Miki Katoh is a Japanese artist who is truly dear to our hearts here at grape Japan. Her exquisite work "Auspicious Omens" graces the top of our website (in alternation with the work of Hiroyuki-Mitsume Takahashi). As we've introduced before, Katoh’s art, mostly painted in gouache on Watson paper, depicts beautiful women in kimono against backdrops of both modern and traditional architecture. The blend of old and new juxtaposes elements that are equally familiar and reminiscent of a bygone age, all of which are painted in splendid hues of colors.

© Miki Katoh

Her work has been featured on book and CD covers, she has created children's books and most recently, she is collaborating with Kyoto kimono maker Kyoho Co., Ltd. on an original collection of kimono patterns called mizu tama tsubaki.

Solo Exhbition

Those who are visiting the Tokyo area in July will have the perfect opportunity to enjoy Miki Katoh's art since she will be having an exhibition.

Entitled Inori no Shūseki 「祈りの集積」("An Assemblage of Prayers"), her solo exhibition will run from July 13th to July 30th at Kiyoshi Art Space in Nishiazabu, Tokyo. One of the highlights of the exhibit will be her latest works on the theme of the famous Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto.

An Assemblage of Prayers

From the exhibition's website:

"After graduating from Joshibi University of Art and Design with specialization in painting, Miki Katoh initially worked freelance as an illustrator before deciding to devote herself to a career in painting. With her unique style, she has become one of Japan’s representative painters. Beginning with her solo exhibit in Taiwan, she garnered attention in Asia and internationally.

Miki Katoh’s works are characterized by a flamboyant color palette, and she realizes her works with great attention to detail in the decorative aspects of her female protagonists. At the same time, her work transcends the boundaries of Bijin-ga (paintings of beautiful women as seen in the ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the Edo Period). Through her expression of kimonos, living things, architecture and space, she ties her work to Japanese mythology, as well as views of life and death, and her work continues to reflect on our cultural climate and the nature of human psyche. Within the context of everyday life, she develops her minutely detailed world view, at times overflowing with a retro mood, at times with a style blending Western and Japanese aesthetics which reaches into our hearts.

In this solo exhibit, we introduce Miki Katoh’s new works which are centered on the concept of “prayer” as a mirror reflecting our times, together with works which have yet to be exhibited in Japan. These works express an assemblage of prayers which remain unchanged through the passage of time. We hope you will take this opportunity to visit our gallery and view them for yourself."

Here are some of the works you will see at the exhibition:

The Fox of Fushimi: Key

「伏見の狐:鍵」 Fushimi no Kitsune: Kagi (11.8" by 25.6")

Courtesy of © Miki Katoh

Built when Nara was the capital of Japan, the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, with its tunnel of vermilion gates climbing up the mountain, has been accepting visitors for 1300 years. As the central location for the 30,000 some Inari Shrines across Japan, it has collected countless prayers throughout the changing times. Though the details may change, wishes for peace, wealth and health are the same.

And for Kitsune-sama, messenger of the gods, it's just another day...

Our hearts’ desires are an element composing our present world.
A thousand years may pass and our times may change,
but prayers of the human heart are unvarying.
Past, present and future. A myriad of prayers is assembled here.
We are white foxes, messengers of the gods, granters of wishes.
Our strength is commensurate with the number of prayers humans make.

Kitsune-sama from "The Fox of Fushimi"

These works will also be exhibited:
「伏見の狐:玉」Fushimi no Kitsune: Tama (11.8" by 25.6")
「祈りの集積] Inori no Shūseki (5'4" by 3'2")


「水玉」MIZUTAMA (13.1" by 9.5"), 2018

The inspiration for this painting is the courtyard of a small temple in Kyoto called Yasaka Koshin-do. Here you will see a large number of spherical talismans made of colorful cloth, called kukurizaru ("hanging monkeys"). Their hands and feet tied, the pose represents the triumph of self-control over desires. The belief is that if you put your desire inside the talisman, the Buddhist guardian deity Koshin will help you overcome it and your wish will be fulfilled.

Courtesy of © Miki Katoh

The pattern of the kimono the young woman is wearing is part of the mizu tama tsubaki kimono brand Miki Katoh designed with Kyoho Co., Ltd.

In more detail:

Courtesy of © Miki Katoh

Courtesy of © Miki Katoh

The original design for the mizu tama tsubaki pattern:

Courtesy of © Miki Katoh

The actual pattern of the kimono and obi sash:

Courtesy of © Miki Katoh

If you are interested in this kimono or others from the mizu tama tsubaki collection, Miki Katoh expects to have them available to order from July 13th directly from Kyoho or online (URL to be announced)

Exhibition Details

  • Miki Katoh Solo Exhibition: Inori no Shūseki 「祈りの集積」
  • Dates: July 13th (Sat.) to July 30th (Tue.)
  • Hours: 11:00 to 19:00
  • Holiday: July 15th
  • Gallery: Kiyoshi Art Space
  • Adddress (JP): 東京都港区西麻布3-20-14 梅田ビル1階
  • Address (EN): 1F Umeda Bldg. 3-20-14 Nishiazabu Minato-ku Tokyo
  • Access: 8 minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Roppongi Station, 1 minute walk from the EX Theater Roppongi stop on the 01 Bus headed for Akasaka Ark Hills
  • Reception Party: July 13th (Sat.) 18:00 to 21:00
  • Website: Kiyoshi Art Space

If you are unable to attend and would like to see more of Miki Katoh's exquisite paintings, please see our earlier article introducing her work or peruse her gallery on her official website.

Miki Katoh links

Courtesy of © Miki Katoh

By - Ben K.