Tomo Museum in Tokyo
The Kikuchi Kanjitsu Memorial, Tomo Museum of Art opened in 2003 on a quiet hill in Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo, to introduce contemporary ceramic art based on the collection of Tomo Kikuchi (1923-2016), the founder of the museum and a collector of contemporary ceramic art. The site was the base for the activities of Tomo’s father, a businessman named Kanjitsu Kikuchi (1885-1967), in his later years, and the establishment of the museum was named the Kikuchi Kanjitsu Memorial in honor of his father’s legacy.
Right next to the museum is a Western-style building which was built in the Taisho era (1912-1926), creating a quiet and serene space in the middle of Tokyo. The museum holds a variety of exhibitions introducing outstanding works of arts, with a focus on contemporary ceramics, and continues its activities to become a center for contemporary crafts beyond the boundaries of ceramics.
Exhibition of Toko Shinoda
During June 18th to August 28th, there is an exhibition of Toko Shinoda (1913 – 2021) who expanded the possibility of Japanese calligraphy after the world war II as an artist and pioneered the expression of abstract painting using an Indian ink. The artisit was born in Dalian, China and grown up in Tokyo. Self-taught in calligraphy, she began working as a calligrapher in her 20s. Later, she began to create works that were not confined to traditional styles of calligraphy, and became known for her ink abstractions. In 1956 to 1958, she left for the U.S. and started her exhibition in New York where her art work built a reputation. She had continuously released her new art work until she passed away last Spring at age of 107.
We were able to join the museum tour hosted by the museum curator which was really interesting. The reason why they hosted the exhibition of Toko Shinoda is because she and the owner of the museum, Tomo Kikuchi were good friends and one of the art collectors who is an American gentleman got an opportunity to hold this exhibition after a few exhibitions of Toko Shinoda went succsessful in Tomo museum and other museums in Tokyo. Toko Shinoda never lost her passion to art even though she was over 100 years old and her art work continued to evolve while she was alive. Her contribution to modern art is attributable to integration of calligraphy and abstract painting which was quite unique when it was first introduced. We heard that she actually visted the Tomo museum at least for a few times. Her art work may look really simple but you could feel her view of the world that only she can bring out. It must have been extremely hard for her to build her career both in Japan and in the U.S. when most women were expected to be full-time housewife. I also liked the Kimonos exhibited in the museum that Toko Shinoda had painted which was actually a gift to Tomo Kikuchi, a friend of Toko Shinoda.
Cafe – Safu
After the museum tour, we had a quick break in the cafe inside the museum. A little Japanese garden that you can see from the cafe was very cozy and pretty. I had Japanese green tea which was really good. The good thing about this area (Toranomon area) is that it is not crowded and quiet during the weekends. There are not a lot of retaurants or places to visit as a tourist in Toranomon but if you want to take a little break from a crowd in Tokyo, this is definitely a good option.