Did you know there’s a gem of Art Deco architecture right in the center of Tokyo? And that it’s open to the public and easily visited? This charming building is the Prince Asaka residence, built in 1933 for a member of the Imperial family, and now part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. It’s near Shirokanedai and Meguro stations, in a beautiful, park-like setting.
On Sept. 4 at 3 pm, I’ll be giving a guided tour in English. To help publicize the event, which is free with regular museum admission (800 yen), I’m giving away four tickets that will get you in the museum free, too. (Update: All tickets have now been spoken for, and are on their way to V.C., T.G. and N.K.)
During the tour, which will last about an hour, I’ll guide visitors through the residence, sharing its fascinating history while pointing out important points of design and materials.
The current exhibition, on through Sept. 23, features Art Deco furniture on loan from the collection of Hikonobu Ise. This is a very good chance to experience what the interior may have felt like when it was still a residence, while enjoying fabulous period furnishings from key artists in the Art Deco movement, including Austrian architect and designer Josef Hoffman (1870-1956) and French architect and furniture designer Pierre Chareau (1883-1950).
Detail of firescreen in wrought iron by Edgar Brandt, 1920. Ise Foundation.
There are also works by Austrians Koloman Moser (1898-1962) and Josef Maria Olbrich (1867-1908) and of course French glass artist René Lalique (1860-1945), whose works are part of the permanent fittings of the Prince Asaka Residence.
After touring the residence, we’ll move on to the new wing of the museum, which is currently showing classic Art Deco posters collected by the late clothing designer Ruki Matsumoto. Believing that posters are “mirrors on their times,” Matsumoto amassed a collection of more than 20,000 before his death in 2012.
Finally, there is a whole room of stupendous pieces in glass by René Lalique, all collected by Japanese egg magnate Seiichirō Omura and his son Yoshiro. Interestingly, there are also several works by Lalique’s daughter, Suzanne, who was an artist in her own right