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added on : April 22, 2024

Modern and contemporary artworks in public spaces are a feature of cities around the world, and Tokyo is no exception. This kind of public art is free for everyone to look at, and plays an important role in shaping the cultural identity of a place. It provides opportunities for artists to connect with local communities, and encourages discussion and reflection on various issues. In Tokyo, you can walk around the striking artworks of the Marunouchi Street Gallery, or take a look at the permanent installations at Tokyo Midtown Yaesu, and Toranomon Hills Station.

Marunouchi Street Gallery

The Marunouchi Street Gallery is an outdoor art project where 19 modern and contemporary sculptures are displayed along and around the Marunouchi Nakadori Avenue. It’s easily accessible, just outside JR Tokyo Station (Marunouchi exits). First organized in 1972, the project celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022 as it aims to bring contemporary art to life and allow more people to encounter art in their everyday lives.
Some of the sculptures on display change every few years, and this is the 43rd edition. The current selection includes a work by Yayoi Kusama, featuring her signature pumpkin motif, as well as a bronze sheep piece by Henry Moore, and a work by Katsura Funakoshi, one of Japan's leading sculptors.

Katsura Funakoshi, I fly above the city, 2022

Yayoi Kusama, I am a pumpkin, 2013

Henry Moore, Working Model for Sheep Piece, 1971

Tokyo Midtown Yaesu

On the other side of Tokyo Station, you’ll find a number of public artworks in and around Tokyo Midtown Yaesu, the shopping complex which had its grand opening in March 2023. Out in front of the Tokyo Midtown Yaesu entrance you can find “STAR” created by Tokujin Yoshioka. This permanent installation is around 10 meters high, and made of over 2,000 octagonal and mirrored stainless steel rods, which reflect the sunlight to create a luminous sculpture. It represents a beacon of hope.
Outside, on the corner of Aogiri Street and Yanagi Dori Street, you’ll find “Mountain range” by Takashi Kuribayashi. His work often explores “boundaries,” and aims to reveal the “invisible world” where truth resides. This work uses the hanchiku (rammed earth) technique and soil collected from all over Japan to create strata, which reflect the layers of history and memory in Japan and Yaesu. The gray area in the center uses soil that the artist collected from 30 meters underground during the construction of Tokyo Midtown Yaesu. The cracked interior of the mountain is made of mirrors.
“Stripe drawing – Sunset reflection” by Nobuhiro Nakanishi is a work from 2022 which draws on Yaesu’s history as a waterside district criss-crossed by canals. Inspired by the evening sun reflecting on the water, it invites viewers to contemplate the flow of time.

©︎ Tokujin Yoshioka “STAR” 2022

©︎ Takashi Kuribayashi “Mountain range” 2022

©︎ Nobuhiro Nakanishi “Stripe drawing – Sunset reflection” 2022

Toranomon Hills Station

Inside the ticket gate on the second basement floor of Toranomon Hills Station on the Hibiya Line, you’ll find a large stained glass public artwork entitled “Our New World (Toranomon).” It was created by Asami Kiyokawa and unveiled in July 2023.
The work is made of stained glass with built-in LEDs, and measures approximately 2.7 meters in height and 6 meters in width. It uses a total of 3,351 pieces of glass of 243 types. Lens-shaped glass, which changes its appearance depending on the viewing angle, is layered on top of the stained glass to create a sense of three-dimensionality and movement.

Marunouchi Street Gallery

Address Marunouchi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo
URL Marunouchi Street Gallery

Tokyo Midtown Yaesu

Address 2-2-1 Yaesu, Chuo City, Tokyo
URL Tokyo Midtown Yaesu (JPN)

Toranomon Hills Station

Address 1-22-12 Toranomon, Minato City, Tokyo
URL Toranomon Hills Station

For up-to-date information on opening hours and further details please check the official websites.

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