Roppongi Art Night

Works from all genres transform area into mesmeric gallery

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Those looking for an immersive introduction to Japan’s contemporary art, need to look no further than Roppongi Art Night. Rather than taking classes or visiting the myriad galleries across Tokyo, for one night art fans can explore this world of art by visiting Roppongi.

Tokyo’s Roppongi district is not only known as a lively entertainment district, but also as a vibrant center for art in Japan. Taking advantage of this, Roppongi Art Night began in 2009 as an all-night art festival that lasts until well past sunrise the next day.

This year’s program lasts 32 hours, from 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 26, through 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 27. The core time is a 12-hour period from 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday, when many of the main installations and events will be held.

Most of the events and performances are free at Roppongi Art Night, which will make use of various facilities, including Roppongi Hills, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo Midtown, Suntory Museum of Art, 21_21 Design Sight, The National Art Center, Tokyo, the Roppongi shopping district and public spaces.

‘hanging colors’ | KENGO KITO

One of the legends for Roppongi Art Night’s ninth edition is none other than Yoko Ono. This year’s theme is “The City Dreams of Art” and Ono will have her “Dream” calligraphy work displayed on giant banners at three venues in Roppongi. Stickers of her artwork will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the Roppongi Hills Arena.

“Visitors will experience amazing art installations and performances as if watching the beautiful dreams that the city has one night unfold before their eyes,” said Fumio Nanjo, chairperson of the Roppongi Art Night Executive Committee. “A wide range of artworks awaits discovery at each location, including a singing tower, moving sculpture and waterfall of colorful fabric.”

This last sentence describes the works of the three headliners for this year’s event.

The singing tower is a work by Kyoto-born artist Teppei Kaneuji. Simply called “Tower,” the sculptural work integrates singing, music, choreography and video installations to create different performances throughout the night at Roppongi Hills Arena.

The moving sculpture is called “Dragonhead House,” and consists of a vehicle and other materials that make it look like the jaws of the mythical beast. Tokyo-born artist UJINO will give a performance while speaking about his work at Tokyo Midtown Canopy Square.

The waterfall of colorful fabric will cover the glass facade of The National Art Center, Tokyo, evoking different feelings from day to night. Kengo Kito calls his work “hanging colors.”

‘Dream’ | ©YOKO ONO

Another sight to see is the “The Giant of Lights” by German puppet theater company DUNDU. During this first visit to Japan, the group will bring their glowing puppets — one of which is 5 meters tall — for performances at three locations across Roppongi Art Night.

Even those who frequent Roppongi will be delightfully surprised by the colorful artwork in public areas such as Roppongi Crossing, the main intersection of the district. Artist Chia-Hsin Su, born in Taipei and based in San Francisco, will decorate the piers of the intersection with a work called “Lost in Memories,” featuring brightly colored images in various patterns that evoke his idea of Roppongi.

Besides performances and installations, there are also workshops and interactive events, so there is sure to be something that will pique every visitor’s curiosity at Roppongi Art Night.

There’s also little need to worry about last trains. Free shuttle buses to and from the Roppongi Keyakizaka area will be available for the following areas of Tokyo: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Kichijoji, Kokubunji and Tachikawa. The buses will operate from around midnight on Saturday until the early morning of Sunday.

Roppongi Art Night 2018 takes place at various locations in the Roppongi district of Tokyo’s Minato Ward from 10 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday. Core time is from 6 p.m. May 26 to 6 a.m. May 27. Cost: Free (fees may be required for certain programs and museum events). For more information, call 03-5777-8600 (8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily), or visit Guided tour in English, “Lost in Art Translation”