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A Visit to the Yayoi Kusama Museum

Raye at the Yayoi Kusama Museum in Tokyo, Japan

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is known worldwide for her colorful works of art. Kusama, who is 94, suffers from mental illness. Since childhood, she has experienced vivid hallucinations. 

Her jarring experiences have inspired her art. She is best known for drawing vibrant polka dots, pumpkins, sea creatures, and other fantastical images. 

“I still see hallucinations even now,” Kusama told a British newspaper in 2017. “Dots come flying everywhere—on my dress, the floor, things I’m carrying, throughout the house, the ceiling. And I paint them.”

In 2017, Kusama opened a museum in Tokyo, Japan’s capital. The art on display at the Yayoi Kusama Museum represents a lifetime of creation. 


The museum is located in a modern, five-story building.  


Kusama was a teenager during World War II. During that time, she made drawings reflecting the horrors of war.

In 1958, she moved to New York City. There, Kusama became a leader of the avant-garde movement. The term refers to artists of the 20th century who experimented in their work and went against the norms of society.  

In the 1970s, Kusama moved back to Japan. She turned to art therapy to help her cope with severe depression. Eventually, Kusama moved to a mental health facility, where she still resides. 

Her art, which has been exhibited around the world, includes videos, poetry, and fashion. Kusama often wears a distinctive orange wig and colorful Japanese kimonos. 

The museum she founded, which is run by her foundation, is housed in a modern, five-story building. It attracts visitors from around the world. They are eager to see Kusama’s colorful paintings, as well as an “infinity room” she created. The room is filled with mirrors to give viewers a sense of the vastness of the universe. 

On the day of my visit, I toured an exhibit called “Visionary Colors.” While there, I met Kate Lucas from the United States. She was happy to get the chance to see Kusama’s work. “There’s something emotional in her artwork,” Lucas said, “and she is playful.” 





Photos courtesy of the author