Who Says Art Is Better at Street Level? The Mori Art Museum Reaches New Heights
Tokyo is a good, old-fashioned city with one million faces: in this sense, it’s one of the best. Its 23 districts flaunt unabashedly unique characters, and the city as a whole unrelentingly inundates residents and guests with images.
Everything from cats and cute boys to scenes of old Japan; modern kids pretending to be traditional, beguiling women and unhappy businessmen falling off platforms. It’ll leave you feeling bamboozled, and more than a little bit curious.
What is this place, and what does it really look like anyway?
Mori Tower, Roppongi
Tokyo piques your senses, and evokes emotions that people may have never experienced in their lives. Downtown, you’ll spot people with necks craned skywards, trying to get a better view. However there’s another way. Go to the Mori Tower in Roppongi, and take the lift to the 52nd floor: the Mori Art Museum will takes you even higher than the Skytree with the help of astral modern art.
Fun all around
Stationed on the Hibiya and Odeo lines, Roppongi is a cosmopolitan spot with a vast array of international restaurants, bars, Super Deluxe, a wealth of chic boutiques and the second best Starbucks in town (good foreign magazine selection) (number one is Tsutaya Books Daikanyama).
It’s a real treat then – and very Tokyo – to suddenly come upon a colossal metal spider at the entrance to Roppongi Hills, picking its way through all Roppongi’s glitz. Louise Bourgeois’s fabulous sculpture, Maman, seductively announces the vicinity of the Mori, whilst working electrically as a piece of street art.
So, you could either spend all day and night gallivanting around Roppongi, or follow the spiders’ invitation upstairs!
And if you happen to be a fiend for avant garde kawaii, its Mori gift shop is the shop for you (whilst Aoyama’s A to Z is the cafe for you). It has actual Nara, Kusama and Murakami sections. As well as some jolly nice polka dot baby-head vases, quality postcards, Comme des Garçons merchandise and many other essential souvenirs. Find it on the 1st floor. Afterwards, it may be time to head on up to the 52nd floor.
The Mori museum takes full advantage of it’s visitors’ lightheadedness, by pummeling them with fantastical and occasionally downright insane art; that’ll transport you out of Tokyo and into another world, as this city so loves to do.
A view you won’t forget
Before checking out the exhibition though, you can spacewalk over to the bar, observation deck or for an extra ¥500 the Sky Deck, to take a peek at Tokyo below. After having spent time down in the delicate, complex streets, it’s somehow shocking to come face to face with Tokyo as one enormous entity, in all its wired beauty.
The view is almost spellbinding enough to make you forget about the exhibition entirely, so be careful.
Exhibitions tend to be intriguing; often Japanese, contemporary, and featuring pretty wild video installations. The first time I visited I saw the exhibition ‘Phantom Limb’, featuring complex images (that) defy single interpretations and possess an ominous charm that exists somewhere between beauty and ugliness, life and death and the spiritual and the secular; and had my head blown clean off.
You may come back down to Tokyo with a clearer picture of what’s going on, or if not, just ten times more bewildered with an added pinch of ‘culture’. Either way, it’s worth it.
Open Wednesday to Monday 10am-10pm, Tuesdays 10am-5pm. Admission is ¥1,500.