Here is who we are

Nearing 50 years in business and often referred to as the “oldest gaijin-operated art gallery” in Japan makes it challenging to be new, fresh, and different. But that doesn’t mean that we are afraid of such a title. Having four dozen artists on our books, we are often referred to as the place to get Japanese prints in all those guide books that tell you what to do in Tokyo.

While maintaining a long and deep contact with some 50 print artists, some of whom feel that our gallery is like their home, we have been able to establish ourselves as the place to go when you want to find hard to find pieces. It is true that we have also reached out to such far-flung places as Kazakhstan, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and even as far away as Amsterdam to introduce the artists whose works we have been handling for almost 50 years.

Fifty years of history

Our connection with so many Japanese artists, some of whom we have known since they were virtually unknown, makes our gallery a place that art collectors in Tokyo, and a good number of people who get most of their information about “what to do in Japan” from those guide books always provides a mix of clients from all over the world. We are the place to come when you want to know everything about prints. Our bilingual staff of four, Eiji, Daisuke, Kiyo and Shin are all well-known to so many of the artists in Japan that they call us first before they release new pieces. Thus we are able to offer their pieces as soon as they make them.

One more thing is that since we never give anything back to the artists, once the works are in our hands, we are the perfect place to come and try to find that print that you saw and wanted to buy and missed. It mostly is the case that we’ll have a copy around in our carefully maintained archives.

The second generation

Daughter Allison "born in this business” so to speak, has picked up the family name and made it well-known all around the United States. She now operates a “by appointment business” in New York. Since she has known all the artists since she was a little girl, the pieces that she offers for sale come with stories that no one else was privy to. In our family there is a joke that where ever there are 8 people discussing Japanese prints in the USA, Allison probably has a booth there.
My retirement time has come and gone but, fortunately I cannot find anything that I would rather do, so I am mostly here showing the guys what to offer, what to buy, and how to recognize who will like what. There is no point to force Toko Shinoda’s work on those who want a nice view of Mt. Fuji, and if someone can almost describe a piece he once liked, we will certainly remember what is was. And of course we are able to remember the names and numbers of all the repeat clients, too.

How we operate

The Tolman Collection only buys art from the people who make it; much of it is exclusive editions of which we buy all the copies,and you cannot get anyplace else. So, there is no chance here that what you buy is real or not. Since we buy prints only from the people who make them, you don’t need a certificate of origin for anything that you buy here. Since our artists like to spend a lot of time around our gallery, if you are lucky that kind man in the other room may be the man who made the very piece that you are thinking about. He will be happy to ensure your pleasure by telling you just what he was thinking when he made it. Artists like to come here, almost as much as the buying public.

Our team - Norman Tolman, Allison Tolman, Eiji Nagao
Daisuke Maruoka, Kiyoyuki Fukuda, Shin Mochizuki

We are fully equipped and ready to answer each and every question you may have about what you find in our gallery. And if you look around carefully you may find that some of the art hanging here is an original painting which we have started showing.

- Norman H. Tolman, Owner and Founder of the Tolman Collection, Tokyo