Takashi Murakami’s Mononoke Kyoto Narrates Tales from the Ancient City

Takashi Murakami’s most recent major solo exhibition in Japan, titled Mononoke Kyoto, marks his first in the country in eight years. The exhibition is taking place at the Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art and showcases over 160 pieces that Murakami crafted specifically for the museum’s 90th anniversary celebration. These works were commissioned at the behest of the museum’s general manager, Mr. Shinya Takahashi, whom Murakami regards as one of the few individuals in the Japanese art world he deeply trusts, as noted in the introductory remarks at the exhibition’s outset.

Despite having a supportive team, the creation of such a vast array of new artworks is a formidable challenge. Murakami explains that typically, a museum would arrange to borrow existing pieces from international museums and collectors; however, in this instance, they chose to forego the substantial shipping and insurance costs. Instead, they requested that Murakami, who is still active and in his sixties, produce new works for the exhibition. As a result, Murakami describes how he has been working tirelessly, almost without rest, becoming increasingly immersed in a trance-like state of wandering through time and space. He feels his essence and the fabric of time blending, and he has merged with the ancient city’s essence, fulfilling Mr. Takahashi’s vision.

Mononoke Kyoto delves into the eponymous city’s history, reflecting on its evolution from the Edo period (1603–1868)—a golden era for art and artists residing in Kyoto—through to its modern-day form, which has been shaped by Western influences. The exhibition is scheduled to run until September 1, and it will be dynamically updated with new pieces as they are completed. Murakami encourages visitors to experience the exhibition as if it were a documentary, observing the unfolding narrative of his work.