Isao Takahata Exhibition Opens in Tokyo

The mammoth exhibition “Takahata Isao: A Legend in Japanese Animation” opened in Tokyo’s Museum of Modern Art at the start of June 2019 and will run into October. Carlos and me visited it this week, and I’m preparing a full report for the AllTheAnime blog – of course, we’ll add a link to the report when it’s online.

Briefly, the exhibition is absolutely huge, to the point that I spent a whole day there and I still need to go back for a second day to take it all in. It covers the whole span of Takahata’s career, delving all the way back to his 1960s work at the Toei studio. There’s a particularly dense section on the first film Takahata directed, the rugged fantasy The Little Norse Prince, which Carlos and me have discussed here.

From Prince the exhibition takes us on a journey through Takahata’s decades-long career; Heidi, Marco, Anne of Green Gables, Chie the Brat, Gauche the Cellist and then into his Ghibli films for which the director is best-known internationally – Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko and Princess Kaguya. (For anyone needing a summary of his career, there’s one in my obituary of the director.) The exhibition tells the story through animation cels, original animation art, concept sketches, and reams of documents, especially in the section on Prince.

These documents are in Japanese, of course – my thanks to Carlos for providing priceless translations, while I scribbled notes in horrible handwriting (using pencils provided by the patient staff; biros, it turns out are not allowed in the exhibition!) However, this is a massively friendly event for English-speakers. The museum’s explanatory text is all translated, and even the audio guides are available in English! If you’re in Tokyo, then I’d unreservedly recommend paying a visit, and setting some time aside for it if you can (at least an hour).

The Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo is near the Imperial Palace; the closest station is the Takebashi metro station on the Tozai line. Standard entrance is 1,500 yen. The exhibition is closed on Mondays, but open on other days from 10 a.m. The closing time is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. On Friday and Saturday it is open late to 9 p.m.

While photography is not allowed in most parts of the museum, there’s some lovely scenery based on Takahata’s Heidi which Carlos was able to snap.

Museum web site
Official site