The Toubi Shofuda kai, organised by the Tokyo Art Dealer Association, is an exhibition and sale that even beginners in the art world can participate in without worry. Held annually in Tokyo in July and December, the products on display are all selected by ‘connoisseurs’ belonging to the association. Anyone are easily accessible at affordable prices, making it a recommended event for overseas visitors.
About 10,000 works of art in one place
The Toubi Shofuda kai is an exhibition and sale of about 10,000 works of art, including tea ceremony utensils and paintings, all in one place. The semi-annual major sale is held on the first Saturday and Sunday of July and December every year, and features items starting at 20,000 yen per item, although no discounts are offered.
The Toubi Shofuda kai was started in 1952, soon after the end of the war. The organising body, the Tokyo Art Dealer Association, is a historic organisation founded in 1907 with the aim of preserving and utilising Japan’s outstanding works of art and spreading correct awareness and understanding of art, and is a cooperative comprising antique shops, art dealers and others.
The Tokyo Art Dealer Association started the Toubi Shofuda kai with the aim of selling not only art works but also tea ceremony utensils, paintings and tableware at reasonable prices at a time when there were few shops selling art works in Japan immediately after the war and when trying to buy tableware at department stores was extremely expensive.
‘Shofuda’ is a tag with a no-haggle price written on it, and although it is not uncommon to negotiate the price when buying art works, at the Shofuda kai you can safely buy a ‘connoisseur’ piece selected by a member art dealer at a price that is in line with the price.
In 2022, the first online fair was held to celebrate the 70th anniversary.
The best part is “seeing, touching, buying and enjoying”
Japanese and Western-style paintings, old books, tea ceremony utensils and other art objects from art dealers all over the country are on display in the halls on the first to fourth floors of the Tokyo Bijutsu Club building. Admission is free, so anyone with an interest in art, whether they are familiar with it or are just starting out in the art world, can enjoy the exhibition.
Buying is simple. Visitors receive a tag marked ‘Sold’ at the reception desk and place the tag next to the price tag of the product they want. However, it is not necessary to purchase the item, and the tag can be cancelled (i.e. collected by the visitor) within one hour after it has been placed.
In addition, the art dealer’s staff will be present at the exhibition, and can give you a detailed explanation of the items. When making a purchase, the sale is concluded by informing the person in charge.
The real appeal of the Toubi Shoufuda kai lies in ‘seeing, touching, buying and enjoying’.
Mr Takahisa Yamada, representative of the antique art shop (tea ceremony utensils) Gyokuhodo, founded in 1895, says: “Tea ceremony utensils are originally meant to be used. Today is the age of the internet, but I think more and more people are enjoying the style of visiting places like this to find something they like and then using it”.
“However, tea utensils are not necessarily only to be used at tea ceremonies. I think it is also wonderful to use them naturally at the table in everyday life. The prices of the items on display at the Shofuda kai vary, but many of them are relatively inexpensive. I would like visitors to experience actually seeing, touching and feeling the history of the items and incorporating what they like into their daily lives.”
Very easy! Find out more about how to buy
- Receive a tag marked ‘sold’ from the staff.
- Place the tag marked ‘sold” on the product you have chosen and take a tag marked ‘purchase’ next to the work instead.
- After the exchange, hand the tag marked ‘purchase’ to the staff within one hour to settle the bill.
The following methods of payment are available at the Tobi Shofuda Kai.
Cash: You can purchase artworks directly at the venue using cash.
Credit card: payments by credit card are accepted.
(*For more information, please check the information at the venue or the official website.)
Toubi Shofuda kai is held twice a year, in summer and autumn. The next scheduled events are as follows.
Date and time 1 Dec 2023, 10am-6pm / 2 Dec 2023, 10am-4pm
Venue Tokyo Art Club
Organised by Tokyo Art Dealer Association
・2-minute walk from Onarimon Station (Mita Line), Exit A4
・5 min walk from Exit A4 of Daimon Station on Asakusa Line and Oedo Line
・10-minute walk from Karasumori Exit of JR Shinbashi Station
・10-minute walk from Shimbashi Station on the Ginza and Asakusa Lines
・10-minute walk from the North Exit of JR Hamamatsucho Station
Tokyo Art Club https://www.toobi.co.jp/index_jp.html