This year has been a memorable one for art exhibitions at museums in Tokyo, with a surprisingly diverse array of shows and events, ancient and modern, foreign and domestic, metropolitan and provincial.

As usual, a pivotal point early in the calendar was provided by Art Fair Tokyo. Held in early March at Tokyo International Forum, it was a typically bustling affair that seemed to point in several different directions at once — cutting-edge contemporary art jostled with antiques, ceramics and nihonga (Japanese-style painting). This reminded us, once again, that the art scene here has several more boxes to tick than elsewhere: providing a conduit for traditional Japanese culture and identity while also helping the country keep in touch with international avant-garde trends and the hegemonic culture (and historical canon) of the West.

There was plenty to see at AFT, but I was especially impressed by painter Kazuki Takamatsu, who uses multiple layers of translucent gouache to give his otherwise cute figures an ethereal and ghostlike quality.