Ginza Yanagi Gallery: A Beacon for Western-style Art in Tokyo

Considered an accomplishment to be located in Ginza, a solo exhibition within its walls can forever change the artist’s path in Japan.

Balmy breeze by Nobuyuki Shimamura

Stepping into Ginza Yanagi Gallery

Of the varying cultural centers in Tokyo, Ginza stands above the rest in high art. Many of the capital’s most prestigious art spaces are located within the district’s boundaries, including the semi-eponymous Ginza Yanagi Gallery. Considered an accomplishment to be located in Ginza, a solo exhibition within its walls can forever change an artist’s path in Japan.

Since 1994, Ginza Yanagi Gallery has been a beacon for Western-style art produced by Japanese painters, offering a sizeable, modern space for patrons to enjoy art in a peaceful setting.

A scenery in lapis lazuli blue by Hiroshi Okano

Stepping into the gallery, you will notice a focus on Western-style works by Japanese contemporary artists, which are personally selected by the gallery’s owner Yoshihiro Noro, based on his personal evaluation of the artist’s aesthetics. The artwork on display features many original oil paintings of figurative subjects, such as scenery, portraits, and still life that instill a unique, welcoming expression.

Hiroshi Okano for his landscapes, Takumi Arita for his fresco paintings, Minoru Hirota and Nobuyuki Shimamura for their portraits — these are the artists often featured in Ginza Yanagi Gallery based on a strong bond developed between the artists and Mr. Noro over the years. The gallery features notable female artists as well, such as Akiko Fukunaga for her popular caricature art and Maki Matsuzawa for her precise landscapes.

Beyond those named above, the gallery keenly observes the Japanese art scene for emerging artists, such as Reiko Kitao-Bontemps who recently joined the gallery, and will, from time to time, exhibit works by classic international Impressionist painters, such as Mathis, Renoir, Duffy, Chagall, Picasso, and Koji Fujita, as well as respected Japanese painters that focus more on Eastern themes and techniques.

L’Oiseau bleu (A blue bird) by Takumi Arita

The Inclusive Mission of Ginza Yanagi Gallery’s Owner

As young as three years of age, I was fortunate enough to have parents taking me to meet master painters and artists…

Mr. Noro’s passion for art expands far beyond the monetary success of his gallery. For over 10 years he has hosted an event called the “Ginza Gallery Tour,” where art enthusiasts are guided through several exhibitions held simultaneously at galleries across Ginza — all with the aim of reinvigorating a passion for creation and discovery found only through the arts.

While the tour inevitably takes patrons to competing galleries, Mr. Noro is unconcerned about the possibility of losing potential customers as his ultimate goal is to revitalize Japan’s art industry. He feels that diversity is key to continuing Ginza’s rich art culture and welcomes the presence of other galleries in sharing this diversity with art collectors.

In Japan, it’s not popular to collect art for personal use. It’s said that only 30-percent of the households have art in their home. I want to instill the idea of personal collections into the minds of the Japanese people. In Europe and the United States, it’s contrary; a home without any art would be rare. This is why I work hard to collect quality art pieces at my gallery.

I once heard from a customer that art stopped him from having suicidal thoughts. True art has that power to directly talk to the viewer’s soul. I want more people to experience art in this way, so I make great efforts to promote artists with exceptional skills at my gallery, and to make the Japanese art world prosper.

The reason behind Mr. Noro’s passion for promoting art culture in Japan comes from his beginnings. Born into a family of art dealers, he grew up surrounded by the beauty of fine art — a life experience that he wants to share with others.

As young as three years of age, I was fortunate enough to have parents taking me to meet master painters and artists, such as spending long hours in the atelier of Ryohei Koiso, or Kazu Wakita and Kiyonaga Ito in Karuizawa — many of the Western-style artists that represented the period. My family’s tradition was to build strong connections between artists and every member of the family, so I got to know them very well.

Celebrating spring by Maki Matsuzawa

Though Mr. Noro was in many ways born with an appreciation of art, his parents never asked him to carry on the family business as is common in Japanese culture. After graduating from university with a degree in commerce, he first considered working for a large trading company. While searching for a job, he realized that the art industry was calling to him, so he began working as a dealer for an international gallery that continues to be active in Japan and France. Later, he joined his family business, and in a few years became manager of Gallery Umeda’s Tokyo branch in Ginza. After three years of managing the gallery, he decided to establish his own in the center of Tokyo’s art scene.

With his knowledge of the art world that was nurtured by a life surrounded by exceptional works, he gathered the best painters for his gallery and created a new center for Japanese artists.

Strengthening Japan’s Artistic Reputation

From an international point of view, the Japanese art market has such unexplored potential.

Mr. Noro strongly believes that there are many excellent artists in Japan that deserve greater attention from the international art community. He feels that one of the biggest impediments to this acknowledgement is a lack of support given to artists by the Japanese government as well as a lack of tax incentives for buying art. To make this change, he has taken it upon himself to actively connect with politicians about these issues on behalf of Japan’s artists.

A camelia by Akiko Fukunaga

However, Mr. Noro believes there is hope. With the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and World Expo 2025 in Osaka, there is a growing movement to provide greater support for artists and their output. These two international events could be a watershed moment for Japanese art. Already in Hong Kong, we are seeing the rise of popularity for contemporary art pieces by Japanese artists sold at auctions.

From an international point of view, the Japanese art market has such unexplored potential. Because Japan has the longest history of making Western-style art in Asia,  there are many as-of-yet discovered artists across various styles. The country’s rich traditional craft culture is one more reason to bring more international attention to Japan’s art scene.

Stare by Nobuyuki Shimamura

Where to Buy Art Featured in Ginza Yanagi Gallery

In these exciting times, many opportunities for international success await Mr. Noro and his Ginza Yanagi Gallery. With an inclusive mission and an impressive collection of Japanese contemporary works, TRiCERA is proud to partner with Mr. Noro to share contemporary Japanese art with the world!

How to visit Ginza Yanagi Gallery

Open Hours

Monday-Friday: 10:00-19:00
Satuday: 11:00 – 18:00
Sundau & National Holidays: Closed

Address

Sukiyabashi Building 3F, 5-1-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 〒104-0061
TEL : 03-3573-7075 FAX : 03-3573-7076

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TRiCERA

At TRiCERA we believe that “creativity has no boundaries.” We enable artists to offer their authentic artwork to art collectors by providing our porfessional services. We solve the problems of language barriers and complex overseas delivery services in order to connect Japanese artists to the rest of the world.

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