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‘Roppongi Art Night’ to rejuvenate nightlife quarter

"Adventures with Giant Torayan" by Kenji Yanobe
“Adventures with Giant Torayan” by Kenji Yanobe
TOKYO (TR) – A one-night event taking place later this month intends to highlight the city’s artistic attractions while assisting in transforming the image of one of Tokyo’s more notorious nightlife centers.

“Roppongi Art Night,” beginning on March 28 and continuing for 32 hours, will “fuse art with the urban landscape” with visual and performance displays at three museum spaces: The National Art Center, Tokyo, the Suntory Museum of Art, and the Mori Art Museum.

Organizers believe that with the establishment of these art institutions over the past six years in Roppongi, in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, the area should be recognized as a center of art in the metropolis. Yet the scope of the event is to focus on Tokyo as a whole. “We think the Roppongi area is the most suitable place to promote Tokyo as a ‘city for the creation of art and culture,'” explains Yoshinao Matsushima, a representative of the event.

On display will be Kenji Yanobe’s “Giant Torayan,” a 7.2-meter-tall robot that breathes flames. Artist Jiro Hirano’s “Ginga” features 1,000 balloons suspended such that they conjure images of the Milky Way. Events include a performance by violinist Ikuko Kawai. Famed architect Tadao Ando is an adviser, having contributed the design of the “U-Tsu-Wa” ceramic vessel display at 21_21 Design Sight at Tokyo Midtown.

Such variety is one aspect of the festival. “For ensuring access to multi-layered audiences,” says Matsushima. “we believe diversity is always important.”

Over its recent history, Roppongi has had a generally negative image due its many shot bars and clubs. In recent years, mixed-use, redevelopment projects have sprouted throughout the district, squeezing out many of its more sleazy establishments. Organizers hope that “Roppongi Art Night” will help in emphasizing this positive image for the area.

“We believe ‘Roppongi Art Night’ could present a new option for enjoying nightlife in the Roppongi area by merging art and city together,” Matsushima says.

Update: Please see the photos from the event in the gallery below.