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Tadanori Yokoo: 100 Takes on Hanshan and Shide

  • Image of "Tadanori Yokoo; 12.1.2022;  2022"

    Tadanori Yokoo; 12.1.2022;  2022

    September 12, 2023 (Tue) - December 3, 2023 (Sun)

    For some time, the contemporary artist Tadanori Yokoo has been working on a series based on Hanshan and Shide, a traditional subject matter in East Asian painting. This series includes over one-hundred paintings that Yokoo created specifically for this exhibition, which will be displayed for the very first time. Hanshan and Shide were Zen poet-monks who allegedly lived during China’s Tang dynasty (618–907). They have been celebrated in both China and Japan for their erratic behavior and apparent madness — considered by some as a sign of spiritual enlightenment.

    Yokoo continued to work on the series during the coronavirus pandemic and created over one-hundred paintings based on Hanshan and Shide in an atelier secluded from the mundane world, echoing these legendary figures’ transcendent lives. This series traverses various realms, weaving a dazzling tale that truly transcends space and time. The largest series in Yokoo’s career, it poses countless questions to its viewers, like a mirror that shows a different reflection every time.

Profile: Tadanori Yokoo

Artist. Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1936. Held a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1972. He subsequently exhibited his works at biennales all over the world, including Paris, Venice, and São Paulo, and held solo exhibitions at international museums such as the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain (Paris), and the State Museum of Oriental Arts (Moscow). He has also held a succession of solo exhibitions in Japan at venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, and the National Museum of Art, Osaka. In 2012, the Yokoo Tadanori Museum of Contemporary Art opened in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture; and in 2013, the Teshima Yokoo House opened in Kagawa Prefecture. Among the many honors he has received are the Mainichi Art Award in 1995; the Order of the Rising Sun, and the Asahi Prize, both in 2011; and the Praemium Imperiale in 2015. He was also named Honorary Citizen of Tokyo in 2020; and member of the Japan Art Academy in 2023. His numerous publications include the novel Blue Land (winner of the Izumi Kyoka Literary Award), Kotoba o hanareru (Kodansha Essay Award), and the novel Genkyo no mori.


Who Are Hanshan and Shide?

Hanshan and Shide were legendary figures, who were reputed to have been born on the holy site of Tiantai Mountain in China. Known for their strange laughter and erratic behavior, the two were also seen as “wandering saints,” who had awakened to the truth of Buddhism. Popular with intellectuals since ancient times, Hanshan and Shide were a traditional subject in Eastern painting.

Between the Kamakura Period (1192–1333) and the modern era, the monks also appeared in numerous Japanese paintings in a wide range of forms. Hanshan was traditionally depicted unrolling a scroll, while Shide was shown holding a broom. Since ancient times, Hanshan and Shide were also portrayed with the Zen monk Fenggan, who is said to have served as their teacher while they lived at Guoqing Temple. The three of them were also commonly depicted alongside Fenggan’s pet tiger in a motif known as the “four sleepers.”

Hanshan and Shide’s lifestyle, unconstrained by worldly concerns, was also the focus of modern Japanese literary works by Mori Ogai and Natsume Soseki. Despite their great erudition, the monks lived in a cave, and their eccentric behavior, including sating themselves on leftovers, attracted intellectuals who longed to escape from the reality of the secular world.


Related Exhibition

Thematic Exhibition
Admiring the Legendary Mad Monks: Paintings of Hanshan and Shide from the Museum Collection

September 12–November 5, 2023
Room T1 in the Japanese Gallery (Honkan), Tokyo National Museum

This exhibition presents Chinese and Japanese paintings of Hanshan and Shide from the Tokyo National Museum Collection. Visitors are invited to savor this diverse group of works featuring the poet-monks from every historical era.


General Information

Period September 12December 3, 2023
Venue Hyokeikan, Tokyo National Museum
Hours 9:3017:00
*Last admission 30 minutes before closing.
Closed Mondays (except for September 18 and October 9), September 19, and October 10

Visitors can view this exhibition without making reservations. Tickets may also be purchased at the ticket counter, but you may be asked to wait if the exhibition is crowded.

Adults: ¥1,600 (¥1,400)
University students: ¥1,400 (¥1,200)
High school students: ¥1,000 (¥800)
Junior high school students and under: Free

  • *Prices in parentheses indicate discount ticket prices for advance purchase.
  • *Persons with disabilities are admitted free with one accompanying person each (please present an ID at the ticket booth).
  • *Visitors with tickets for this exhibition may also view the regular exhibitions on the day of their visit at no extra charge.
  • *Advance tickets are available for purchase at museum ticket booths (during museum opening hours, excluding the last 30 minutes) and other major ticketing agencies from August 8 to September 11, 2023.
Access 10-minute walk from JR Ueno Station (Park exit) and Uguisudani Station
15-minute walk from Keisei Ueno Station, Tokyo Metro Ueno Station and Tokyo Metro Nezu Station
Organizers Tokyo National Museum, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan
With the Special
Sponsorship of
Canon Inc., Daiwa Securities Group, Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd., MITSUBISHI ESTATE CO., LTD., Meiji Holdings Co., Ltd.
With the Sponsorship of East Japan Railway Company, SHIMIZU CORPORATION, TAKENAKA CORPORATION, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation
With the Support of J-WAVE
Catalog The exhibition catalog (2,200 yen) is available at the Hyokeikan Special Exhibition Shop and at the museum shop in Honkan (Japanese Gallery).
General Inquiries 050-5541-8600 (Hello Dial)
Exhibition Website https://tsumugu.yomiuri.co.jp/kanzanhyakutoku/