza (AWT BUS Route D: D4), “The eighth Tsubaki-kai Tsubaki-kai 8: This New World 2nd SEASON ‘QUEST’” by six artist groups was being held. (admission free)
The “Tsubaki-kai” is a group show launched in 1947 with the gallery’s reopening, following the wartime suspension of its activities, and has continued ever since with members changing over time. The 8th edition of the series, which started 2021 with the members of six artist groups, was based on the theme of “New World” of after COVID-19 pandemic. Members were Hiroshi Sugito, Ryuji Nakamura, Nerhol (Yoshihisa Tanaka and Ryuta Iida), Futoshi Miyagi, and Aiko Miyanaga, and [mé](Haruka Kojin, Kenji Minamikawa, and Hirofumi Masui). The sub-theme of this edition was “Quest,” aiming to deepen the relationships among the members and provided a sense of the planning process. The exhibition space was constructed like a single installation, presenting the relationships between the works rather than the perfection of individual pieces, creating an atmosphere of intimacy and security.

Original cocktails at pop-up AWT BAR exclusively during AWT

AWT also featured several unique programs, including a screening of a carefully selected video program by Adam Szymczyk, a Polish curator and artistic director of documenta 14; a roundtable discussion with curators from around the world, including Adam Szymczyk; and numerous online talks with a variety of guests.

Interior view of “AWT BAR.” Small, cave-like spaces separated by steel plates are scattered throughout the bar.

During the event period, the “AWT BAR,” designed by architect Motosuke Mandai, will serve as an information center during the daytime and as a bar after 6:00 p.m. in Minami Aoyama. The bar space was filled with a series of shapes that looked as if they were rounded pieces of paper cut in organic curves. What appeared to be as light as paper was, in fact, made of a 6 mm-thick steel plate. By gently deforming a single board, this freestanding structure had a cave-like space inside.

Architect Motosuke Mandai, who designed the AWT BAR.

The highlight of the bar’s drinks was an original cocktail created in collaboration with each of the four artists, including Rinko Kawauchi and Futoshi Miyagi. After enjoying an art tour by the AWT BUS, you may have wanted to stop by the AWT BAR for a cocktail and a discussion of the day’s artwork. The bar also offered a café menu.

Original cocktail created in collaboration with photographer Rinko Kawauchi.

“Art Week Tokyo is the best time to see Tokyo’s art scene,” as the starting point

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the press conference. From left, AWT Mobile Project Executive Committee member Mami Kataoka (Director of Mori Art Museum), AWT Director Atsuko Ninagawa (Director of Take Ninagawa), AWT Ambassador Kyoka Suzuki (actor), and Adeline Ooi (Director Asia of Art Basel, an AWT partner).

At a press conference held prior to the press tour, Atsuko Ninagawa, director of AWT and director of Take Ninagawa, said, “AWT aims to provide visitors with opportunities to explore the various areas that constitute Tokyo’s art scene and experience its diverse attractions. We have created an environment that allows visitors to start enjoying a wide range of activities from anywhere and at any time by using the official application AWT PASS,” appealing to the variety of ways to enjoy AWT and its accessibility for visitors.

Mami Kataoka, director of the Mori Art Museum and a member of the AWT Mobile Project Executive Committee, said, “Art Weeks and similar cultures have taken root in areas of the world where art is thriving. An Art Week brings the city to life with art, and people who want to know more about the local art scene come to the city during the period. Participating galleries present their highlighted exhibitions during the week, creating a positive cycle.” She spoke of the importance of establishing and promoting “Art Week” in Tokyo.

If you are interested, download the “AWT PASS.” That’s all you need to do to get ready

AWT PASS, a free, official application that can be used as soon as it is downloaded.(★)

All you need to participate in AWT is to download the free official application “AWT PASS,” which serves as your passport for using the AWT BUS, checking the real-time bus operation status on the map function, obtaining discounts on admission fees to each facility, participating in the stamp rally, and enjoying many other functions.
Whether or not you are thinking of enjoying art in Tokyo during the four days beginning on Culture Day, November 3, download the “AWT PASS” at first. No need to worry about where to go. During the event, AWT BUSes run here and there through Tokyo. Just hop on one of them, and you will find new encounters with art, artists, museums, and galleries at the next stop that will enrich your future.

The AWT BUS runs through Tokyo and is marked by the “AWT” logo. *The bus in the photo may differ from the livery that visitors will ride on that day.

Japanese original text: Nodoka Sakamoto
Photo: Shu Nakagawa (excluding ★)

Art Week Tokyo
Period: November 3 (Thurs./hol.)-November 6 (Sun.),2022
Hours: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
*Shuttle bus service hours. Please check the opening hours of each facility with your “AWT PASS” or on the official website of each facility.

November 7–10, 2024

Art Week Tokyo
Organizer: Japan Contemporary Art Platform
In collaboration with: Art Basel

Art Week Tokyo Mobile Project
Organizers: Tokyo Metropolitan Government/Art Week Tokyo Mobile Project Organizing Committee
Support: Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan