The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in the Shirokanedai area offers visitors the rare chance to take a peek inside their historical Art Deco villa and feel its special atmosphere. Visit their current exhibition to experience the latest living style and space in Tokyo ー 90 years ago!
About the history of the museum
The main building of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum was the residence of the Asaka family. Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, an aristocrat who was married to the daughter of the Meiji Emperor, built this mansion as his residence. In a time when traveling abroad was quite uncommon, Yasuhiko and his wife stayed in France for some time. This was the time when Art Deco was popular in Europe. After his return to Japan, he decided to build his new residence in Art Deco style.
Completed in 1933, the mansion was built in a relatively short period ー two years of planning and another two years of construction. Their current exhibition, held in the historic main building and the new annex building, focuses on the cutting-edge life in Tokyo in the 1930s.
Exploring the main building
The first floor of the main building was used to entertain guests. There is a guest room and a large dining room, where gorgeous Art Deco decorations will catch your eye. The second floor was the everyday living space of the royal family.
As I strolled through the bedrooms and living rooms, I noticed the vivid design of the wallpapers in each room. Apparently, all of the wallpapers were imported from a German wallpaper manufacture ー and it was washable with water! In some rooms, the wallpapers had to be removed due to the Japanese Fire Service Act, which happened before the building became a designated cultural property. It is still fun to wander around the rooms while imagining how the rooms would have felt with the colorful wallpapers. Make sure you don’t miss the display of some pieces of the old wallpapers!
What else is there to see?
Inside the Annex is currently a special exhibition showcasing the life of Tokyo in the 1930s. But make sure that you don’t miss stepping out into the garden! The word Teien in the museum’s name means ‘garden’ after all.
The garden has three areas in different styles. The Japanese garden has a tea room, and if you want to lie down, just head to the lawn space or visit the Western garden!
What kind of people were the Asaka family who seemed to be so interested in the latest trends and took great effort to incorporate them into their residence? And how will 90-year-old “cutting-edge” architecture and art look from a 2020’s perspective? This exhibition is a chance to find that out! Don’t miss it!
‘Looking at Architecture in 2020 The 1930s—Urban Life in Modern Tokyo: The Tokyo Metropolitan Collection at the Former Prince Asaka Residence’
Date: June 1st – September 27, 2020
Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
As a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus, all visitors are asked to check their temperature and use hand disinfectant before entering.