Kusama Museum

Some of the famous pumpkins

Yayoi Kusama might be the most well-known (and eccentric) modern artist living in Japan today, and last year she opened a jewel of a museum to showcase a rotating sample of her life’s work.

There are five floors, but each one is like a single room

The first floor houses reception and the gift shop, the second is devoted to her early works (paintings, sculpture and videos), the third to her recent large paintings, and the fourth to a lit-up Infinity Mirror installation called “Pumpkins Screaming About Love Beyond Infinity.” The fifth floor hosts a reading room and terrace with a selfie-friendly pumpkin to pose with.

Photos weren’t allowed on the third floor, so I borrowed one from TokyoArtBeat to show you the sculpture “The Passing Winter” (2005), which allows visitors to view the surrounding paintings in an entirely crazy (and typically Kusama) way. The shot on the right is what you see if you look inside! (photos by Michelle Zacharias)
The only piece on the fourth floor is a darkened room surrounding an infinity mirror cube, with glowing pumpkins inside. They cycle through brightening and fading in various combinations, appearing to go on endlessly in all directions inside the one-way mirrored enclosure. (Visitors are only allowed inside the darkened space six at a time, and each group’s time is limited, so be ready to take pictures as soon as you go in, just sayin’)
Half of the top floor is open to the sky, with an iridescent tiled pumpkin keeping the skyline view company
The elevator that takes you back down to the exit is a nice bonus surprise – a classic infinity mirror room, with YOU as the subject

These were the works on display at the time I was there, but they change all the time, so be prepared that there will be different ones when you go.

Open: Thurs-Sun and national holidays, closed Mon-Tues-Wed

Hours: 11:00 – 17:30

Admission: Adults ¥1000, Children 6-18 ¥600


How to get tickets and go to the Yayoi Kusama Museum

Getting tickets is the tricky part. You have to buy them online, months in advance, because they only allow a few people into the museum at a time, in 90-minute time slots, and they sell out fast. Here’s how to get yours:

1: Three months before you plan to go, visit the Kusama Museum website and navigate to the English ticket buying page. Tickets are available three months in advance. A new month’s tickets become available on the first of each month, so (for example) if you plan to visit the museum the week of May 20th, go to the website on March 1, when the May tickets are released.

2: Be ready to choose your date and time (each ticket is only good for a particular 90-minute slot). Navigate the easy English instructions and buy your tickets by credit card.

3: Your tickets will be emailed to your phone, and they will scan the QC code at the door when it’s time for you to enter. You can stay for 90 minutes before they chase you out, but that’s actually plenty of time to see everything.

Here’s what your tickets will look like, and a screen shot of the instructions they send prior to your visit

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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