Next Time You're in ... Tokyo

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Kei Okano / Taka Ishii Gallery

Combine three floors of an aging industrial building with the drive of several of Tokyo's contemporary-art heavyweights and the result is striking: a cutting-edge art zone that brings together established Japanese and overseas artists as well as showcasing emerging talent.

Tomio Koyama, who started the as-yet-unnamed enclave in 2005, has situated his influential gallery in a vast white space on the building's seventh floor. Downstairs, the Taka Ishii Gallery,, is one of six galleries occupying the fifth and sixth floors and focuses on photography. Among its stellar list of exhibitors is Nobuyoshi Araki who, with more than 350 books to his name, is Japan's most published photographer and certainly — given the sexually charged nature of his corpus — one of its most explicit. Other tenants in the building include Shugo Arts,, where the exhibitions flit between video art, sculpture, photography and more abstract painting, and Miyake Fine Art,, a tiny, single room that punches well above its weight with exhibitions of artists like Andy Warhol and Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon.

It's not just the artwork that's remarkable: so is the location. The warehouse is at 1-3-2 Kiyosumi in far-from-fashionable Koto. To reach it, take exit A3 from Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station, walk past Kiyosumi Garden and look for a large concrete plant. The art warehouse is directly opposite. Exhibitors share the building with a freight company, and finding the barely marked entrance to the galleries amid the delivery trucks and forklifts takes some doing. But then cutting-edge art was never meant to be easy.

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