Past Exhibitions

Where Am I? -The Art and Design of Signage

March 9 - May 19, 2019

“Signage” refers to indicators that guide people to their destinations. While we usually don’t tend to consciously think about them, there are various forms of signage around us such as informatory signs, guiding displays, arrows, and pictograms in numerous places from stations, airports, commercial facilities, to museums. On the other hand, as observed from phrases like “the guideposts for life’s journey,” various places and the path by which we arrive them are inextricably linked to the ways of human life.
This exhibition focuses on the concept of “Signage=guides” and together with sign designs by graphic designers, introduces contemporary artworks that pursue relationships with place. We consider how people have attempted to understand and communicate various places and spaces, approaching the question of “Where am I?” that unravels amidst such context through both perspectives of art and design.


Period March 9 [Sat.] - May 19 [Sun.], 2019
Opening Hours 9:30 AM-6:00 PM [Last admission is 5:30 PM]
Closed Wednesdays [except May 1]
March 22 [Fri.] and May 7 [Tue.], 2019
Admission Adults 900yen [*700yen], University students 450yen [*350yen], Advance ticket 700yen
  • For groups of 20 people or more, admission fees in [* ] are applied.
  • Advance tickets are available until March 8 [Fri.], 2019.
  • Tickets for the special exhibitions also include admission to the collection exhibition.
  • Free admission both to collection exhibitions and special exhibitions for the following visitors.
    1. Children, students [elementary, junior high or high school students, etc.]
    2. Persons escorting children/students for school activities or social activities. [Submission of admission free application is necessary.]
    3. Disabled people with a physical disability certificate.
  • For seniors [70 and above] and university students or younger, admission to collection exhibitions is free.
  • Please note that the Museum may be closed for maintenance or an exhibition change out.
  • Opening hours and days of the Museum may be changed depending on seasons or events.
Venue 2F exhibition room 3, 4
Organized by Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design, The Toyama Shimbun, Tulip TV Inc.

About the authors

Sayaka AKIYAMA(Contemporary Artist)

Sayaka Akiyama was born in 1971 in Hyogo Prefecture, and currently lives and works in Kanagawa Prefecture. She completed a Masters in Fine Art at Joshibi University of Art and Design in 2001. Akiyama continues to produce work while journeying to various locations both within Japan and overseas, pursuing an original means of expression that deeply reflect the relationship between herself and the places that she visits, such as recording her own activities through stitching on maps, and gathering and sewing together the variety of things she encountered on the travels. Her recent exhibitions include the Saitama Triennale 2016, Nissan Art Award 2015, and “Waiting for the First Train” (Tokyo Station Gallery, 2012). Her works are housed the public collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and the Fondanzine Sandretto Re Rabaudengo (Italy) among others. She is the recipient of the 21st Annual Takashimaya Art Award (2010).

Yoshiaki IROBE(Graphic Designer / Art Director)

Yoshiaki Irobe was born in 1974 in Chiba Prefecture. Upon completing a Master’s at the Tokyo University of the Arts, he joined The Nippon Design Center Inc. Following his work at the Hara Design Institute; he has presided over the Irobe Design Institute since 2011, and is a part-time lecturer at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Irobe undertakes design work across a broad spectrum, applying his graphic design techniques with his editorial perspective, from two- and three-dimensional graphics to spatial design. His recent major works include, branding for the Osaka Metro and national parks; and signage planning for the Yayoi Kusama Museum, Ichihara Lakeside Museum, and Tenri Station Plaza CoFuFun. He has received numerous design awards both in Japan and abroad, including awards from the Japan Sign Design Association (SDA), Japan Graphic Designers Association (JAGDA), Tokyo Art Directors Club (ADC), British Design and Art Direction (D&AD), and One Show Design. He is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), and ADC, and serves a Member of the Board Director of the Nippon Design Center Inc. He designed the signage planning for Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design.

Kaoru KASAI(Art Director)

Kaoru Kasai was born in 1949 in Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture. Initially working at Bunka Printing Co., Ltd. and then Ohtani Design, he has been employed at SUN-AD Co., Ltd. since 1973. Kasai’s creative activities cover a wide range, such as advertisement production and art direction for the Suntory Oolong Tea series, United Arrows, and Toraya Confectionery; Cl and signage planning for Suntory and Roppongi Commerce Association; advertising for cinema and theater; and book design. He has received numerous awards including the Asahi Advertising Award, Tokyo ADC Grand Prix, Mainichi Design Award, Kodansha Publishing Culture Award for Book Design, and the Ayao Yamana Award at the Japan Advertising Awards. His recent works include CI and package designs for “TORAYA CAFÉ・AN STAND” and the book design for Japanese edition of The Diaries of Paul Klee (Misuzu Shobo, Ltd., 2018). His publications include KASAI Kaoru 1968 (ADP, 2018).

Kana KOU(Contemporary Artist)

Kana Kou was born in 1975 in Tokyo. She completed a Bachelor’s in Design at the Faculty of Art, Hiroshima City University in 2002. Since 2017, she is a part-time lecturer of the Sculpture Course, Faculty of Art, Hiroshima City University. Based on her own bodily experiences and memories such as climbing mountains and diving in the ocean, Kou engages with natural landscapes in her surroundings as materials to produce works dealing with themes of time, space, and the universe. Her recent solo exhibitions include, “Cosmic Cactus” (Art Front Gallery, Tokyo, 2016), “Snow Reflected in Plumeria” (Moerenuma Park Glass Pyramid, Sapporo, 2015), with participations in group exhibitions such as “Doboku: Civil Engineering” (21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, Tokyo, 2016 / Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, 2018), “MOT Annual 2014: Fragments –Incomplete Beginnings” (Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2014), and the Setouchi Triennale 2013.

Shuetsu SATO(Security Guard)

Shuetsu Sato was born in 1953 in Iwate Prefecture. He currently works at JR Shinjuku Station as a security guard registered with Sanwa Keibi Co., Ltd. He started producing handcrafted guide signs using duct-tape in 2003, while working on a construction site in JR Shinjuku Station. Their unique font with rounded corners made by taping variously in vertical and horizontal directions had received much attention on the internet and via word-of-mouth, and came to be referred to as “Shuetsu-Tai.” Sato has worked in JR Nippori Station since 2007, producing information signs during the station’s renovation work. He has also designed the tittle lettering for the film Where The Legend Lives (2008) as well as for various advertisements and CDs. His recent exhibitions include, “Buntai no Renshyu” (Tomonotsu Museum, Hiroshima, 2018). He is the author of the publication Let’s Write With Duct Tape (supervision: Sekai Bunka Publishing Inc., 2009).

Yuichiro TAMURA(Contemporary Artist)

Yuichiro Tamura was born in 1977 in Toyama Prefecture, and currently lives and works in Atami and Kyoto. He completed a Bachelor’s in Photography at Nihon University, and a doctoral degree at the Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts. He served as a guest researcher for the Institutfür Raumexperimente, Olafur Eliasson class at the Berlin University of the Arts (2013-14). Tamura creates new means communication with viewers through appropriating independent forms of reflection that are unbound to existing categories such as video and art. He has participated in numerous exhibition both in Japan and overseas including “Roppongi Crossing 2019: Connexions” (Mori Art Museum, 2019), the Busan Biennale 2018, Nissan Art Award 2017, “Essay: Glory and the End, or that Weekend / Week End” (Kurumaya Museum of Art, Oyama City, Tochigi, 2017), and “BODY/PLAY/POLITICS (Yokohama Museum of Art, 2016).

Masaaki HIROMURA(Graphic Designer)

Masaaki Hiromura was born in 1954 in Aichi Prefecture. After working at Tanaka Ikko Design Office, he established Hiromura Design Office in 1988. Centering on graphic design, Hiromura has worked on a numerous projects including CI, VI planning, and sign designs for commercial facilities and museums. He is a Visiting Professor at Tama Art University, and is the Representative Director of Japan Creative. His major works include art direction and designs for the signage systems of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Yokosuka Museum of Art, 9h (Nine Hours), Sumida Aquarium, Abeno Harukas, National Taichung Theater, the Nagoya Castle Hommaru Palace, Sogo & Seibu Co., Ltd, and Loft. He has received numerous awards such as the Mainichi Design Award, KU/KAN Award, SDA Award (Grand Prize), and the Good Design Award (Gold Prize). His recent publications include From Design to Design (ADP, 2015).


Sayaka AKIYAMA, the creating scene at TAD (January 14, 2019)

Sayaka AKIYAMA, the creating scene at TAD (January 14, 2019)   ©Ryohei YANAGIHARA

Yoshiaki IROBE, sign of museum at Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design

Yoshiaki IROBE, sign of museum at Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design   Scheme of sign: Yoshiaki IROBE, Supervisor: Kazumasa NAGAI

Kaoru KASAI,  Tokyo Metropolitan Tsubasa Sogo Senior Highschool, 2002

Kaoru KASAI, Tokyo Metropolitan Tsubasa Sogo Senior Highschool, 2002   

Kana KOU, series for Tateyama air vehicle (tentative title), work's image

Kana KOU, series for Tateyama air vehicle (tentative title), work's image   

Shuetsu SATO, JR Nippori Station yard map, 2008

Shuetsu SATO, JR Nippori Station yard map, 2008   

Yuichiro TAMURA, work's image (Szymon Goldberg Collection)

Yuichiro TAMURA, work's image (Szymon Goldberg Collection)