In what is his first museum show in Tokyo in years and a featuring his monumental 100m long painting, Takashi Murakami will be opening "The 500 Arhats" at the Mori Art Museum.

In what is his first museum show in Tokyo in years and a featuring his monumental 100m long painting, Takashi Murakami will be opening "The 500 Arhats" at the Mori Art Museum on Saturday, October 31, 2015. Obviously, since we spent time with Takashi in Tokyo this past summer and did a cover story about this work in the July issue, we are excited to see such an immense grouping and historical view of the aritst's work.

Takashi Murakami "The 500 Arhats" @ Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

Here is part of our conversation with Takashi this past summer:

You have a mixed relationship with Japanese art critics. Do you remember when you first started showing internationally and how the Japanese audience started treating you? I was already established in Japan. Japanese critics were fifty-fifty with me! Some liked me, some didn’t. It was a good balance. But when I started to show in the West and had success, almost 90% said no, he isn’t good, he is cheating for the Western audience. Cheating?
Takashi Murakami: This is Japanese history. The complex here toward the West is big, and I have that same feeling.

You have the same feeling about the West?
Yeah, I have a complex. I thought I had to go to the West, to the capital of the art world, and build my career n New York City.

Can I play devil’s advocate? Even though some critics in Japan may not like that success in the West, isn’t it still healthy that people are talking about art?
Since I started, I have had big questions about how art fits in with Japanese people. If you look back, say, 400 years ago, in the Edo period, Japan had an emperor and the emperor system but it was really the warrior that maintained the governance of the country. The emperor was an icon and Japanese people need an icon. During the Edo period, things got put into a pyramid. It was a very strict time, socially. You had the warriors and samurais at the top, farmers below, then craftsmen, then businessmen.

At the bottom is the artist, is that what you are getting at?
This is the concept of the pyramid. Artist at the bottom. That is what I bring to the Superflat concept. Superflat is like cheating the system, cheating the way we look at things in Japan.

What do Japanese critics expect artists to be doing now?
It’s almost that the most respectable artist is the comedian, which is really confusing, right? And maybe this is because that sort of art has no understanding for the Western people. A good example is the film director Takeshi Kitano. If he makes a great film that would win a prize at the Venice Film Festival, the Japanese people don’t like that as much as it's too respected by the West. When he makes a comedy, Japanese people will respect him more. So the most respectable artist is the comedian, the second is the manga creator and third one is the musician. And then maybe, [taps the bottom of the table] there is Takashi [laughs].

Takashi Murakami: The 500 Arhats
October 31-March 6, 2016
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo