Hidden away on the far side of Shinagawa, off an alley which cuts behind the Laforet Hotel, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art is not the easiest place in the world to find. But tracking it down might be worth the effort, depending on which exhibition is currently showing.
Founded in 1979, the museum occupies the former home of Kunizo Hara, one of pre-war Japan’s most important business magnates. Constructed in 1938 in the Bauhaus style, this is one of the few residential buildings from the early Showa Era still standing in Tokyo. It was a period during which Japan was looking west for inspiration and the European influence can certainly be seen in the museum’s architecture.
Although there are a few permanent exhibits, mostly by Japanese artists, the museum is known for its excellent temporary collections, of which there are around five per year. So your enjoyment of the museum will be entirely dependent on the quality of the current show. Check the official website before embarking on the trek to the Hara.
We were lucky enough to see The Dream of Polifilo, which is the work of Nicolas Buffe, a Parisian-born artist who became obsessed with Japanese pop culture early in life, and moved here years ago. Using the museum itself as part of his canvas, Buffe transformed the Hara into a multimedia adventure based on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, one of the world’s earliest books, printed in 1499.
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art – Website
Nicolas Buffe – Website