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The Restoration of Taro Okamoto’s Huge, Lost Mural
  ‘Myth of Tomorrow’

In the autumn of 2003 the huge mural, ‘Myth of Tomorrow’, that had long been thought lost, was discovered in a Mexican suburb.

This mural features an image of the tragic moment in which an atomic bomb explodes.
However, it is not simply a picture of the victims.
The powerful message contained in this work by Taro Okamoto is that human beings are capable of proudly overcoming even the cruelest of tragedies and giving birth to ‘a myth of tomorrow’.

Created at approximately the same time as his ‘Tower of the Sun’, this work and the tower were said ‘to form a pair’; it is one of Taro Okamoto’s greatest works and is indispensable in tracing the course of his art, making it extremely valuable.
Unfortunately, however, it was abandoned in poor conditions for many years, resulting in it suffering major damage. It was at this point that a restoration project was established within the Okamoto Memorial Foundation to ship the work back to Japan, renovate it then place it on display where it could be seen by as many people as possible.
The mural was transported to Japan and restoration work completed by June 2006, with it going on display for the first time at Shiodome in July of the same year. It was only shown there for fifty days, but despite the limited period, it succeeded in attracting approximately two million visitors.
Next, the work was shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) from April 2007 to June 2008. In March of 2008 it was decided that it should be placed on permanent display in Shibuya station and since November 18 of that year, it has been installed in the walkway connecting the rail station with Shibuya Mark City.
With the support of numerous people, the ‘Myth of Tomorrow Restoration Project’ has succeeded in reaching an important milestone and we would like to take this opportunity of express our deep gratitude to everybody involved.
The story of the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ will continue, and your future support will be greatly appreciated.

The Official Opening of ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ (November 17, 2008)

View of Installation in the Walkway Connecting Shibuya Station and Shibuya Mark City (October 17, 2008)


Commemorative Symposium to Mark the Successful Bid for the Installation of ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ new
Held at Aoyama Gakuin University, October 28, 2008 (Tuesday)

Installation of Taro Okamoto’s ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ and the Cultural Maturity of the Shibuya/Aoyama Area
Date/Time: October 28, 2008 (Tuesday). 16:00-18:00, Doors Open 15:30
Venue: Large Assembly Hall, 11F, Aoyama Gakuin University Research Institute.
Access: 5 mins. from Omotesando Station, 7 mins from Shibuya Station *Admission Free
Organized by: School of Cultural and Creative Studies, Aoyama Gakuin University, Conservation and Succession of ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ NPO
Taro Okamoto Memorial Foundation for the Promotion of Contemporary Art


Report: Establishment of the NPO and the Holding of ‘Taro Week’
Masayasu Kobayashi (Director, Conservation and Succession of ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ NPO
Student Volunteers, Aoyama Gakuin University

Speech: Taro Okamoto’s Challenge to the Present Day
Akiomi Hirano (Director, Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum)

Special Guest: Takao Tajima (Original Love, Musician)

Panel Discussion:
How to Confront the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ and What to Pass On to the Future
Katsumi Asaba (Art Director)
Norio Iguchi (Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University)
Risa Tanaka (Editor-in-Chief of ‘Sendenkaigi’ Magazine
Mayumi Tsuruoka (Professor, Tama Art University)
Michihiko Yanai (Creative Director)

Shibuya to be Permanent Site for ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ in Shibuyanew

The Taro Okamoto Memorial Foundation for the Promotion of Contemporary Art has selected Shibuya as the permanent site to display the mural ‘Myth of Tomorrow’. The foundation received official offers from three areas to house the work: Shibuya, Hiroshima and Suita. After studying the proposals and visiting the various sites, the selection committee carried out a strict and impartial screening, before finally arriving at its decision at a board meeting on March 18, 2008.

In making this selection, numerous factors were considered, including the significance of the site, its environment, its preparedness to receive the work, etc. Of them all, Shibuya demonstrated the best balance of conditions, and received the highest assessment overall.

All three sites that volunteered to house the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ were eminently suitable for the work, and it was an extremely difficult decision to make. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Hiroshima and Suita, whose enthusiastic bids unfortunately did not prove successful and also offer our gratitude to all the people of Nagasaki and the other places who also held campaigns to install the work.

Regarding further details, we are currently in consultation with our counterparts in Shibuya Ward. A new report will be issued as soon as details have been decided.

Image of the Installation of ‘Myth of Tomorrow’
Special Public Viewing of ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo ‘Surpass Taro! Enlarge the “Myth of Tomorrow”’new
Date: April 27, 2007 (Friday) - June 29, 2008 (Sunday)
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo,
‘Myth of Tomorrow’ Special Workshop
The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, is currently holding a special public viewing of Taro Okamoto’s ‘Myth of Tomorrow’. A special workshop will also be held in connection with this, entitled, ‘Surpass Taro! Enlarge the “Myth of Tomorrow”’
The ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ is a vast mural, 30 meters long and 5.5 meters high.
Would you like to make this huge picture even bigger?
How can that be achieved? All it needs is for everybody to use their imaginations.
Imagine the world outside of the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ and draw the surrounding scenery.
Come on, let’s challenge Taro!
■Summary of Event/Participation Details
Date/Time : October 1, 2007 (Monday), 13:00 - 16:30
Open to : Elementary school students and above
Admittance Capacity : 80 (on a first-come-first-served basis)
Participation Fee : Free (October 1 is Tokyo Citizens’ Day so entry to the permanent exhibition is also free)
Venue : 2f Auditorium and Permanent Exhibition Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
‘Myth of Tomorrow’ Special Public Viewing at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
The Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, (Koto-ku, Tokyo), and the Taro Okamoto Memorial Foundation for the Promotion of Contemporary Art (Aoyama, Tokyo), will hold a special public viewing from April 27, 2007, of Taro Okamoto’s (1911-1996) huge mural, ‘Myth of Tomorrow’, that was first displayed at Shiodome last year.
After the Shiodome exhibition, the mural was placed in storage in Tokyo, but due to overwhelming interest, it has been decided that it should be shown again, this time for the limited period of one year at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.
Press Conference, (February 15, 2007) Conceptual Drawing of Installation
First Sketch of ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ Discovered ― Painted Over in White. Picture Identified Using Infrared Photography

The draft sketch is 290mm high by 1,815mm wide and was painted in 1967 using oil on canvas. Discovered at the studio at the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum, together with ‘Lightning Bolt’ and other sketches, the entire surface of the canvas had been painted white. A faint trace of a painting could be seen through the white surface and when it was photographed using infrared, the first draft of the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ was revealed.

Prior to this, it was thought that only four drafts of the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ existed, (Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum; Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki; The Museum of Modern Art, Toyama; and Nagoya City Art Museum), but this new discovery led to a new research of photographic material, proving this to be the first draft of the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’. This draft will be exhibited together with the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ mural in a special public viewing at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo from April 27, 2007 (Friday) to April 13, 2008 (Sunday).

The state of the first draft of ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ as it was discovered (above), infrared photograph (below)
Venue : Permanent Exhibition Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (4-1-1, Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo)
A Message from Toshiko Okamoto for ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ (this text was written prior to Toshiko Okamoto’s death)
The ‘Myth of Tomorrow’, which depicts the instant of an atomic bomb explosion, is Taro Okamoto’s largest and greatest masterpiece.
An evil mushroom cloud, with vast destructive power, grows as it rises in the sky, while below, skeletons can be seen burning. It is a moment of tragedy and brutality.
Innocent creatures try to escape. Insects, fish and animals, can be seen scattering as they attempt to flee the picture, heroically summoning their last reserves of strength. The fishing boat, Daigo Fukuryumaru, also appears, hauling in its catch of tuna without realizing it was exposed to nuclear fallout. Behind the burning skeletons in the center, the silhouettes of dead people can be seen emitting small flames and forming a line that continues endlessly. Furthermore, they are also being attacked by the sinister black cloud overhead.
It is a world of tragedy.
However, this picture is not just the usual image of an atomic bomb, depicting the wretched, unsightly victims. The indescribable beauty and nobility of the burning skeletons; the vivid red of the dancing flames that dominate the vast picture, spreads across it in an almost elegant fashion.
The ends of the ever-expanding mushroom cloud remain like newborn babies, their innocent faces looking down at the world below in surprise.
The furiously expanding composition of the picture. The powerful prime colors. The whole picture roars with laughter. It does not give way to tragedy.
In the moment that this sinister power of destruction explodes, it is rivaled in intensity only by human pride, which burns with pure indignation.
The title, ‘Myth of Tomorrow’, is symbolic.
This moment does not spread only death, destruction and sterility. Although connoting a cruel tragedy, it simultaneously proudly marks the birth of a ‘Myth of Tomorrow’.
This is what Taro Okamoto believed. The picture represents a poignant message from him. It is a pure, clear cry that cannot be transmitted any other way than through art.
The purity. The furious disconnectedness that can almost be described as lyrical.
The twenty-first century is an insecure time and we cannot see what the future will bring. Terrorism, revenge, endless slaughter, nuclear proliferation, the ominous spread of viruses… we appear to be following a path that will lead to the irreversible destruction of the earth. At a time like this, the picture sends out a strong, sharp message.
I will never be beaten! The whole picture roars with laughter, exploding with great pride.
Toshiko Okamoto
‘Myth of Tomorrow’ ― A Chronological Table
A Mexican businessman visits Japan and commissions a mural to be installed in a hotel he is building in the center of Mexico City.
Taro travels to Mexico, takes over a building that is under construction as a supermarket to use as his studio, and starts work. He takes time from his work at the site of the Osaka World Expo to visit Mexico numerous times where he continues work on the mural.
The almost completed mural is temporarily installed in the lobby of the hotel. Taro prepares to carry out the finishing stage of the work.
―The client’s business falls into financial difficulties and the hotel is abandoned unfinished.
―The hotel is acquired by somebody else. The mural is removed and stored at various places around the country, its whereabouts eventually becoming unknown.
Toshiko Okamoto identifies the mural that was discovered in storage in the outskirts of Mexico City.
An office for the Restoration Project is established within the Taro Okamoto Memorial Foundation for the Promotion of Contemporary Art. Work begins in earnest on the transport and restoration of the mural.
The mural is transported to Japan. Work starts on the restoration.
Taro with the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’
  View of the Creation of Myth of Tomorrow (1968-1969)   Dismantling and Packing (Mexico) (April 10, 2005)
View of Restoration Work
(August 25, 2005)
  View of Restoration Work
(November 18, 2005)
  Erection Complete
(December 5, 2005)
Special Class at Local Elementary School
(February 21, 2006)
  View of Restoration Work
(May 26, 2006)
  Nittere Plaza, Shiodom
July 8-August, 2006
Nittere Plaza, Shiodome
July 8-August, 2006
  Nittere Plaza, Shiodome
July 8-August, 2006
  Nittere Plaza, Shiodome
July 8-August, 2006
Check here for further details on the ‘Myth of Tomorrow’ Revival Project’