Alessandro Bioletti (アレッサンドロ・ビオレッティ)’s Exhibition “Sentō”



“Sentō” means public baths in Japanese. Alessandro Bioletti, Italian Illustrator who has been living in Tokyo since 2015, chose  this typique Japanese theme for his exhibition, currently being held at Makii Masaru Fine Arts until Oct 21st. The gallery is in the district where many public bathes are located. Though it is not primarily a reason of choosing this gallery, he sees the linkage between the theme and right location to be exhibited.

When I heard of the title of his exhibition, I immediately thought of “Thermae romae”, a Japanese manga series by Mari Yamasaki,  in which the bathhouses culture in Roman era appeared in comparison with Japanese Sentō in modern day, but it was too brash to connect his Italian origin and the theme. Alessandro said there are several reasons that he came to be interested in “Sentō” and choose as the theme of his exhibition. “Sentō” was his first encounter about Japanese culture – getting into such a hot water and be in the same bath with many other naked men!!  Before settled in Tokyo, he started visiting Japan 13 years ago. Being fascinated by public baths, he started exploring public baths in a different town every time he visited Japan.


Alessandro also pointed out the difference in the way having human relations and interactions between Italy and Japan. In Italy, people are more expressive, while Japanese is in general shyer, not easy to express oneself, therefore, getting know each other needs a bit of patience. With such a contrast, he has got more conscious in the aspect of people’s connections and it is reflected in his work in “Sentō” exhibition.

What amazing is his vivid and concise portray of people in bath room and dressing room. I can picture it clearly and feel like I am in the scene. Alessandro‘s sharp, observant eye is used for the chose of colors used in the work. He said that it is fully influenced by the old color faded signboards from 70s and 80s that he discovers in the daily life.





His work reminds me Ukiyoe. In Edo era, the scene in public baths is a popular theme. Alessandro said that the composition and the way to describe the detail in Ukiyoe has fixed in his mind.

Ladies on tiles


Alessandro is preparing for the next exhibition in June 2019 with a theme of “City boy”.  He said that it will be held in a gallery in Harajuku by reflecting the theme.

His source of inspiration is a daily life. Once his appetite is caught, he search for it as he wants to know more. He sometime wonders what if he lived in Africa how his work would be differed. He is certainly not only one who wants to see how his work could be in Africa.


Alessandro Bioletti

Alessandro Bioletti

Born in Turin on 21st August 1986, Alessandro is a professional freelance Illustrator.
As a child, Alessandro loved to look through his grandfathers photo books of Japan and started taking a strong interest in the country and it’s culture. At 16 Alessandro began taking lessons in the Japanese language, and at 18 made his first voyage to the country. Alesandro has continued to travel and document his adventures through his drawings. Over the years these two passions have become intertwined and in December 2014 published his first children’s book “Mitsukete Alekun! Sekai No Tabi” (Find Mr.Ale Around The World) with the highly reputable Japanese publisher, Shogakukan.
In 2015 Alessandro left Italy and migrated to Tokyo, Japan where he now works as an illustrator for various advertising campaigns, editorials, picture books and a multitude of interesting projects for businesses worldwide.

For more info, please go to his own site and canvas Tokyo



Yuji Ichikawa (市川裕司): his solo exhibition “blue moment”

Saitama Gallery

The apple…………it appeared in the story of Adam and Eve in Old testament as a forbidden fruit seducing human beings to indulge. Snow white faints after eating a poisonous apple. Wilhelm Tell shot an apple on his son’s head. Newton found law of universal gravitation while looking at an apple falling from a tree. Now the apple is in most people’s hands as a mark of smart phone.  There is no other fruits than the apple that is universal and often appears in anecdotes in all ages.

Forbidden fruit.jpg

The Fall of Man by Rubens

Yuji Ichikawa (Ichikawa) is an artist who is fascinated by the apple and often uses it as a theme in his artwork. I had a chance to visit his recent solo exhibition, “blue moment” at Saitama Gallery (埼玉画廊), which is unfortunately ended on September 24, but I would like to introduce some of his works.

“I see the apple, which is familiar object for everyone, could be a good tool to link to people’s memories through and trigger connecting people across time and place. ”  – Yuji Ichikawa*

”私は、この誰もが知るリンゴを通じて記憶にリンクすることが、人が時間や場所を越えて繋がりを持つためのツールであると考えています。そして外界と繋がる意識によって、自己の再認識を果たすことが私の願いです。” ー市川裕司

Saitama Garo image.jpg

He originally studied Japanese painting at Tama Art University, but his creation has moved to the field of contemporary art. Ichikwa himself, however, is not conscious about categorizing his filed. Ichikawa learnt from International Symposium on Japanese painting that the genre ‘Japanese painting’ was only created at Meiji era for convenience’s sake, when Japan opens the country and start exporting Japanese art and craftsmanship such as Ukiyoe, therefore, there is no clear definition in Japanese painting in terms of materials and tools and it lost its substance. The view opened up Ichikawa‘s approach to his work. He started thinking he could explore his art expression by using any kind of materials, that resulted his recent work using a transparent glass, plastic material and aluminum instead of Japanese paper that is less and less available。

In the blue 18-3 532x729 (P20)

Blue moment 18 249x340(F4)

As the tile of this exhibition, the most exhibited work is colored in blue. The blue is originated from his memory in his childhood. He was a light sleeper and often woke up in early morning.  He, at such time, stared at the blue and silent world outside his window. The blue color before the dawn that he saw during his stay in Germany got his additional inspiration toward blue color.  Ichikawa sees a landscape of his heart and an opening of new world in blue and it is reflected to the title of this exhibition, “blue moment”.


The size of the work at this solo exhibition was relatively small for Ichikawa‘s creations. He typically create up to the ceiling, large scale installation like seen in the SPIRAL exhibition in 2014. It is amazing to hear that he normally works in his 8 tatami mats size atelier (approx. 12.4 square meters) based on 1/10 scale rough sketch.


Ichikawa stayed from 2012 to 2013 in Dusseldorf in Germany as a Goto Memorial Foundation trainee. The experience during the period gets influenced his creative urge.  Ichikawa said that the life in Germany inspired him to look into origin of life.

For his future work, he is interested in the concept of “borderless”. Envisioning the coming Tokyo Olympics in 2020, he is conscious about the relation between Japan and the world.  Probing into what universal is, he is wondering the border such as a concept of nationality might disappear.

Ichikawa‘s work will be displayed at the entrance of new hotel opening in front of Yurakucho-station in Ginza area in December. I can’t wait to see it!

For Yuji Ichikawa‘s biography and works, please visit his website.

Yuji Ichikawa

Yuji Ichikawa with his work “目覚め木”(The waking tree**)

*the quote is translated by the author and not the official translation.
**the title of the work is translated by the author and not the official one.

Ayumi Suzuki (鈴木愛弓): her solo exhibition entitled “the land”

There are some artists that I occur to my mind and wonder how they are doing. Teppei Ikehira who I wrote about in the previous post is one of those. Ayumi Suzuki (Ayumi), who I am going to write about this time is another one of those artists. Interestingly, I wrote about both artists in my post on March 23, 2015, in which I wrote about Art Fair Tokyo.

Mayumi Suzuki Dreaming

“Dreaming”, Oil painting by Ayumi Suzuki

I happen to know that Ayumi has a solo exhibition entitled “the land” at Fei Art Museum Yokohama (Sept 19-29), so I went to see it and had an opportunity to speak with Ayumi over her exhibition and creation.


The style of work exhibited in “the land” is quite different from her work in my memory, which was an oil painting featuring a woman with girlish innocence and the background surrounding the woman was drawn to the detail. In contrast to the oil painting, her work in “the land” exhibition is mostly black and white and the motif is blurry.

Ayumi attempted using a water and acrylic paint about 5,6 years ago for the sake of searching for a different mode of expression. Initially it didn’t go so smoothly and she couldn’t find her style until about 3 years ago, when her parents asked her to draw papered sliding doors for a guest room in her parents’ house, she draw it with liquid sumi ink and the experience was in a sense liberating her and triggered her to start drawing a paper with liquid sumi ink.

“With different tool and method to deliver an output, a style of expression is different even if it comes from the same inspiration. “

In her oil painting, she tends to use a clear line, but with sumi ink, line is blurred and rough. She has a much better control with oil paint by adding paint and reconstructing it to be close to what she envisaged painting.  Liquid sumi ink is, on the contrary, somewhat uncontrollable. It has unintended force. She needs to go with how the ink spreads and accept however the ink stained. She feels such output expresses her genuinenss.

A border between the usual and unusual or something like daydream is her favourite theme.  She said that the use of liquid sumi ink changed the way she capture the theme. It gets more inward. The scenery and a person described get more blur and ambiguous. The land is described in her words as below and it becomes the tile of her work and exhibition.

“the land” is like a place of daydreaming, a mirror reflecting one’s emotion and thoughts , and a dream relaying to one’s unconsciousness.”


Her solo exhibition, “the land” is being held in Fei Art Museum Yokohama until Sept 29, which is 5 min walk from Yokohama station.

Ayumi Suzuki solo exhibition "the land" Sept 19 (Wed)-29 (Sat)
Fei Art Museum Yokohama 
Yokohama Tsuruyacho Bldg. 1F, Tsuruyacho 3-33-2, Kanagawa-ku, Yokohama city, Kanazawa prefecture 〒221-0835
tel. 045-411-5031   fax. 045-411-5032
Opening hours:10:00 - 19:00 (~17:00 for 29th)
Holiday: Monday

Mountain climbing is one of her hobbies.  She brings back small things from mountain such as moss, a branches and stones and those become her source of inspirations.  Ayumi has a plenty of ideas for future direction, could be oil painting on paper or animation capturing a longer time span and share it with viewers. I am looking forward to her evolution.

Ayumi Suzuki

Ayumi Suzuki photographed with her work from “the land” exhibition

If you are interested in her other work, please go to her own site from here.


Meeting with Teppei Ikehira from his private exhibition ”今を灯して(Lighting up the present)” – Part II

At Part I, I introduced Teppei Ikehara‘s art piece, titled ’They know their place’.

Ikehira told me that he started painting it with ‘a boy cuddling a tiger’. Can you locate the little boy?  It is drawn at the lower part of left corner.

Teppei Ikehira 1

a boy with a tiger

One day Ikehira brought back a stuffed tiger from neighbor restaurant to surprise his son expected to be home from school.  Against the odds, the son started cuddling the tiger and that became an inspiration for Ikehira to start out the work.

Ikehira said that he normally doesn’t have full picture how he wants to finish a work when he started.  The finished work is so to say a consequence of accumulated daily inspiration.

“I intuitively find a motif that interests me and carefully draw it with high concentration and in detail.  I continuously find such  interesting motifs from daily life, so I have a plenty of sources.”

Ikehira‘s inspiration comes from a slice of daily life. Interaction with his children, orange tree in his back yard, insects, birds coming to his house, a picture in a magazine he happens to read, etc, etc. Anything could be sufficient to keep his fire going.

Looking at countless motifs scattered like stars on canvas, my mind traveled with memories, was stimulated with new encounters and felt like dreaming. I may have had a some kind of simulated experience through Ikehira’s artwork.

Ikehira‘s work is exhibited at Corridor Gallery 34, Park Hotel Tokyo this month. Don’t miss the chance!

Date: September 1, 2018 (Sat.) – September 30, 2018 (Sun.)
Time: 11:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.
Place: Corridor Gallery 34, Park Hotel Tokyo (34F)
Fare: Admission Free

At the next post, I will touch on some more Ikehira‘s creations.

Teppei Ikehira from his private exhibition ”今を灯して(Lighting up the present)” – Part I

There are two pieces of oil painting by Teppei Ikehira (池平撤兵)hanging on the wall in my living room. One is a college of polar bear, salmon, blue and white colored ripples, flowers in red, pink and orange. Another is a collage of lots of titmouses, lots of pink tulips, fried eggs, a windmill, a little girl with a sort of European traditional costume like with blue sky with some white clouds on the back. How I describe his painting in detail, it would be hard to imagine how it looks like. The motifs in a canvas is so versatile. It is hard to believe such diversified and unrelated motifs can be harmonized in one frame.

He had his personal show in hpgrp GALLERY TOKYO until yesterday and I could be there barely in the last day.

Teppei Ikehira 1


They know their place

2016 242.0cm x 324.0cm

oil on canvas

How many different objects do you find in the above painting. You may wonder by the choice of diversified motifs from animals, fishes, cakes, children, fried eggs, Onigiri (rice balls), fruits, juices, UFO, and so on. Depending on a place you pay attention, you have a different discovery.  Even after spending sometime searchingly looking by part by part, I felt as if  there is a new motif added one after another.

Ikehira told me that the way such versatile motifs be together in the canvas is just like what we are living in this world with numberless different living creatures. We have somehow a harmony to belong to one world. Ikehira said he draws each motif one by one with high concentration as if each creature lives one’s life with own faith.

”Ibasho (your place) is not necessary a defined space, but exists within the relations with surroundings. To be exact, Ibasho exists inner self and can be visualized by the relations with surroundings”


Ikehira Teppei 戦場の産声


For The Babies At War
162.0cm x 162.0cm

Oil on canvas

Teppei Ikehira

池平 徹兵 / IKEHILA Teppei

Born in Fukuoka
Graduated from Course of Health and Physical Education, Department of School Teachers’ Training, Faculty of Education, Shimane University
Selected for the 16th Taro Okamoto Award for Contemporar y Art Lives in Tokyo

Selected Solo Exhibitions

“Blue Earth,” Galler y at Shimane Art Museum ( 01, 03, 06, 09, 12 )
“Storehouse of the wing,” HIGURE 17-15 cas, Tokyo
“OFFICE BACTERIA Universe,” Medical Science Museum, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo “OFFICE BACTERIA Universe / Planet,” Galler y Conceal, Tokyo
” Asa no Risoukyo,” Shonandai MY Galler y, Tokyo

Workshops and Public Projects

mural painting, Hasu to Bara, Tokyo
mural painting, IGL Complex Facility for the Elderly Seifu Shinto, Hiroshima mural painting, Samuel Saijo Nurser y, Hiroshima
Koinobori,” Tachikawa City Civic Hall and Granduo Tachikawa, Tokyo

poster, “Biofilms 5 International Conference,” Paris

mural painting, Chaplin, Daimaru Tokyo


  • Briandet, Romain. “Biofilms, quand les microbes s’organisent,” éditions Quæ, 2012, pp. 26, 27

I will write more about him at the next post so stay tuned!

Sayonara Hotel Okura

The main building of Hotel Okura Tokyo will be demolished after its closing on Aug 31.

As I touched on it in my blog earlier, worldly well-known designers, architects and foreign media have been expressing regret and some are calling for saving for Hotel Okura, but our wish didn’t come true.

Bottega Veneta started a social media campaign,


where one could post photos expressing the moment felt/spent at Okura.

This campaign is driven by the appreciation of Tomas Maier, the Creative Director of Bottega Veneta toward the architectural aesthetics and the modernism that Okura holds.

I will drop by to embrace the last moment and say good-bye once again.

Save the Okura!

Hotel Okura

Aiming at 2020, where Tokyo Olympics will be held, there are many construction projects going on around Tokyo and even some landmarks of Japanese modernist architectures are torn down. I am not against the efforts to make Tokyo more desirable city, but there are things that we shouldn’t demolish without enough thoughts on protection of the valuable assets.

Hotel Okura Tokyo is one of such and I wrote about it in my blog end of last year.

Hotel Okura Tokyo was built more than 50 years ago and one of the iconic Japanese architecture that embody Japan’s traditional esthetics. Now the demolition of Hotel Okra Tokyo is planned in this summer to build new hotel building by 2019.

What interesting is that more oversea media picked up this plan with disappointment such as The NY Times and Washington Post. Well known foreign artists and designers oppose to this idea and Monocle magazine has been actively promoting a signature-collecting campaign “Save the Okura”.  You can participate in this campaign from here.

‘Casa Brutus’ – Japanese magazine specialized in lifestyle, design and architecture created a tribute page to Hotel Okura in its website, where many well-known designers and architects such as Paul Smith and Steven Holl talk about their relationship, memories or appreciation about Hotel Okura. Case Brutus site is here. 

“Demolition of the Okura is a tragedy.”

– Steven Holl

“A masterpiece of modernism. We should protect it as a cultural asset for the future”

– Margarete Howel

“Still Avant-garde design today.”

– Masaya Kuroki, Creative director of  Maison Kitsune

Tomas Maier, Creative director of Bottega Veneta is also against the demolition plan of Hotel Okura Tokyo. He is calling net users for uploading photos that one took in Hotel Okura Tokyo in Instagram with # (hashtag), in order to widely gain more attentions to the issue of breaking down valuable architectures. Tomas Maier also appears in youtube to send his message ‘Save Japan’s Modern Architecture – Tomas Maier in Japan’.

We may have little power to change the demolition plan of Hotel Okura Tokyo, but I believe that our voice could make many people aware of the value of asset and still influence the design of new Hotel Okura Tokyo.

Floating Flower Garden @National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (日本科学未来館)


The exhibition of flower themed new installation started on March 7 until May 10 at National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (日本科学未来館) in Odaiba, Tokyo. This installation was made by teamLab, one of the coolest digital technology based creative group in Japan.  I wrote about their exhibition at Maison et Objet in January.

At ‘Floating Flower Garden’ー more than 2300 floating flowers fill the space. These flowers are alive and are growing everyday. Once a viewer approaches to the space with full of floating flowers, those flowers reacts by moving up and creating a hemispherical space around the viewer. If multiple viewers get closer each other, each hemispherical space is merged and become one large dome. It is as if the flowers and viewers unify in the space and merge in harmony.

You can get the feeling of the exhibition in the moving picture below.


ARTIST “NORITAKA TATEHANA” The Borders of Tradition and Innovation

Heel-less Shoues Lady Pointe 2014

You may familiar with Lady Gaga’s 9 inch heel-less platform shoes.

Lady Gaga by Nick Knight for Vanity Fair

Lady Gaga by Nick Knight for Vanity Fair

The designer of her shoes is Japanese artist, ‘Noritaka Tatehana‘.

noritaka tatehana

Photo via Noritaka Tatehana site 

The heel-less shoes was his graduation project from Tokyo University of the Arts in 2010 and the shoes soon attracted the attention of fashion industries overseas including Lady Gaga’s stylist.

Becoming Lady Gaga’s sole shoes-maker suddenly put him in the spotlight. Nowadays, his heel-less platform is loved by many celebrities such as Daphne Guinness.

Daphne Guinness

Photo via French Vogue

His inspiration of the design came from ‘Oiran’ (Japanese courtesans), whose decadent fashion established a very unique mode in the 19th Century.

Oiran wore ‘wooden geta’ which is thirty centimeter-high platform shoes. NoritakaTatehana says that his heel-less shoes are a new version of the traditional Japanese platform shoes that crosses over the traditional and modern Japanese identities.

Oiran Dochu

Photo via Tsubame-kankou

“Good shoes take people to good places. I feel Happy if I can create the best pair for my clients.”

Noritaka Tatehana sees shoes are a communication tool and his profession is to adorn people.

“I am a creator of “things”, but I would like to be someone who could share time and experience with the people I meet, not just a person who leaves behind his creations.”

“I create shoes out of communication with my clients. I will create as many number of shoes as the encounters I have.”

Are you interested in getting a pair of heel-less high platform? You can order it from here. The price ranges from $2,500 a pair to $4,000.

The exhibition of Noritake Tatehana has been running at 8/Art Gallery/Tomio Koyama Gallery in Shibuya Hikarie in Tokyo until January 12 so you had better hurry.

Hairpin Series 2014

Hairpin red

Heel-less shoes Lady Bloom 2014

Floating World Series 2014

Lady Gaga Shoes

The style is not quite for me, but I had a Lady Gaga moment.

gaga shoes

HOTEL OKURA TOKYO Reborn and Tokyo Olympics

Hotel Okura6

A perfect blend of orange soft light and natural sun light coming through a paper sliding door (Shoji). I am writing this at the spacious main lobby of Hotel Okura Tokyo.

Here, the light gives a warm feeling. It seems whether it subtly hides the thing which you don’t wish to show, in comparison with recent modern buildings, transparent and light, and full of glass-made material used. I sometime feel intimidated and overly exposed.

Photo by Mannuel Oka

Photo by Manuel Oka  (

Hotel Okura Tokyo, one of Japan’s most iconic hotels will be torn down from September 2015 to renovate its main building with completion by Spring 2019, one year prior to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It has been long time since I came here last time in daytime and I had an urge to come here to burn every detail of my favorite hotel into my memory.

Here you find Japan’s modern design combined with the traditional colors, patterns, shapes and materials.

Lanterns shaped in an ancient necklace motif (切子玉)

Hotel Okura1

Shoji with glass window behind a sliding bottom half and a mullion with a flax leaf pattern

Flax leaf pattern was introduced in江戸切子/


A muntin with a haze hanging over the scene (霞棚型)


Rhomboid Pattern


Hexagonal Pattern



Bird pattern

Hotel Okura Tokyo was built two years ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 by the team of architects led by Yoshiro Taniguchi and an annex was added in 1973.  Kishichiro Okura, the founder of Hotel Okura believed that availability of a luxury hotel in the capital city represents a standard of the culture of the country. Hotel Okura Tokyo was built under his desire of creating a modern hotel that embraced Japan’s traditional beauty.

The main building of Hotel Okura Tokyo may be exhorted and need a reconstruction, but the timing of it prior to two Tokyo Olympics for both creation and re-creation, I can’t think of anything but destiny.

Its main building will be reborn as a 38-storey glass tower in 2019. It is said that the new building will maintain the traditional Japanese aesthetic and will be a true “Made in Japan” luxury hotel to preserve its rich history. As Kishichiro Okura had a clear vision how the first Hotel Okura Tokyo should be, new Hotel Okura Tokyo perhaps need a purpose of reconstruction beyond the economic reason.

All of my fingers are crossed and Hotel Okura Tokyo hopefully won’t be buried into many of those glass-walled high rises.

Monocle magazine has started a petition to save the old Hotel Okura Tokyo. You can participate in it from the link below. I hope they will succeed.


More information on Hotel Okura Tokyo: