By Sarah Koh
Most people venture to Shibuya for shopping and the infamous scramble. For the traveler on a budget, this busy ward may seem too pricey. Fortunately, Shibuya is full of various free art galleries that constantly hold exhibitions by both Japanese and foreign artists. Many are centrally located and some can even be found within popular shopping departments. Rather than holding permanent exhibitions, the ever changing schedules of these three galleries provide an exceptionally unique experience for both art lovers and the casual tourist. Whether planning to shop till you drop or are avidly searching for hip art installations, be sure to check out these galleries in Shibuya.
First up is Nanzuka, a basement gallery located ten minutes away from Shibuya Station. The gallery, which opened in 2005, primarily hosts contemporary artists from Keiichi Tanaami to New York-based painter Erik Parker. This quiet space is often empty, allowing you to enjoy the art freely on your own time. Entrance to the basement gallery is free; note that Nanzuka is closed on Sunday, Monday, and national holidays.
Shibuya Hikarie, a popular tourist destination, dedicates the eighth floor (simply labeled 8/) to art and is split into seven sections. Two small studios on the titled 02/Cube 1, 2, 3 and 03/Art Gallery have rotating exhibitions that range from paintings to photography to pottery. Recent artists include Mohamad ‘Ucup’ Yusuf, Takuya Yokoyama, and Yoko Ono. 04/d47 Museum, located one the opposite side of the floor, is a larger space that attracts many tourists due to its collection of relics from each of Japan's 47 prefectures. Those eager to shop for Japanese crafts and goods can head right next door to see an array of high-quality products in 05/d47 design travel store.
If in need of a break from a full day of shopping, stop by Shibuya’s PARCO Museum on the third floor. Although entrance is not free, the ¥500 entrance fee (¥400 for students with valid IDs) is modest in comparison to the typical art gallery. The cozy showroom blends both static 2D art such as prints and photography with short abstract videos. The most recent exhibition titled “Hyper! Harm Gals!!” by Harumi Yamaguchi––in collaboration with Toga, Camille Vivier, and Theseus Chan––pays homage to wide-ranging female icons embracing her own sensuality while also challenging the status quo of her time. Recent showcases range from modern art to expositions dedicated to pop idols such as AKB48 and Kpop group TVXQ.
As they are in fairly close walking distances, it only takes a couple of hours to visit all three display rooms. Quiet and laid back, Nanzuka, Hikarie Gallery, and PARCO Museum all give you the chance to take a breather from the constant bustling streets of Shibuya.
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