Japan‘s railway network, a symbol of evolution, steadily grew countrywide, becoming probably one of Japan’s most successful public infrastructure programs. Trains transported not only people but also ideas, dreams, and concepts. Soul-stirring locomotives, shining tracks in the evening sun, and the rush and bustle of train terminals would all inspire artwork that caught the mood of the time. Tokyo Station, classified as an important cultural property of Japan, was successfully saved and restored to its original state in 2012. Tokyo Station symbolises harmony between the past and the future. As it evolves into Tokyo Station City, it is building a cultural bridge between Japan and the rest of the globe.

Tokyo Station Gallery, located in a section of Tokyo Central Station, was built in 1988 with the idea that a station may provide some passengers with opportunities to explore arts and cultures rather than merely acting as a rail station. The spectacular red-brick facade and internal walls of the station, which was erected in 1914, create a historical and architectural statement while creating a pleasant ambience for both passengers and artworks. The station was known as “the Central Station,” but it was renamed “Tokyo Station” after its construction. Since then, the station has contributed to the growth of the adjacent business zone, which serves as Tokyo’s central business district. It has witnessed many key historical episodes that have moulded Tokyo and Japan over the past century. Tokyo Station, the beginning point for Japanese transit, has witnessed a difficult period in Japanese history and was declared a Valuable Cultural Property in 2003.

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The Tokyo Station Gallery which fuses railways, Art, and Design_©https://www.ejrcf.or.jp/gallery/english/institution.html

The museum is based on three guiding principles: “Rediscovering Modern Art,” which aims to identify unknown artists and critically examine overlooked art; “Railways, Architecture, and Design. They consider the museum’s location in Tokyo Station, designed by Kingo Tatsuno, and “Invitation to Contemporary Art,” which conveys the constantly evolving expression aesthetic. 

The display floors are divided into two sections: the contemporary third and historical second floors. One can experience an architectural attraction as well as exhibitions on diverse topics. The circular corridor on the second floor, from which visitors can see the station’s traffic, will keep them entertained. Authentic objects exclusively seen in the art gallery at Tokyo Station can be purchased in the museum shop on the second floor. The Marunouchi Station Building’s special sign is its octagonal North and South dome with its eight magnificent eagle sculptures (diameter 2.1 meters), which portray zodiac animals in the eight corners of the walls according to the directions they traditionally symbolise.

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The Marunouchi Station Building graphic art_©https://www.ejrcf.or.jp/gallery/english/institution.html

The Silver bells (Meeting point): 

Gin no Suzu (Silver Bells) Square was constructed in 1968. The frequency of Shinkansen bullet train passengers was growing at the time, and the station was filled with people who came to meet these passengers. Eventually, many passengers lost their way around the station, and this meeting point was constructed to ease the situation. The square with the spectacular huge bell, inspired by shrine bells, is a famous meeting place in Tokyo Station. The current bells are the fourth generation of bells.

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The silver bell meeting point_©Satoko Kawasaki
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Interior views of the Tokyo Gallery_©https://k-associates.com/en/works/tokyo_station_gallery/
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The display areas of the museum_©https://k-associates.com/en/works/tokyo_station_gallery/

Kengo Kuma’s lab for the materials exhibition

In the Tokyo Station Gallery, an exhibition focusing on the diverse materials utilised by Kengo Kuma recently debuted. The exhibition, which is a major review of Kuma’s work from the last 30 years, focuses on materiality. Through models, mock-ups, videos, and material samples, the exhibition showcases Kengo Kuma‘s work from a multidimensional viewpoint. It presents the architect’s vision for the future of how materials and humans can relate. Features include designs for a new bamboo pavilion and earlier constructions that use the material in interesting ways. ‘a lab for materials’ is the first architecture-related exhibition at Tokyo Station Gallery in three years and the first to feature a single architect.

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The exhibits in the interior by the designer Kengo Kuma_©https://www.designboom.com/architecture/kengo-kuma-lab-materials-exhibition-tokyo-station-gallery-03-19-2018/
Painting presented to the viewers of the first railway line_ ©https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/art/art-and-railway

Paintings and Timeline depiction

This exhibition at the Tokyo Station Gallery honours the 150th anniversary of Japan’s first railway line. There will be 150 objects on display, one for each year since the first railway line from Tokyo to Yokohama was opened. Trainspotters would be presented with the timeline of Japan’s locomotive history, from 1872 to the current day, through a collection of oil paintings, postcards, and pictures. Among the highlights are Utagawa Hiroshige III’s ‘Yokohama Kaigan Railway Steam Train’ and Kawanabe Kyosai’s ‘Hell Paradise Tour.’

Original designs, Tatsuno’s travel sketchbooks, a carpentered portion of a timber truss recovered from the five-year restoration in 2007, and an amazing triad of miniatures portraying the station and neighbouring Marunouchi district are among the many attractions on display. Hardcore rail fans and history lovers should take note of visiting this station as it takes a stroll through time. The Railway Museum in Saitama digs into the urban planning that led to the development of Tokyo Station, introducing the engineers, architects, and builders behind the project. In addition, the Railway History Exhibition Hall at Old Shimbashi Station examines how shopping, day trips, and other early-Taisho entertainments exploded following the construction of Tokyo Station in 1914.


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