Yotsuya Simon Doll Museum
- Tan Ou Sou

For the Doll Museum

Being most intimate, but most incomprehensible for mankind. The ‘Dolls’ always make men who want to appreciate them uncomfortable. Are Dolls toys or artistic works? The ambiguity of their category also amplify their uncomfortableness.
What are the Dolls at all? However, the Dolls, which have been kept away by their uncomfortableness, begin to be focused paradoxically as the frontier of artistic expressions by these uncomfortableness. Recently, grand museums and galleries exhibit Dolls than ever. But in the present condition, the Dolls do not get the sufficient civil right yet. And in fact, I hear so many voices which complain the lack of Doll’s exhibition.
In this situation, my works begin to be exhibited constantly at ‘Tan Ou Sou’, the historical building of Kamada Soy Sauce Inc. This European style building is an ideal space of the exhibition for Doll artist. I never imagined the existence of such space. So, this building is very suitable as a rest place for my Dolls. It is a great pleasure for me that visitors would experience my works in the rooms which have a different atmosphere with the general museums and the galleries, and think newly by their own eyes and hearts about the Doll which is an eternal mystic existence for mankind.
Lastly, I thank to Kamada Foundation, Sano Gallery and all parties which had cooperated for the establishment of ‘Yotsuya Simon Doll Museum.’

Simon Yotsuya

About the artist

Simon Yotsuya

Simon Yotsuya

1944 Born in Tokyo. Is accustomed to dolls by souvenirs of his parents from childhood. Begins to make dolls from teenager.
1962 His work is selected to be shown at the Contemporary Doll Art Exhibition organized by The Asahi Shimbun.
1965 Learns about the works of Hans Bellmer in an article by Tatsuhiko Shibusawa in the magazine Shinfujin and begins to make ball-jointed dolls.
1967-71 Performs in the Situation Theater presided by Juro Kara and makes himself known as Simon Yotsuya.
1970 Makes René Magritte’s Man series for the Textile Pavilion at Expo 1970 in Osaka.
1972 Displays German Boy at the exhibition of portraits of Simon Yotsuya by ten photographers.
1973 First solo exhibition, “Eve of Future and Past” at Aoki Gallery in Ginza. Gets a recommendation from Tatsuhiko Shibusawa.
1978 March, March, Opens the Ecole de Simon, a school of doll making.
October, Participates in an exhibition “Ma, Japanese expression of Time and Space” held at Museé des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and exhibits dolls of Japanese monks.
1981 First group exhibition of the Ecole de Simon.
1985 Publication of the first book of his works Simon Yotsuya, Pygmalionisme (Bijutsu Shuppansha) under the supervision of Tatsuhiko Shibusawa.
2000-01 Large-scale retrospective exhibition is held at the Oita City Museum and thereafter at four other museums throughout Japan.
2002 Publication of autobiography Ningyo-sakka (Doll Artist) (Kodansha).
2003 His work The Man becomes the model of the character ‘Kim’ in the animation film Innocence directed by Mamoru Oshii.
2004 January, Participates in the exhibition “POUPÉES (DOLLS)” held at Halle Saint-Pierre in Paris and exhibits Pygmalionisme, Narcissism and 2 other dolls. His doll is selected for the general poster of the exhibition.
February, Participates in the general exhibition of Ball-jointed dolls held at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and exhibits 11 dolls.
July, Begins constant exhibition of his works at in Kamada Soy Sauce.
2010 Exhibition “Simon Yotsuya and his friends, Bellmer in Japan” is held in Katowice (Poland) which is the birthplace of Bellmer by whom he was much influenced in his youth.
2014 2nd large-scale retrospective exhibition “SIMONDOLL” is held at Sogo Museum in Yokohama and at Otani memorial Art Museum Nishinomiya City.
2016 26 portraits of Simon Yotsuya taken by Eikoh Hosoe are exhibited in the exhibition “Performing for the Camera” at Tate Modern in London.
2017 July, Publication of the revised edition of autobiography Ningyo-sakka .
October, His work Mechanical Girl is exhibited in the 30th memorial exhibition of Tatsuhiko Shibusawa’s death “Tatsuhiko Shibusawa, the horizon of Draconia” held at Setagaya Literary Museum in Tokyo and participates in a memorial talk.
2018 Talks with his assistant Takio Sugawara at the 100th memorial open lecture of the establishment of Kamada Foundation.
2019 His works Eve of Future and Past and Mechanical Girl 2 are exhibited in the exhibition “Sense of Humor” held at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Gallery in Roppongi, Tokyo.

A house for dolls, Tan Ou Sou

The Tan Ou Sou is a two-story, Western-style concrete structure built in 1936 by Tan Ou/Katsutaro Kamada as a reception hall. The first floor is roughly 141 square meters with Japanese-style rooms, and the Western-style second floor is roughly 125 square meters. It was built by the Osaka branch of partnership in commendam Shimizu Gumi.
The building was originally connected with the surrounding wood structure house, but due to deterioration was renovated into a stand-alone structure under the design and supervision of Hayakawa Architect & Associates (Tokyo), with about 50 square meters added to the administrative first floor. It became a Registered Tangible Cultural Property in December 2014.

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