▲Built in 2014 and designed by Kume Sekkei in Japan, the 5-story museum is a completely white building, inside and out. (Photo from https://www.gq.com.tw/life/travel/content-33317.html)
Yayoi Kusama is an internationally renowned artist with creations displayed at the Venice Biennial, and held as classics in museums worldwide. Yayoi Kusama’s work can be seen in various large and small exhibition spaces in Japan, such as Mori Art Museum, Art Setouchi. But to see a whole museum dedicated to her art, you must go to the quite residential area in Shinjuku.
It’s quite difficult to visit the Yayoi Kusama. In order to maintain the quality of the visits, access to the museum is fully controlled by reservation. It is open only 4 days per week, four sessions each day, 70 visitors and 90 minutes per session. One would even have to act quick to reserve a ticket online on the first day of the month that is two month before the date of the visit. It’s almost as hard as finding an HSR ticket on major holidays or a RAW ticket.
Exit the metro station, continue straight along the road, and you will see the museum with its distinct front entrance design. Take out your electronic ticket and let the staff scan the QR code to confirm the ticket, then you are allowed entry with an issue of the description of current exhibitions. You are also reminded that the first, fourth, and fifth floors allow photos, but second and third floors do not. The 90 minutes include the time for visiting the exhibition and the souvenir shop.
▲ A quote by Yayoi Kusama is written on the wall in Japanese and English.
The white spiral staircase goes up to the second floor. Yayoi Kusama’s early work is displayed on the second floor. The colors and techniques are different from her styles well known today. Visitors can make comparisons with the pamphlet in their hands (refer to the photo above). The third floor displays her work in the recent two years.
The fourth floor is a mirror face pumpkin video, and everyone is allowed two minutes of photography. Regardless if someone is waiting behind you, once the time is up, the staff will open the door and ask you to continue up the fifth floor. The fifth floor is divided into an indoor and an outdoor area. The indoor area displays many relevant publications, while the outdoor area displays a giant pumpkin for photos.
After you are satisfied with the photos of the giant pumpkin, you must take the only elevator in the museum all the way down to the first floor souvenir shop. There are a limited range of souvenirs, including pumpkin cookies, handkerchiefs, small pumpkin sculptures, and books.
Yayoi Kusama placed her art in a building that is a work of art itself. The quality of the art is quite high, but the quantity is lacking. Those who are looking forward to taking photos with a massive amount of art would be disappointed. Only the pumpkin mirror image on the fourth floor and the actual pumpkin display on fifth floor are allowed to be photographed. Overall, it was a worthwhile visit. Whether or not a second visit is warranted, well, that depends on the individual.
Opening Day: October 1, 2017
Hours: 11:00am-17:00pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Entry by reservation, each session is 90 minutes
Transportation: 20 minutes on foot from the Waseda Metro Station
Ticket: JPY 1,000
How to make a reservation: Tickets are available for reservation online 2 months beforehand (e.g. Tickets in May are available for reservation on March 1)