＜Exhibition＞ Taro Okamoto. The Original Image of Japan. Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum until February 24, 2020. Photos by the artist of his journey through Jōmon, Tōhoku and Okinawa.
“The Original Image of Japan”, an exhibition of photographs by internationally renowned surrealist artist, Tarō Okamoto, will be held at Tokyo’s Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum (6-1-19 Aoyama, Minato-ku) until February 24th, 2020.
Taro Okamoto (1911-1996) is well-known for the “Tower of the Sun” sculptural building that became the symbol of Osaka’s Expo ’70.
The photographs in this exhibition, taken in the 1950s and 60s, document Okamoto’s yearning for Japan’s prehistoric Jōmon culture, and his travels through poverty-stricken Tōhoku and US-occupied Okinawa in search of the true Japanese essence.
This is what Akiomi Hirano, director of the museum, has to say about the current exhibition:
“Taro Okamoto was a person who continually asked the question, ‘What is Japan?’ Having decided to leave Paris and return home to fight for Japan, Taro had a fateful encounter one day in November 1951. It occurred at the Tokyo National Museum when he came across some Jōmon-period pottery. The primitive yet sturdy bounty of a hunting people who pursued game in their struggle to survive, their strong vitality representing a magical spirit that conversed with an invisible force. When Taro discovered this aesthetic, which is the complete opposite of the restraint displayed by traditional Japanese beauty, he felt sure that, ‘This is the true Japan.’ Approximately five years later, he set out on a journey to discover the true essence of Japanese culture and at his first destination, the Tōhoku region, he encountered the ‘magical spirit’ of primitive Japan. In this poverty-stricken part of the country, that is cut off from the rest of the country during the winter months, he caught a glimpse of the original image of Japan. Two years later, in 1959, he traveled to Okinawa prior to its restoration to Japanese rule, and what he discovered there was the ‘Japan’ that contemporary people had pushed to one side and lost. In the pure lives of the Okinawan people he could discern his own roots and those of the whole Japanese race. This discovery must have delighted him. Taro’s journey through the Jōmon, Tōhoku, Okinawa…was a voyage of discovery in search for ‘the original Japan’, ‘the forgotten Japan’, or to put it another way, ‘the real Japan.’ The music played in the quiet exhibition hall is made originally by jazz bassist Takashi Sugawa. We hope that you will come and see the ‘deep, rich Japan’ that caught his eye through this exhibition of the photographs taken by Taro himself.”
Akiomi Hirano, Director, Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum
Period: October 30, 2019 – February 24, 2020.
Times: 10:11 – 18:00 (last admission 17:30)
Closed: Tuesdays (except on public holidays). Closed December 28, 2019 – January 4, 2020.
Access: 8 minutes’ walk from Omote-Sando Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza, Chiyōda and Hanzōmon subway lines.
Admission: General 650 yen; Elementary school students 300 yen.
Official Site: http://www.taro-okamoto.or.jp/en/