In the simultaneously stylish and seedy Tokyo neighborhood known as Roppongi lies the headquarters of Japanese TV giant TV Asahi. In addition to being host to a Doraemon-themed cafe promoting the new movie with a theme song by Perfume, something else Nakata Yasutaka-related lies on the opposite side of the building.
The Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Museum.
For a mere 800 yen patrons can explore a dream like Kyary-inspired world and cast their eyes upon the many strange and wonderful dresses she has donned in several music videos and live shows. True believers can pay an extra 500 yen to slap on a pair of headphones with giant colorful bows stuck on top on them for the (I assume) Kyary-narrated audio tour. Clever folks who bought tickets early are let in for the discounted price of 600 yen.
As you walk in, you’re greeted by two spunky young Kyary-clones complete with blonde wigs and giant bows on their heads standing in a bright Kyary-colored room. Upon handing one of the clones the entrance fee, you’re granted access to the main event.
The main area of the exhibit is surprisingly sparse. All of the display items are kept within pure white circus carts behind bars on the exhibit hall’s black-and-white striped floor. As one peers into the carts, one briefly enters Kyary’s vibrant world as each display item is complemented by lively bright backdrops, while a playlist of Kyary songs plays on loop.
The exhibit floor is not just sparse, but also very dark. I tried to get a picture of myself in front of the display of Fashion Monster props, but my face came out shrouded in shadows. While perhaps appropriate for a Halloween-themed song, it doesn’t make for a nice photo.
I see what they’re doing artistically–there’s a deliberate contrast between the dark main floor and the more colorful reception area, displays, and gift shop. Apparently the idea is that an evil witch is on a quest to turn Kyary’s cute world plain, and it’s up to you to save it. But it all feels a bit too sparse. Rather than just leaving the display cases a plain white, there should be some alternation of black and white, or monochromatic circus designs on them. It feels real life plain as opposed to we’re-trying-to-sell-you-on-this-fantasy plain. Even for 800 yen it feels a bit too cheap. I’d pay 500.
But perhaps it’s that extra 300 yen that allows you to take pictures, and as many as you want! Yes, while I am being nit-picky about the floor, there are a number of good things about the Kyary Museum, one being that you can take pictures–a rarity anywhere in a country obsessed with controlling information. Of course, the exhibit’s main draw–the dresses–are interesting to see. One thing one notices about the dresses is how cheaply put together the early outfits are. It’s obvious that the budget at first wasn’t super high, and one truly begins to understand the magic of things like lighting, framing, and color balance. I never noticed that Kyary’s skirt in Tsukema Tsukeru was made out of snack bags, but it is.
The exhibit also likes to have fun with how it displays the dresses. There are a few cases that, upon placing your head into an opening in the case, you find yourself staring into a mirror reflecting your face on top of one of Kyary’s dresses. There’s another hole nearby for patrons to stick their smartphones in order to easily snap pictures.
At the end of the exhibit is a set of buttons adorned with strange symbols. If one had donned the Kyary-phones at the beginning of the exhibit they would have been privy to hints that allow them to crack the code, but thankfully these hints are also hidden in the backdrops of the various displays, so after a few random guesses on my part, my smarter companion cracked the code in one try. We were then treated to this…
Yeah, it’s not much, but it’s a little fun.
At the end lies the inevitable gift shop filled with all manner of merchandise, composed primarily of badges, t-shirts and mugs. I almost bought a funky Kyary t-shirt, but they were all a bit too flashy for my tastes. Also, I’m poor. The gift shop also had more dresses on display, propped up on a colorful circus stage. Seeing as these are more recent numbers, the difference in detail and quality from the earlier dresses is night and day.
Right as you make your way out of the exhibit, one is treated to one final display composed of the kimono, dress and weird creature from the recent Furisodeshon video. Makes for a great photo op.
All said, the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu museum is worth a visit, despite production values being a little on the low side. Looking at the outfits is fun, and you can take some goofy pictures. Book a ticket early and you can get in for just the right price. If anyone opts to take the audio tour, leave impressions in the comments.
Further information can be found at the exhibit’s official site.
Further photos can be found on my Flickr.