Chronology of Yotsuya Simon

1944
Born July 12 in Gotanda, Tokyo, as the eldest son of Kobayashi Kanejiro and his wife Tsutayo. His parents name him Kanemitsu. His father is a violinist specializing in tango music, and his mother is a dancer who was a pupil of Ishii Baku.
1953 (age 9)
Mother disappears from the home.
1954 (age 10)
Leaves home with younger brother Kanendo (later becomes a photographer) and goes to live Mother's house.
Makes a skeleton mask, which he saw in the movie Fuefuki doji (The Piper Boy), out of paperclay.
1956 (age 12)
Goes to see Father for the last time.
Becomes an admirer of dollmaker Kawasaki Puppe. Begins making paperclay and stuffed dolls.
1958 (age 14)
Goes often to exhibitions of dolls, including those at the Nitten exhibition, and reads all the books he can find on the subject.
Studies under several doll artists, trying to determine what kind of doll he wants to make.
1959 (age 15)
Graduates a high school as a badly learned student. After then experiences many kinds of professions.
1962 (age 18)
Frequents jazz cafes in Shinjuku, where he meets people like Kuniyoshi Kaneko (painter) and Junko Koshino (fashion designer). Through this network of friends, he becomes acquainted with various other unique artists, poets, and literary people.
Is called "Simon" by his friends, because of his favor for the jazz vocalist Nina Simone (most favorite song is 'Ne me quitte pas').
His work Hope is selected to be shown at the Contemporary Doll Art Exhibition organized by The Asahi Shinbun.
Develops a strong interest in rockabilly, in addition to doll-making, and works as a apprentice singer.
1965 (age 21)
Learns about the dolls of Hans Bellmer in an article by Tatsuhiko Shibusawa, on the magazine Shinfujin, which makes a strong impact on him. Shibusawa is a famous translater of french litterature notedly known by the translations of Marquis de Sade and a introduser of french progressive cultural movement and Surrealism art, whom Simon does not know before reads the article. Thereafter he becomes an admirer of Surrealism and immerses himself in Shibusawa's litterary works.
Goes to see Tatsumi Hijikata's Butoh Performance for the first time.
1967 (age 23)
First visit to Shibusawa's house at Kamakura with Kuniyoshi Kaneko.
Through Kaneko, meets Juro Kara, the leader of the avant-garde theater group Situation Theater (Jokyo Gekijo), whose activity is often compared with Shuji Terayama.
By accident, debuts as an actor in the Situation Theater production "Long John Silver : Shinjuku Lovers-Crazed in the Night." Then his stage name is Simon Kobayashi. At the backstage of the performance encounters with Shibusawa who has admired the Situation Theater as a japanese most progressive play movement.
1968 (age 24)
Performs in the Situation Theater Red Tent production "Yui Shosetsu" at the garden place of a Hanazono-Jinja shrine in Shinjuku under the stage name Yotsuya Simon (Yotsuya is taken from a quarter of Tokyo near Shinjuku, where he lives in this period).
Appears in the movie "Diary of a Shinjuku Thief" directed by Nagisa Oshima with the actors of the Situation Theater, which takes the people and the streets of Shinjuku in a semi-documentary method.
1969 (age 25)
Performs in the Situation Theater production "Osen of the Red Underskirt : The Volume of the Flaming Long Sleeves" in which premier performance at Shinjuku's public park the leader Kara is arrested for the non-authorized performance at the public park..
Performs in the Situation Theater production "The City of Virgins." During this performance, members of the Situation Theater and the Cieling Gallery (Tenjo Sajiki) of Shuji Terayama scuffle on the street from a small quarrel. Kara, Terayama, Simon and other members are arrested.
1970 (age 26)
One of Kara's Theater Piece receives the Kishida prize of play.
Makes Rene Magritte's Man for the Textile Pavilion at Expo'70 in Osaka.
His dolls are introduced in the magazine Taiyo.
Performs in the Situation Theater production "Long John Silver: The Beggar of Love Edition."
1971 (age 27)
Perfoms in the Situation Theater productions "The Vampire Princess" and "Long John Silver after That."
Decides to stop performing as an actor with Situation Theater.
Eiko Hosoe takes Simon's photos, and makes a portofolio The Prelude of Yotsuya Simon.
Holds a joint consert with Maki Asakawa at the Shinjuku Art Theater.
1972 (age 28)
Exibition of portraits of Yotsuya Simon by ten photographers, namely, Toshihiro Asakura, Taiji Aritai, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Noriaki Kano, Hajime Sawatari, Kishin Shinoyama, Bishin Jumonji, Eiko Hosoe, Koichi Miyazaki, and Ichiro Morita (Kinokuniya Gallery at Shinjuku) displayed around Simon's doll German Boy.
1973 (age 29)
First solo exhibition, "Eve of Future and Past" (Aoki Gallery at Ginza). The title of the dolls and exhibiton owes to Shibusawa's recommendation.
1974 (age 30)
Exhibits by invitation at the 11th Tokyo Biennale (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art).
1975 (age 31)
Publication of Simon's Simon, a book of essays (Izara Shobo).
1978 (age 34)
Opens the Ecole de Simon school of dollmaking at Harajuku, Tokyo.
Participates in the exhibition "MA : Space-Time in Japan" (Musee des arts decoratifs in Paris, thereafter New York, Houston, Chicago, Stockholm and Helsinki).
Publication of Mechanical Gods, a book of essays (Izara Shobo).
1980 (age 36)
Solo exhibition "Mechanical Boy" (Aoki Gallery). The Mechanical Boy series are created by Simon's challengeship for a self-moving doll with the assistace of Hiroshi Araki.
1981 (age 37)
First group exhibition of the Ecole de Simon with his pupils (Kinokuniya Gallery).
1982 (age 38)
Solo exhibition "L'amour, l'amour" (Aoki Gallery).
Participates in the exhibition "Takiguchi Shuzo and Postwar Art" (The Museum of Modern Art, Toyama).
1983 (age 39)
Second exhibition of the Ecole de Simon with his pupils (Kinokuniya Gallery), which becomes the regular exhibition of the year from this time.
Solo exhibition "Anatomical Boy" (Aoki Gallery).
1984 (age 40)
French doll magazine Polichinelle introduses him as Japanese Pygmalion.
Performs in the play "A Tap Dancer's Story," produced by Situation Theater, after an absence of thirteen years.
1985 (age 41)
Exhibits his work in the "Adam of the Future" exhibition (Shibuya Seibu).
Appears in an important role Kumezo the actor on NHK television's history drama series "Haru on hatoh (The roller wave of Spring)".
Publication of the first book of his works, Yotsuya Simon : Pygmalionisme, under the supervision of Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (Bijutsu Shuppansha).
1986 (age 42)
Participates in the exhibition "Doll Art from the Early Showa Era and Other Periods" (The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Crafts Gallery).
Solo exhibition "Exibition of Dolls by Yotsuya Simon : 1973-1986" (Aoki Gallery).
Appears in "A Woman's Index Finger" on TBS television, one of a series of special television dramas based on the novels of Kuniko Mukoda, directed by Teruhiko Kuze. Thereafter appears regularly in this series.
1987 (age 43)
Stops working temporarily after the death of Tatsuhiko Shibusawa, who influenced him greatly.
1988 (age 44)
Starts to create Angel-like dolls dedicated to Shibusawa.
1989 (age 45)
Participates in the exhibition "Man : In Another Dimension of the Human Form" (The Miyagi Museum of Art).
Appears in the movie "Kitchen" directed by Yoshimitsu Morita based on the novel of Banana Yoshimoto.
1992 (age 48)
Participates in the exhibition "Human-Shaped Forms : Emotions of Today" (Kanagawa Prefectural Gallery).
Participates in the exhibition "Adam and Eve" (The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama).
1994 (age 50)
Participates in the exhibition "The Human Form of the Twentieth Century : Conversation with the Present" (The Tokushima Modern Art Museum).
Participates in the exhibition "When Body Becomes Art : Organs and Body as Substance" (Itabashi Art Museum).
Participates in the exhibition "The World of Doll Art" (Nanba Takashimaya , Ginza Matsuya, et al).
1995 (age 51)
Solo exhibition (Apt Gallery, Waseda).
1996 (age 52)
Participates in the exhibition "Human Images, Machanical Dolls, Robots" (O Art Museum).
1998 (age 54)
Participates in the exhibition "Suehiro Tanemura : 'Original Exhibition' in Life-Size"
(Gallery Shunju, Chukyo University {1999}).
Publication of the book Narcissisme : Yotsuya Simon (Sano Gallery, Shoshi Yamada).
2000 (age 56)
Retrospective exhibition "Simon : Pygmalionisme" is held at the Oita City Art Museum and thereafter at four other museums throughout Japan (Tokyo, Sendai, Tokushima and Sapporo).
Participates in the exhibition "Ma : Espace-Temps du Japon"(The University art museum).
2001 (age 57)
Private visit to Paris.
Exposes own collections at Hospital Gallery in Shikoku.
2002 (age 58)
NHK-Television presents Simon's activities and Hospital Gallery on the program "An Encounter with the Beauty" in which Simon visits Kofukuji-Temple at Nara.
CS-Television presents Simon's works and activities on the special program.
Publication of the memoirs A Doll creator.
2003 (age 59)
Participates in the exhibition "Contemporary Dolls : Formative art of Human sentiment" at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and thereafter at four other museums throughout Japan (Kyoto, Matsuyama, Shizuoka and Gifu).
Publication of the photo-book Hospital Gallery 717 days, 2001-2003 (Shinsensha).
2004 (age 60)
Participates in the exhibition "Poupee" at Halle Saint-Pierre, Paris (Janualy-July).
Participates in the exhibition "Dolls of Innocence" supervised by a animation director Mamoru Oshii at the Museum of contemporary Art, Tokyo (February-March).
Participates in the exhibition of Museum's own collection at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (December-January).
2005 (age 61)
Participates in the exhibition "Guys n Dolls" at Brighton Museum, England (April-June).
2006 (age 62)
Italian cultural anthropologist Massimo Canevacci uses the image of Simon's doll in his performance "Sandmann", which is based on the Hoffmann's novel, at Theater Tuca in Sao Paulo (September).
Publishes a book of essays "Yotsuya Simon Zenpen (The first half of Yotsuya Simon)" from Gakushu-kenkyu-sha (December).
2007 (age 63)
Writes essays on important books for "Asahi-shimbun" (January, February).
Participates in the exhibition of Articulated dolls at Doshisha University, Kyoto (from 15th March).
Participates in the exhibition of 20th memorium of death of Tatsuhiko Shibusawa ("Fantastic Museum of Shibusawa Tatsuhiko") at The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama (April, May).
Participate in the exhibition of 20th memorium of death of Tatsuhiko Shibusawa ("Miraculous room of Shibusawa Tatsuhiko") at The Gallery TOM (April, May).
Massimo Canevacci Ribeiro publishes "Una stupita fatticita (An astonished facticity)"(Costa & Nolan, Italy) and analyses Simon's work (June).
History Channel Japan presents Simon's works and activities on the program "Jidai no hibiki (Echoes of the century)" (July).
Participates in the exhibition "Roppongi crossing 2007, New visions in Contemporary Japanese Art " at Mori Art Museum (from October to January)
Appears in the NHK-TV's programm on Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (November).
2008 (age 64)
Participates in the exhibition of 80th anniversary of Tatsuhiko Shibusawa at Kanagawa Museum of Modern Litarature (April-June) and lectures on "Shibusawa and dolls".
Canevacci and Ribeiro performs "Sandmann" at Super-deluxe, Tokyo with the perticipacition of Simon and his doll (May).
Solo exhibition of dolls and dessins (Gallery Mestalla, Tokyo, May).

This English chronology was originally edited by Yumiko Yamazaki for the catalogue of the exhibition "Simon : Pygmalionisme", corrected and added some articles by Takio Sugawara (Kisaragi), the Web Master.


Back to <Pygmalionisme> site guide

Short introduction for Simon's lecture on "Shibusawa and dolls"

 Tokyo and Simon

Mechanical Boy 2

Questinnaire in French and Japanese