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"Red Pumpkin" by Yayoi Kusama, 2006 / Miyanoura Port, Naoshima / Photo Credit: Daisuke Aochi

5 Art Spots to Admire the Works of Famed Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is a contemporary avant-garde artist whose unique pumpkin and polka dot-motif paintings and sculptures have amassed a huge worldwide following. This article introduces museums and other spots around Japan where people can see and experience Kusama's art.

Who Is Yayoi Kusama?

Yayoi Kusama, known for her unique artwork featuring patterns such as infinity nets and polka dots, is one of Japan's most famous avant-garde artists. Her long career as an artist spans a wide range of genres including painting, sculpture, illustration, performance art, and fashion. She is hugely popular worldwide with retrospectives held at major museums and famous brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Ferragamo, releasing products developed collaboratively with her.

YAYOI KUSAMA Great Gigantic Pumpkin,2017

Towada Art Center (Aomori Prefecture)

Towada Art Center—a place where one can have new experiences through art— is one of Aomori Prefecture's most popular spots. It has a permanent exhibition of 38 works by 33 current Japanese and international artists in its indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces.
Yayoi Kusama's "Love Forever, Singing in Towada" in the Art Square in front of the museum is a group of eight colorful polka dot sculptures, including a giant pumpkin, which is one of Towada's most representative works, as well as "Hanako-chan of Towada". A variety of items developed collaboratively with Kusama, such as cups, key holders, and T-shirts, are available in the museum shop, so be sure to purchase some as mementos.

"Love Forever, Singing in Towada" by Yayoi Kusama, 2010 / Photo Credit: Kuniya Oyamada

Towada Art Center (Aomori Prefecture)

2-10-9 Nishi, Towada-shi, Aomori

Matsumoto City Museum of Art (Nagano Prefecture)

Matsumoto City Museum of Art in Kusama's birth city of Matsumoto is a museum rooted in the local community, with artwork that reflects the area's mountains and a collection that features local artists, like Kusama, who have a deep connection to the region.
The museum features a large permanent collection which includes Kusama's iconic "Great Gigantic Pumpkin" sculpture as well as other sculptures and paintings. Visitors to the museum can enjoy the world of Kusama even before entering the building, starting with the 10m-high "The Visionary Flowers" sculpture in the plaza in front of the museum and the iconic Kusama polka dots on the exterior of the building, vending machines, and benches.

Exterior of the Matsumoto City Museum of Art

YAYOI KUSAMA Great Gigantic Pumpkin,2017

Matsumoto City Museum of Art (Nagano Prefecture)

4-2-22 Chuo, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building South Observatory (Tokyo)

The observatory on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government No. 1 Building is a popular tourist destination with a view of the city of Tokyo from 202m in the air. While there are beautiful views from both the North and South Observatories, only the South Observatory has an added attraction. There, guests will find a grand piano called "Tocho Omoide Piano" that is decorated with Kusama’s iconic polka dots. The piano can be played by anyone during opening hours, making this a unique opportunity to touch a work of art by a world-famous artist. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity!
*Refer to Observatory Homepage and Twitter for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building's opening hours
*The piano may not be available to play on during specific times.

"Tocho Omoide Piano", a collaboration with Yayoi Kusama, 2019

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building South Observatory (Tokyo)

2-8-1 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Naoshima (Kagawa Prefecture)

The small island of Naoshima on the Seto Inland Sea has a population of approximately 3,200 and is an art space, with works of art scattered all across it. The symbol of this island, and the first thing that greets visitors stepping off a boat in Miyanoura Port, is Kusama's huge red pumpkin. Some of the polka dots in this giant sculpture are hollow, meaning people can actually step inside the pumpkin and enjoy a view of the Seto Inland Sea from inside. Kusama's works that are at one with nature have a special appeal that is different from those found in museums.

"Red Pumpkin" by Yayoi Kusama, 2006 / Miyanoura Port, Naoshima / Photo Credit: Daisuke Aochi

Naoshima (Kagawa Prefecture)

2249-49 Miyanoura, Naoshima-cho, Kagawa-gun, Kagawa

Fukuoka Art Museum (Fukuoka Prefecture)

Fukuoka Art Museum is located on the grounds of Ohori Park, a popular spot among both tourists and locals. The museum houses a varied collection ranging from antiques (including items marked as Important Cultural Properties) to modern art and works by famous 20th-century artists including Dali, Milo, and Chagall.
"Pumpkin," which sits on the promenade of the courtyard on the second floor of the museum, is Kusama's first outdoor sculpture that she created in 1994. The charming shape of the plump, yellow pumpkin with its unique black polka dots is full of vitality and greets visitors with an uplifting energy.

SS Co., Ltd.Ueda Shinichiro

SS Co., Ltd.Ueda Shinichiro

"Pumpkin" by Yayoi Kusama, 1994

Fukuoka Art Museum (Fukuoka Prefecture)

1-6 Ohori Park, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka

Yayoi Kusama continues to be a powerful creative force in the world of art today. Be sure to see her work yourself and experience her energy, passion, and enthusiasm for art. Please check each facility's homepages for their hours of operation and schedules.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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