Exploring Visual Imageries at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
Next to vibrant Shibuya, the chic town of Ebisu is often regarded as a classic urban picture sandwiched between the commercial hub and residential neighborhood of Naka Meguro.
With a history tracing as far back as 1928, its name naturally took off from the high quality Yebisu Beer, which established its brewery in the Shibuya ward in 1870. As the company grew, many workers flocked to Ebisu, forming consequently a rich community of history and retail development. This especially coincided with the rise of the sophisticated Yebisu Garden Place commercial complex in 1994 where the Sapporo Breweries (merged with Yebisu, the Japan Beer Brewery Co.) has been strategically positioned. Not only is the town dedicated to the laughing Ebisu god of fisheries and tradespeople, but has also added a cultural facility, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum right within the Yebisu Garden Place grounds. The museum has given the cozy locality, popular for excellent bars and restaurants, a colorful touch of art and leisure.
Opened in 1995, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum takes pride in being the only comprehensive public museum representing photography and moving images. It “acts as a center for supporting creativity in exploring the expressive possibilities of photography and recognizing potential artists by collecting, displaying, preserving, and studying photographic materials.” (Tokyo Photographic Art Museum). It also conducts workshops and participatory programs for promoting both local and international exchanges between photographers and artists.
The museum includes three exhibition galleries, a hall for film showings, Image Permanence Laboratory for preservation of photographs, studio for outreach programs and workshops with also a dark room and rental space for independent activities, Print Study Room for special viewing of the museum collection for research purposes, Media Lab with audio-visual equipment for research and seminars, library that stocks more than 30,000 works and 10,000 publications, museum shop, and a café in a relaxing atrium. Although the ticket booth is located on the first floor, the main entrance leads actually to the second floor, where the visitor is instantly greeted by natural illumination passing through the wall to ceiling window panels.
Having launched numerous exhibitions covering an impressive line of international photographers, such as Berenice Abbott, Martin Parr, Brassai, Alfred Stieglitz, Irving Penn, Mario Testino, Sebastiao Salgado, Man Ray, Mario Giacommelli, Erwin Blumenfeld, László Moholy-Nagy, Eugene Atget, and Japanese photographers Tadahiko Hayashi, Takahiko Iimura, Yoshio Watanabe, Hiroshi Hamaya, Akira Gomi, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Shigeichi Nagano, Nobuyoshi Araki, and more, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum has succeeded in deepening global appreciation of visual imagery and enhancement in the arts.
Currently, the museum is holding an exhibition of one of Japan’s prominent photographers from the mid ‘60s to the present, Daido Moriyama, in Moriyama Daido’s Tokyo: ongoing till September 22nd. Although originally from Osaka where he studied photography under the guidance of photographer Takeji Iwamiya, Moriyama moved to Tokyo in the 1960s and enhanced his photography skills with photographer and filmmaker Eiko Hosoe.
He would soon be recognized as the father of snapshots, wandering about, (“chorosuna”) shooting street life and objects randomly with grainy and obscure texture (“are-bure”), and remarkable black and white contrast for which his works have been widely known for. This particular exhibition showcases the bright and dark corners of Tokyo’s scenes in around 170 different angles in monochrome and color. Many works are taken from recent collections, such as Pretty Woman (2017), K (2017), and Tokyo Boogie Woogie (2018). Roving one’s eyes around the image panels gives the realistic sensation of actually being trapped in the center of Tokyo’s mysterious metropolis culture.
On a clear day, a step outside the museum would be perfect to stroll around the open plaza of the Yebisu Garden Place, stop by one of the terrace restaurants or cafés, or grab a pint of cold beer at the Sapporo Beer Station.
Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
〒153-0062 Yebisu Garden Place, 1-13-3 Mita Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Opening Hours: 10:00–18:00
Closed Mondays (except when Monday falls on a holiday, in which case the museum is open and closed the following day)
Access: Ebisu station, Yamanote Line, 7-minute walk
Moriyama Daido's Tokyo: ongoing
Until September 22, 2020
Admission: Adults ¥700