What’s Happening in Tokyo this December and January?

What’s Happening in Tokyo this December and January?

Metropolis picks the best events this winter


Editor’s Pick

Until Dec 15

Camille Henrot “Stepping on a Serpent”

After winning the Silver Lion award for most promising young artist at the Venice Biennale, Camille Henrot’s diverse practice has since blossomed into multiple solo shows, each spilling with rich multimedia narratives exploring the history of the universe and the boundaries of human knowledge. Through combining video, sculpture, painting, installation, drawing and ikebana flower arrangements into narrative-like pieces, Henrot researches and presents the evolving ways in which we understand our ever-shifting world.

11am – 7pm
Friday and Saturday 11am – 8pm
¥800 – ¥1,200
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
3-20-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku


Dec 11 – 15


Mutek, the acclaimed festival of music, sound and audio-visual arts return to Tokyo for a four-day showcase. Gigs, seminars, workshops and industry networking makes Mutek a real leader in terms of promoting artists and music philosophy. Held at various locations in the Shibuya district, the roster for this installment include Akiko Nakayama, Alexis Langevin-Tétrault, Oslon and Sakura Tsuruta & asagi.

¥3,500 – ¥23,000
Various venues

Dylan Moran

Dec 16 

Dylan Moran 

Referred to by some as the Oscar Wilde of comedy today or the Irish master of grumpiness, Dylan Moran will bring his latest show, Dr Cosmos, to Tokyo this December as part of his huge international tour. Fans of the British sitcom series “Black Books” will already be familiar with his deadpan attitude and heightened use of vocabulary, and his standup takes his witty observations on the absurdities and miseries of life to the next level. Ranging from cats’ personalities to politics, the show is not to be missed for comedy fans.

6:30pm – 9:30pm
¥4,000 ¥6,500
Nissho Hall
2 -9-16 Toranomon, Minato-ku

Classic Rock Photograph Exhibition

Dec 18 – Jan 19

Classic Rock Photography Exhibition

The Beatles released their last album Let It Be on May 8, 1970. While this marked the end of an era it also signified the beginning of a new age of both classic rock music and, later, punk. The Rolling Stones, McCartney and Lennon and other artists from the 60s continued to record new music. The 70s and 80s were two decades of new, infectious music and the photographs presented in this exhibition capture that energy.

11am – 7pm (closed Tues)
Ricoh Imaging Square Ginza
5-7-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku

Surrealist Painting

Jan 15 – Apr 5

Surrealist Painting: Influences and Iterations in Japan 

Capturing the images of the unconscious in their work, the surrealists believed that creativity and imagination could be unlocked by escaping reason and the rational mind. Although most people are familiar with the cultural giant Salvador Dali, with his melting clocks, distorted creatures and bizarre scenes, the exhibition at the Pola Museum of Art is an excellent opportunity to view Western surrealists like Dali, Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte alongside their Japanese counterpart, Koga Haurue.

9am – 5pm
Adults ¥1,800
Pola Museum of Art
1285 Kozukayama, Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi,
Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa

36th Matsuya Ginza Antiquarian Book Fair

Jan 4 – 8

36th Matsuya Ginza Antiquarian Book Fair 

Whether you’d like to add to a collection, find an unusual gift or even make an investment, this annual book fair has something for everyone from rare Japanese and Western books, ukiyo-e woodblock prints and early Japanese photos, as well as other interesting printed ephemera. Held at the legendary Ginza department store Matsuya, this is one for real bibliophiles and for visitors with an interest in history and letters.

10am 8pm
Matsuya Ginza
8F 3-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku

Forever Saul Leiter

Jan 9 – Mar 8

Forever Saul Leiter 

Bunkamura’s curators must have a penchant for seminal American photographer Saul Leiter. The museum held a full-scale retrospective of his work back in 2017. Leiter’s work returns to Shibuya once again with this exhibition unearthing some of the lensman’s rarer work in addition to photographs which are being shown to the public for the first time. Leiter is a giant of photography and this exhibition promises to be a love letter to the great man’s work.

¥500 – ¥1,500
Weekdays 10am – 6pm
Fridays and weekends 10am – 9pm
2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku

A Certain Ratio

Jan 11 – 12

A Certain Ratio

Manchester legends A Certain Ratio spearheaded the city’s post-punk movement alongside other groups from northern England such as Buzzcocks and Joy Division. Part of the Factory record label scene, the band has been championed as one of the most influential groups to come out of England in the 70s and 80s. The band comes to Japan for two much-anticipated gigs in Shinjuku. Dig out your jumper and Dr. Martens and dive right in for what promise to be two unbelievable nights.

2-45-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku

Izumo and Yamato

Jan 15 – Mar 8

Izumo and Yamato: The Birth of ancient Japan

Honoring the 1,300th anniversary of “Nihon Shoki,” the second oldest book of classical Japanese history, this exhibit explores the telling myths and artifacts of ancient Japan. Izumo, the home of one of the country’s most revered Shinto shrines, Izumo Taisha, is a place of legend and major historical significance. Gods, politics and literature collide to tell an intriguing tale of genesis through the words and objects that occupied one of the holiest sites of the island nation.

9:30am – 5pm
Friday and Saturday 9:30am – 9pm
¥700 – ¥1,600
Tokyo National Museum
13-9 Uenokoen, Taito-ku

Bon Iver

Jan 21 – 22

Bon Iver

Bon Iver’s cherished wintry debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, continues to haunt the recesses of folk lovers’ minds years after its release in 2007. The solo project of American singer-songwriter Justin Vernon has wooed fans across genres with its gorgeous, melancholic melodies, experimental pop elements and heart-tugging vocals. Bon Iver’s newest record i,i is, according to Vernon, “the most adult record, the most complete.” The frontman and his crew will make two stops in Japan this winter both at Odaiba’s Zepp Tokyo live house.

¥8,600 – ¥9,600
Zepp Tokyo
1 Chome-3-11 Aomi, Koto-ku

Vilhelm Hammershøi

Jan 21 – Mar 26 

Exhibition of Vilhelm Hammershøi and Danish Painting of the 19th Century 

In a quiet room with open doors and minimal decor, almost all traces of life have been carefully erased. Light and sound are trapped and the flow of time seems to have stopped where it is. One of Denmark’s most celebrated 19th century painters, Hammershøi’s meditative work often features sparse interior scenes that are calmingly simple compared to our cluttered modern lives. But their bareness also carries an unsettling suggestion of absence or presence that the viewer can’t quite place their finger on.

9:30am – 5:30pm (Monday is closed, Friday is open until 8pm)
¥800 – ¥1,600
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
8-36 Uenokoen, Taito-ku


Jan 23


Sebadoh has always been the band that got away. Never quite hitting the heights of their contemporaries such as Pixies, Sonic Youth and Nirvana. Underrated and often ignored the group is back with a bang and has scheduled a surprise visit to Tokyo. The band is celebrating the reissues of two of its most acclaimed albums Bakesale and Harmacy. It looks like Sebadoh is rightly, enjoying a place in the sun after many years in the indie rock wilderness.

13-17 Udagawa, Shibuya-ku