Past Exhibition Special Exhibition

Ayashii : Decadent and Grotesque Images of Beauty in Modern Japanese Art



Special Exhibition Gallery (1st floor)

About the Exhibition

Japan in the Meiji period (1868–1912) received Western knowledge and technology in every field. Inspired by the Western counterpart, Japanese art also adapted itself to the new era.
Many works produced under the circumstances contain expressions other than “simple beauty,” such as decadence, sensuousness, grotesqueness, and eroticism. Stirring controversy in the art world, this tendency reached the populace through art and illustrations for literature as the reflections of people’s desire and anxiety in a turbulent age. illustrations for literature
This exhibition illustrates the trend with paintings, prints, and illustrations from magazines and books produced in the period from the mid-19th century until around 1930.


1. Unforgettable Masterpieces

This exhibition illustrates “negatives” of beauty in modern Japanese art with works full of mysterious charm, including Uemura Shoen’s Flame and Flower Basket, and Kaburaki Kiyokata’s Enchanted Mermaid.

2. Full of Deep, Strange Works

The show presents many works with intense strangeness and beauty that burns into your brain, including Kainosho Tadaoto’s Side Comb, Tachibana Sayume’s Anchin and Kiyohime, and Hada Teruo’s Blood Pond.

3. Mysterious Stories That Capture Your Mind

Stories such as the Legend of Anchin and Kiyohime and The Saint of Mt. Koya (Koya Hijiri) inspired various artists to develop them in their works. Imaginary stories and those presenting mysterious women are attractive also to us, as they were in the Meiji and Taisho periods (1868–1926).

4. And Western Art!

This exhibition also presents works of Western art that had an impact on Japanese artists, including those of Alphonse Mucha, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, and Edward Burne-Jones.

Exhibition Catalogue

Hours & Admissions


Special Exhibition Gallery (1st floor)


March 23–May 16, 2021


9:30-17:00 ( Fridays and Saturdays open until 20:00 )

  • From May 12 to 16 open until 20:00
  • Last admission : 30 minutes before closing.
  • MOMAT Collection and Hallucinating Lenses – Primarily from the Museum Collection that opens at 10:00.

Mondays (except March 29 and May 3) and May 6
*Temporary closure from April 25


Adults ¥1,800
College/University students ¥1,200
High School students ¥700

  • All prices include tax.
  • Admission is free for Junior High School students, under 15, and those with Disability Certificates and one caregiver accompanying each of them. Please present ID at the entrance.
  • Including the admission fee for MOMAT Collection.

The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
The Mainichi Newspapers Co., Ltd.
Nikkei Inc.


Sompo Japan Insurance Inc.
Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd

Touring Date

Osaka Museum of History, July 3–August 15, 2021

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