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Since the late 19th century, Japanese art has been schizophrenically split into yoga (Western-style) and nihonga (Japanese-style). The latter arose as a self-conscious response to the inroads of the former. Nevertheless, when nihonga took up the challenge of Western art, it was unable to avoid borrowing some of its ideas, most notably the romantically inflated concept of the “divine” artist. But instead of Michelangelo or van Gogh, nihonga found its role models in the elite artist/craftsmen of the Rinpa school. The Yamatane Museum of Art’s exhibition What Did Nihonga Learn from Rinpa? uses 50 mainly large works to look at echoes of the school in the works of 20th-century nihonga artists. Particularly worth seeing is Kaii Higashiyama’s vast seascape Rising Tide and Gyoshu Hayami’s Falling Camellias.

Through Dec 25. See exhibition listings (Ginza/ Kyobashi/ Tokyo) for details. CBL

Metropolis is offering readers ten free tickets to “What Did Nihonga Learn from Rinpa?” For your chance to see this excellent exhibition, email the following information by Wednesday, December 17, to

1. Name; 2. Address; 3. Age; 4. Home country; 5. Last exhibition you visited

Include the text “Nihonga” in the subject line. Winners will be selected at random.


775: Twelve Travels
773: Fuchu Biennial
769: Leonard Foujita
767: Andrew Wyeth
765: Tokyo in the 1930s
763: Treasures by Rinpa Masters
761: Yokohama Triennale 2008
759: Vermeer & The Delft Style
757: John Everett Millais
755: Avant Garde China
753: The Railway Museum
751: Parallel Worlds
749: George Raab: Canadian Wilderness Etchings
743: Daido Moriyama
741: Bauhaus Experience, Dessau
739: The Perry & Harris Exhibition
737: The House
735: XXIst Century Man
733: Kaii Higashiyama
731: Three Weeks of Art Celebration
729: Fashion + Art
727: New Horizons: The Collection of the Ishibashi Foundation
725: Yokoyama and Toulouse-Lautrec
723: Goth: Reality of the Departed World
721: Genesis Art Lounge
717: Tatsuya Matsui: Flower Robotics
715: Space for Your Future: Recombining the DNA of Art and Design
713: MoMA Design Store + Gallery White Room Tokyo
711: Roppongi Crossing 2007: Future Beats in Japanese Contemporary Art
709: Daikanyama Installation 2007
707: Nippon to Asobo
705: Marina Kappos at Tokyo Wonder Site
703: African-American Quilts: Women Piecing Memories and Dreams
701: Kids Earth Fund
699: The Mural Art of Kotohira-gu Shrine: Okyo, Jakuchu and Gantai
697: “Ayakashi” and “Odilon Redon”
695: Architects Around Town
693: Chocolate
691: My Civilization: Grayson Perry
689: Henry Darger: A Story of Girls At War—of Paradise Dreamed
687: Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia and Deco
685: Marlene Dumas: Broken White
683: The Mind of Leonardo: The Universal Genius at Work
681: Suntory Museum of Art and 21_21 Design Sight
679: Art Fair Tokyo 2007
677: Gregory Colbert: Ashes and Snow
675: The Door into Summer: The Age of Micropop
673: World of Kojima Usui Collection
671: Keeping TABs
669: The National Art Center, Tokyo
667: New Year’s Preview
665: Jason Teraoka: Neighbors
663: The 3rd Fuchu Biennale: On Beauty and Value
661: Bill Viola: Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)
659: Shinro Ohtake Zen-Kei
657: Prism: Contemporary Australian Art
655: The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium Exhibition
653: Luisa Lambri
651: Modern Paradise
649: The Legend of Ultraman
647: Nihonga Painting: Six Provocative Artists
645: Echigo-Tsumari Triennial
643: Art × Communication = Open!
641: YOROYORON: Tabaimo
639: Africa Remix
637: Mashcomix
635: Move On Asia and Hitoshi Nishiyama’s White Out
633: A Passion for Plants
631: Chikaku: Time and Memory in Japan
629: A Sense of You, Created by Me
627: Beautiful Cities in Dreams
626: 77 Million
625: No Border
623: The 9th Annual Taro Okamoto Memorial Award for Contemporary Art
621: Tokyo-Berlin/Berlin-Tokyo
619: Conversation With Art, On Art
617: Olafur Eliasson: Your light shadow
613: Mayumi Terada: New Works
611: Gerhard Richter: New Works
609: Hokusai
607: Stephan Balkenhol: Skulpturen und Reliefs
605: International Triennale of Contemporary Art 2005
603: CWAJ 50 Years of Print Show
601: Hiroshi Sugimoto: End of Time
599: Shinji Ohmaki: Echoes-Infinity
597: Miwa Yanagi
596: Cubism in Asia: Unbounded Dialogues
595: Canada Tsuga: The Feeling of Wood
594: Laurie Anderson: The Record of the Time
593: Today's artists X: Nishimura Morio/Matsumoto Yoko
592: Masaaki Yamada
591: Follow me!
590: Daido Moriyama: Buenos Aires
589: Mutsuro Sasaki: Flux Structure
588: Shinro Ohtake
587: Masterpieces of the Louvre Museum
586: Tabaimo: Yubibira
585: Yasumasa Morimura: Los Nuevos Caprichos
584: Julian Opie: Films and Paintings
583: Masterpieces of the museum island
582: The Elegance of Silence
581: Tapies
580: The world is a stage: Stories behind pictures
579: Shigejiro Sano At Play in the Esprit of Paris
578: The Body: Hitoshi Abe
577: Tenshin Okakura: The Awakening of Japan
576: Contemporary Spanish Photography: Ten Views
575:Taro Okamoto Memorial Award
574: Takeshi Tamai: Till Moss Grows On
573: Laura Owens
572: Alphonse Mucha: Treasures Of The Mucha Foundation
571: “Welcome, Welcome” Art-Beijing-Contemporary
570: The hidden side of Japanese art
569: Art Scope 2004: Cityscape Into Art—Michiko Shoji + Johannes Wohnseifer
568: Life Actually
567: Traces: Body and Idea in Contemporary Art
566: Mirrorical Returns: Marcel Duchamp and the 20th Century Art
565: Archilab: New Experiments In Architecture, Art and the City, 1950-2005
564: The Second Annual Fuchu Biennale
563: Have We Met?
561-2: Fluxus: Art Into Life
560: Christopher Wool
559: Pop Art and co.
558: Art & Money
557: Art of the Japanese Postcard
556: Yayoi Kusama: Eternity-Modernity
555: Ihei Kimura: The Man with the Camera
554: Wolfgang Tillmans: Freischwimmer
553: Emerging Generation
552: Larry Clark: Punk Picasso
551: Cool & Light: New Spirit in Craft Making
550: Angelo Mangiarotti: Un Percorso
549: Endo Akiko: Poetry of an Everlasting Life
548: Paris and Klein
547: Yoshitomo Nara: From the Depth of My Drawer
546: Colors: Viktor & Rolf & KCI
545: Micro Presence & Macro Presence
544: Non-sect Radical: Contemporary Photography III
543: Pastoral and Flowers in Modern French Painting
542: Collapsing Histories: time, space and memory
541: Supernatural Artificial
540: Jiro Takamatsu: Universe of His Thought
539: The World Press Photo 2004
538: I Dreamt of Flying: Noguchi Rika
537: Man Ray Exhibition: The Gift of His Vision
536: Why Not Live For Art?
535: Brazil: Body Nostalgia
534: n_ext: New Generation of Media Artists
533: Empty Garden II
532: Street Art in Africa: A Color Commotion
531: Modern Crafts and Design from the Museum Collection: Art Deco
530: And or Versus? : Adventures in Images
529: Modern Means
528: Remaking Modernism in Japan 1900-2000
527: Treasures of a Sacred Mountain: Kukai and Mount Koya
526: Jan Jansen: Master of Shoe Design
525: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Between Two Worlds
524: Beyond The Border: Seung H-Sang and Yung Ho Chnag
523: Testimony of Life: Ancient Roman Portraits from the Vatican Museums
522: I Love Art
521: "My" Siberia and "My" Earth: The 30 Year Memorial Retrospective Exhibition of Yasuo Kazuki
520: Time of My Life: Art with a Youthful Spirit
519: Joy of Life: Two Photographers from Africa-JD 'Okhai Ojeikere and Malick Sidibé
518: Roppongi Crossing: New Visions in Japanese Art 2004+Kusamatrix
517: Exposition Musee Marmottan Monet
516: Treasures of a Great Zen Temple: Nanzenji
515: Johannes Itten: Ways to Art
514: Meiji Kaigakan (Memorial Picture Gallery)
513: Kaii Higashiyama: One Man's Path
512: Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary after Film
511: Yasujiro Ozu: Japanese Film Master
509/10: End-of-the-year review and 2004 preview
508: Surface tension
507: Jean Nouvel
506: Makoto Aida: My Ken Ten
505: Gaudi: Exploring Form
504: Ino Tadataka and Old Maps of Japan/Fusuma Paintings of Jukoin
503: Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum
502: Happiness: A Survival Guide for Art and Life
501: Today's Man
500: Taro Shinoda: Helicopter 1

Issues 499-
Issues 449-
Issues 399-

By John McGee

End-of-the-year review and 2004 preview

Miraculous Avalokitesvara, Heian Period, Ryoko-in, National Treasure
For many years Tokyo has been the de facto contemporary art capital of the East. This year it actually lived up to the title. One reason was a number of special events surrounding the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Edo Shogunate. But more importantly, consolidation and new blood re-landscaped and improved the focus of the city's art geography while several bold shows gave the art scene some bite.

In January, the first of two new gallery complexes debuted in Shinkawa, near Kayabacho. Four major galleries joined forces in a former paper warehouse converted into large (by Tokyo standards), high-ceilinged, architecturally detailed spaces that epitomize art chic. Three of the year's best gallery shows were here-the museum-grade retrospective of photographer Nobuyoshi Araki at Taka Ishii Gallery, the Sumida River beer run performance and installation by Shimabuku at ShugoArts, and the cute, naive-style bikini girls of Shintaro Miyake at Tomio Koyama Gallery.

Meanwhile, Roppongi got a major cultural facelift. In April, a nest of galleries opened in the five-story Complex building: Hiromi Yoshii, Min Min, Ota Fine Arts, roentgenwerke, and Taro Nasu. At the same time, Tokyo's best (some might say only) art bar, the tiny Traumaris, opened on the first floor of the same building. It's something the city had long lacked-a central place for the art community to chill and swill together.

What really solidified High Touch Town as a new art center, however, was the October opening of the Mori Art Museum at the top of Roppongi Hills. With 6,000 visitors a day (10,000 on Saturdays and Sundays) to its inaugural show, "Happiness," the Mori has been near the top in attendance as well.

J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, Onile Gogoro or Akaba, 1975

Other positive signs for Tokyo's art scene were several shows that visited less familiar territory. "Neresi, Burasi: Turkish Art Today" at the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, introduced artists from around the Bosporus. "Under Construction" at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery and the Japan Foundation Forum gave insight into the contemporary art scenes of China, India, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines and Thailand. And "Girls Don't Cry" at Parco Museum had a slightly feminist edge, rare in Tokyo.

Next year's art schedule may not offer the fundamental changes of 2003, but there's plenty to look forward to. In January, Impressionism lovers can drool over work by Monet, Renoir and Caillebotte at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum's "The Marmottan Monet Museum Exhibition."

In February, the Mori Art Museum brings us "Roppongi Crossing," the first in a triennial series showcasing emerging artists working in Japan. Also in February, the Hara Museum will present "Photography from Africa," featuring Nigerian hairstyle photos by JD 'Okhai Ojeikere and street life documents by Malick Sidibé.

In April, the Tokyo National Museum will continue its fine programming (this year's "Kamakura: the Art of Zen Buddhism," "Fusuma of Juko-in" and "Old Maps of Japan" shows were outstanding) with "Treasures of a Sacred Mountain: Kukai and Mt Koya," an exhibition of National Treasures and other work usually hidden away in the mountain-top Buddhist temples of Wakayama Prefecture.

Mika Kato, Soda, oil on canvas on board, 2000, 196x196cm

Unfortunately the second installment of the Yokohama Triennale, slated to open in summer 2004, has been postponed due to location problems (not funding; it'll likely reappear in 2005). But this seems an isolated setback. All signs indicate that Tokyo has at last started to hit its stride.

"The Marmottan Monet Museum Exhibition," at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Jan 27-Mar 28.

"Treasures of a Sacred Mountain: Kukai and Mt Koya," at Tokyo National Museum, Apr 6-May 16. "Photography from Africa: JD 'Okhai Ojeikere and Malick Sidibé" at Hara Museum of Art, Feb 11-Apr 4.

"Roppongi Crossing: New Visions in Japanese Art 2004" at Mori Art Museum, Feb 7-Apr 11.
See exhibition listings for museum details.

Photo Credit: 1) Courtesy Tokyo National Museum; 2) © J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, courtesy C.A.A.C.-The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva; 3) © 2003 Mika Kato, courtesy Tomio Koyama Gallery