Tokyo is the center of Japan's contemporary art life. Art lovers are drawn to the many fine museums and art galleries, and the superb exhibits from around the world that are constantly on display. Several museums have fine collections of Japanese and Western arts, and innumerable small galleries present showings of Japanese and foreign artists. The major department stores often sponsor art exhibitions. The Tokyo Museum of Modern Art each year has several large foreign exhibitions of international significance.

Ueno, in Taito Ward, is the traditional spot for art enthusiasts. Ueno Park is the home of a number of major museums such as the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art and the Tokyo Metropolitan Fine Art Gallery (with mostly temporary exhibits of contemporary Japanese art).

Museum Pass: The Tokyo Museum-Grutto pass costs ¥2200, is valid for two months and offers free or discounted admission to 56 facilities, including the Tokyo National Museum, the Mori Art Museum, Ueno Zoological Gardens, and other museums, art galleries, aquariums zoos and facilities. Website: Museum site

Museums in Roppongi: Roppongi is beginning to challenge Ueno Park as Tokyo’s museum hub. The New Suntory Museum of Art, with its fine collection of arts, and the 21_21 Design Site, a research museum inspired by Issey Miyake, opened in Roppongi in 2007 as part of the $3 billion Tokyo Midtown Project. The Mori art museum occupies the top six floors of Roppongi Hills and is regarded a center Tokyo contemporary art. The Okura Shukokan Museum, with a historical collection, and an annex for the Sen-oku Hakuko Kan museum are also in Roppongi Hills. Websites: Japan Guide

Yokohama Museum of Art (Sakuragicho Station, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line and the Negishi Line and the Yokohama Subway) is housed in a Kenzo Tange-designed building that opened in 1989 in one of the pavilions built for the Yokohama Expo that had taken place earlier that year. The Tange structure stands immense, and the Grand Gallery entrance hall is particularly cavernous and overwhelming in scale. The museum is home to a large collection of Japanese and Western artworks from the 19th century up to present day. It also has a strong photography collection which upholds the city’s reputation as one the birthplaces of photography in Japan. Location: 3-4-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 220-0012, +81-45-221-0300

Tokyo National Museum

at the Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park, Ueno Station) is the oldest and largest museum in Japan and has one of the world's biggest collections of Japanese and Asian art, . The collection is so big that only a portion of the 117,000 items can be shown at one time. Particularly impressive are the displays of painted screens, calligraphy, swords and lacquerware. On the vast ground that surround the multiple-building museum are lawns and serene gardens. Many of the visitors to the museum come to see the first rate exhibitions rather than the permanent collection

The Gallery of Eastern Antiquities contains art and archeological objects from all over Asia. Among the treasures here are an A.D. 2nd century Buddha from Gandhara, Pakistan; a mummy in a coffin from ancient Egypt, a 13th century celadon glazed tea bowl and an 11th century paintings of red and white hibiscus flowers by the Chinese artist Li Di.

Buddhist sculptures and stone reliefs dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries feature works from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, the Korean Peninsula and Japan. Two of the sculptures regarded as masterpieces are the Standing Bodhisattva (2nd-3rd century AD, Gandhara, Pakistan) and Standing Buddha (2nd-3rd century AD, Peshawar, Pakistan) — the former being a model for the pre-enlightenment prince Siddhartha and the latter for the post-enlightenment Buddha. There are also Chinese figurines and Gandharan reliefs depicting Siddhartha's birth (from below his mother Maya's arm) and others showing scenes from his life. Among the the Japanese sculptures listed as Important Cultural Properties are the Standing Buddha at Birth (Kamakura Period, 13th century) and the Buddha's Nirvana (Kamakura Period, 13th century) depicting the reclining Buddha entering into Nirvana at his passing.

at the Tokyo National Museum
The Hyokeikan houses Japanese archeological finds and items used by the Ainu. Here you can see 4000-year-old clay figures, examples of the world oldest pottery, an A.D. 4th century bronze mirror with dragons and bell-shaped Chinese bronzes dating to the 14th century B.C. In another area Japan’s most dog, Hachiko, stuffed and displayed, and a room of portraits of famous Japanese leaders and entertainment figures.

Among the treasures in the Japanese art section are detailed 13th century standing Basatsu bronzes; Katawaguruma cosmetics boxes made with maki-e lacquer with gold, mother of pearl inlay; 11th century calligraphy of the Lotus sutra; Noh costumes, valuable kimonos, gold painting by famous artists and a ukiyo-e collection with works by Utamaro and Hiroshige. As of March 2008, this section contained 87 items deemed National Treasures and 616 registered as Important Cultural properties.

The museum was renovated between July and September 2004. The displays were completely reorganized so that they made more sense. Now, not only is the art arranged chronologically it also grouped into themes within a particular period. The second floor of the museum is now devoted to the history of Japanese art with an aims of helping visitors understand and appreciate the art not just observe it, with special attention given to the tea ceremony, ukiyoe and customs of the Edo period. On the first floor objects are groups by art form, with area for paintings, lacquerware and gold and bronze Buddha statues. There are also displays of Ainu cultural and everyday items and photographs of the Okinawa-based Ryukyu Kingdom.

The renovated museum has more English signs and captions and computers where you looks stuff up and hands on exhibits where you can your hand at different art forms. Information areas are conveniently located and floor plan brochures are available in several languages. The museum also host a wide range of lectures and discussion and concerts and other events. Hours Open: 9:30 a.m.-5:00pm; open until 9:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Closed: Monday and the year end through New Year’s holiday. Getting There: 10-minute walk from JR or subway Ueno Station Website: Tokyo National Museum site

Gallery of Horyuji (part of the Tokyo National Museum) is dedicated to preservation of 319 delicate, 1,200-year-old works of art — mostly bronze Buddha and bodhisattva statues, nimbuses, reliefs, scrolls and masks — taken from Nara's Horyuji temple after it was damaged by fire in 1949. In the past the works were only displayed on Thursday unless the humidity level was too high and then they weren't shown at all. In 1999, a new facility was opened that allows the works to be shown every day.

The dramatic approach to The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures foreshadows the equally dramatic use of space and lighting that awaits inside the spacious foyer, halls, and galleries that give an otherworldly experience to visitors. Designed by Yoshio Taniguchi and opened in 1999, the museum houses over 300 valuable pieces dating from the 7th to the 8th century that were gifted from the Horyuji Temple in Nara to the imperial family in 1878, and then transferred to the museum after World War II. Boasting state-of-the-art conservation technology, the museum also has a digital archive featuring the entire collection. Contact: 13-9 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-8712 +81-3-5777-8600 Tokyo

Tokyo National Museum map

National Museum of Western Art

National Museum of Western Art (Ueno Park) was designed by the famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier and holds an impressive collection of old and new Western art. Situated at the main entrance of Ueno Park, the National Museum of Western Art is a symbol of French-Japanese cultural relations. The museum exhibits works from the Matsukata Collection as well as works created from the Renaissance through the early 20th century.

The National Museum of Western Art (NMWA) contains works by Rodin, Renoir and Monet in a cement building designed by Le Corbusier. The museum was established to house paintings and other art seized by France under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and were returned to Japan on the condition a museum was built to house them. The main buildings was completed in 1959 and is the only work by Le Corbusier in Japan. Location: 7-7 Ueno-koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007 +81-3-5777-8600 Hours Open: 9:30 a.m.-5:30pm/-8:00pm (Friday) Closed: Monday, December 28-January 1 and during changing exhibition. Getting There: on-minute walk from JR or subway Ueno Station.

In 2016, 17 works by Le Corbusier, including the National Museum of Western Art main building were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site called " The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement." According to UNESCO: “Chosen from the work of Le Corbusier, the 17 sites comprising this transnational serial property are spread over seven countries and are a testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past. They were built over a period of a half-century, in the course of what Le Corbusier described as “patient research”. The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh (India), the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Japan), the House of Dr Curutchet in La Plata (Argentina) and the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (France) reflect the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society. These masterpieces of creative genius also attest to the internationalization of architectural practice across the planet. [Source: UNESCO]

”Chosen from the work of architect Le Corbusier that survives in eleven countries on four continents, the sites in seven countries on three continents, implemented over a period of half a century, for the first time in the history of architecture attest to the internationalization of architectural practice across the entire planet.

”The seventeen sites together represent an outstanding response to some of the fundamental issues of architecture and society in the 20th century. All were innovative in the way they reflect new concepts, all had a significant influence over wide geographical areas, and together they disseminated ideas of the Modern Movement throughout the world. Despite its diversity, the Modern Movement was a major and essential socio-cultural and historical entity of the 20th century, which has to a large degree remained the basis of the architectural culture of the 21st century. From the 1910s to the 1960s, the Modern Movement, in meeting the challenges of contemporary society, aimed to instigate a unique forum of ideas at a world level, invent a new architectural language, modernize architectural techniques and meet the social and human needs of modern man. The series provides an outstanding response to all these challenges.

”Some of the component sites immediately assumed an iconic status and had world-wide influence. These include the Villa Savoye, as an icon for the Modern Movement; Unité d’habitation in Marseille as a major prototype of a new housing model based on a balance between the individual and the collective....Other sites acted as catalysts for spreading ideas around their own regions, such as Maison Guiette, that spurred the development of the Modern Movement in Belgium and the Netherlands; the Maison du Docteur Curutchet that exerted a fundamental influence in South America; the Musée National des Beaux-Arts de l’Occident as the prototype of the globally transposable Museum of Unlimited Growth which cemented ideas of the Modern Movement in Japan; and the Capitol Complex that had a considerable influence across the Indian subcontinent, where it symbolized India’s accession to modernity.”

National Art Center Tokyo

National Art Center Tokyo (Roppongi Hills) has Japan's largest exhibition space and serves as a venue for various art exhibitions. Opened in January 2007 and designed by the architect Kisho Kurokawa, it is a $300 million architectural marvel with lots of gallery space and a stunning glass facade, said to resemble a tsunami wave, augmented by beautifully-landscaped entrance. The only thing its lacks thus far are exhibits of art worthy to fill it.

The art center (known as NACT for short) contains 14,000 square meters of exhibition space: 10 exhibitor rooms, each 1,000 square meters in size, and two 2,000-square-meter special exhibition galleries. The rooms contain no pillars, giving the staff flexibility in how they want to set them up for displays. The museum will not have a permanent collection. Instead it will host high-profile temporary exhibitions and be a focal point for the art scene in Tokyo, Japan and the world. The National Art Center doesn’t have its own permanent collection, but is capable of organizing a wide variety of art exhibitions, in addition to artist associations and competition exhibitions unique to Japan. The building is the last museum designed by the architect, Kisho Kurokawa.

On his design Kurokawa told the Asahi Shimbun, “Architecture that creates ambiguity and a little bit of confusion makes people think, or makes them go into a maze. In the design for the NACT, I use several ambiguities. The first one is the ambiguity of interior and exterior. The second way is high-tech and primitive.” Among the center’s greatest delights are a bamboo garden located in an unexpected place and interior iron wood floor that continues outside the building. Among its high-tech features are cleaning robots and lights that brighten and dim when you walk by them. Two concrete tornados welcome visitors at the main door. Location: 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8558 +81-3-5777-8600 Hours Open: 10:00 a.m.-6:00pm Closed: Tue. and the year end through New Year’s holiday. Getting There: 1-minute walk from Nogisaka Station or 5-minute walk from Roppongi Station Websites: National Art Center Tokyo site

Private Art Museums in Tokyo

Nezu Museum (Minami Aoyama, Omotesando Station) features a superb collection of well-known Japanese art and Pre-modern Asian art in a modern Japanese context. Founded in 1941 to conserve and exhibit the collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art that businessman Nezu Kaichiro (1860-1940) had accumulated, it has the 7,400 items are paintings, ceramics, and sculptures. Architect Kengo Kuma designed and supervised the re-building of the museum in 2009, which carries his signature style of vertical lines. The adjacent Japanese garden is one of the most exquisite in Tokyo.

Also called the Nezu Institute of Fine Art, the Nezu Museum is a two- gallery museum set around a traditional garden, with a charming and eclectic collection that dates from 2000 B.C. to the 1920s and includes hanging scrolls, tea ceremony utensils, screens, bronzes, lacquerware, ceramics, kimonos, Chinese bronzes, lacquered pillboxes, Japanese swords, and ink drawings by Kano Maonobu. Location: 6-5-1 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062 +81-3-3400-2536; Hours Open: 10:00 a.m.-5:00pm Closed: Monday, the year end through New Year’s holiday and during changing exhibition. Getting There: 10-minutewalk from Omotesando Station. Websites: Nezu Museum site

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum (near Tokyo Station) is a new museum that opened in 2010 in a reconstruction of buildings built in 1994 and designed in the Queen Anne style of architecture by a British architect. The museum has a nice courtyard garden and highlights works by European artists, particularly Impressionists. Located in the center of a bustling business district, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo offers an escape from the rush of city life. The building opened in 2010 within Marunouchi Brick Square, surrounded by offices, shops, and restaurants. The complex is a reconstruction of Mitsubishi’s previous home, first built in 1894 by Josiah Conder and in use until 1964. Programming at the museum reflects the period of modernization undertaken by Japan during the 19th century, and holds exhibitions themed around the era. The museum’s permanent collection is home to works by Redon, ToulouseLautrec, and many other turn of the century Western artists. Location: 2-6-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0005 +81-3-5777-8600 Tokyo

Mitsui Memorial Museum (seventh floor of Mitsui Main Building near Mitsukoshimae Station on the Ginza Line) features tea ceremony tools. Drawings, swords, lacquerware, noh masks and collection of 130,000 stamps collected over the centuries by the Mitsui family. The comfortable size of the Mitsui museum's galleries and the not-excessive number of works on display also help to make this exhibition a very enjoyable experience. the Mitsui Memorial Museum, in the Mitsui Honkan building in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, next to Mitsukoshi department store. Closed Mondays, except Nov. 22. Admission is 1,200 yen for adults, with student discounts available. For more information, call (03) 5777-8600. Website:;

Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art (Harajuku area) is small in size but has a large number of fine ukiyoe woodblock prints. The displays are rotated frequently. Hours Open: 10:30 a.m.-5:30pm Closed: Monday, the year end through New Year's holiday and during changing exhibition. Getting There: 5-minute walk from subway Meiji-Jingumae Station or JR Harajuku Station.

Mitsuo Aida Museum (Yurakucho Station) displays artworks of Mitsuo Aida who is a brush and ink calligrapher and poet. Hours Open: 10:00 a.m.-5:30pm Closed: Monday Getting There: 3-minute walk from JR or Subway Yurakucho Station.

Sumida Hokusai Museum

Sumida Hokusai Museum (Sumida Ward, Ryogoku Station) showcases the art of Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), the world-renowned ukiyo-e artist and creator of some of the most iconic pieces of Japanese art. Opened in 2016 in Sumida, the neighbourhood where the artist lived , the museum offers an in-depth view of the artist’s life, features numerous examples of his work and has a touch-panel information display and reproduction of Hokusai’s studio. Nearby Ryogoku Station contains a complex called Ryogoku Edo NOREN, housing 12 restaurants in a space inspired by Edo-style townhouses, and a sumo ring staging events themed around Edo tradition and culture. [Source:]

Hiraku Kubo wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “The Sumida Hokusai Museum features Hokusai in its permanent and feature exhibitions, with works from the collections of Peter Morse, Muneshige Narasaki and Sumida ward itself. Hokusai was born in Sumida around 1760. Hokusai's most famous work, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" of the series "36 Views of Mount Fuji," is displayed here, along with other well-known pieces including "A Mild Breeze on a Fine Day." There's even a life-sized model of Hokusai's studio, complete with robots depicting Hokusai and his daughter Oei at work.[Source: Hiraku Kubo, Yomiuri Shimbun, November 11, 2016]

”Morse, an art historian and writer who died in 1993, was a prominent collector of Hokuksai's work. His son, Daniel, attended the opening ceremony and called the museum "a beautiful home for my father's collection." "My father would be very, very happy, he would be very proud, and very honoured," he said. "I think Hokusai is the greatest artist who ever lived." Specially featured works include the 7-meter-long (23-foot-long) "Sumidagawa Ryogan Keshiki Zukan" or "Landscape Scroll of Scenery at Both Banks of the Sumida River," which was missing for 100 years after being taken abroad.

”The museum's home is a modern five-floor building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima, that suggests blocks leaning against each other, with surfaces that softly reflect the surrounding neighbourhood. The building also houses a library specializing in Hokusai's work, as well as a lecture room and museum shop. Location: The museum is located near Edo Tokyo Museum, Ryogoku National Sumo Arena and the Sumida River. 2-7-2 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku, Tel: 03-5777-8600 (NTT Hello Dial); Admission: 400 yen for adults. Hours Open: 9:30-5:30pm (Last entry 5:00pm); closed on regular holidays, Mondays (the following weekday when Monday falls on a holiday) and New Year’s holidays (December 26, 2016–January 1, 2017). Getting There: 5-minute walk from Toei Oedo Line Ryogoku Station Exit A3; 9-minute walk from JR Ryogoku Station East Exit. Website:

Crafts Museums in Tokyo

Japan Folk Crafts Museum (Komaba-Todaimae Station on Keio Inokashira Line) features a collection of furniture, textiles and ceramics by unknown craftsmen in the former home of a folk art enthusiast, Yanagi Soetsu. Hours Open: 10:00 a.m.-5:00pm Closed: Monday, the year end through New Year’s holiday and during changing exhibition. Getting There: 7-minute walk from Komaba-Todaimae Station on Keio Inokashira Line.

Japanese Sword Museum (4-25-10 Yoyogi Shibuya-ku) has a collection of 300 swords and sword fittings. Three of them are National Treasures. Hours Open: 10:00 a.m.-4:30pm Closed: Monday and the year end through New Year’s holiday. Getting There: 7-minute walk from JR or Subway Ryogoku Station.

Idemitsu Museum of Art (Hibiya area) boasts a fine collection of calligraphy, woodblock prints, ceramics. tea bowls and works by 18th and 19th century painters. Hours Open: 10:00 a.m.-5:00pm/-7:00pm (Friday) Closed: Monday, the year end through New Year’s holiday and during changing exhibition. Getting There: Near subway Hibiya Station or 5-minute walk from JR Yurakucho Station.

Ainu Cultural Center in Chuo Ward in Tokyo houses a museum of Ainu crafts and a library and offers classes in Ainu music, dance crafts and language. Teien Museum (Shirokanedai Station in the Mira and Mamboku subway lines) is housed in an Art Deco Building that hosts regular exhibitions of Art Deco Pieces, including chandeliers and glass panel doors by Lalique and a a fountain by Henri Rapin. Gotah Museum is located on a former estate with charming teahouses in a garden settings. It has a priceless collection of Chinese and Japanese art. Mingei Museum has a famous collection of folk art; Hatekeyama Collection is a museum with a delightful garden and superb collection of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, paintings, tea ceremony utensils, porcelain objects and bronzes.

Modern Art Museums in Tokyo

National Museum of Modern Art (Imperial Palace area) specializes in Japanese modern art. It houses Japanese art since the late 19th century Meiji period on the three upper floors. Visiting collections and exhibitions are on the ground floor. The National Museum of Modern Art (the Momat) is Japan’s first national art museum. It boasts one of Japan’s largest art collections, with more than 13,000 works.The museum’s “A Room With a View” relaxation space offers a must-see view of the Imperial Palace grounds, and the Craft Gallery is housed in the former Imperial Guard headquarters, an Important Cultural Property. Location: 3-1 Kitanomaru-koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8322 +81-3-5777-8600 Tokyo. Hours Open: 10:00 a.m. -5:00pm/-8:00pm (Friday and Saturday) Closed: Monday, December 28-January 1 and during changing exhibition. Getting There: 3-minute walk from subway Takebashi Station

Hara Museum of Contemporary Art boasts 600 works, including paintings by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and internationally-recognized contemporary Japanese artist like Shigeko Kubota, Yayoi Kusama, Yukinori Yanagi and Toshikatsi Endo. Website: Hara Museum site

Borderless (Odaiba Palette Town, 1-3-8 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo) is a cuttingedge museum sure to shatter your preconceptions about art. Step inside this vast and complex 10,000 square-meter space, and you’ll discover works of light and sound melding and feeding off of each other to create a seamless symphony of creative expression. With the artwork constantly changing and ever evolving, you’ll feel as if you’re a part of the exhibit,

Modern Art Museums in Roppongi

Roppongi is beginning to challenge Ueno Park as Tokyo’s museum hub especialy when it comes to modern and contemporary art. The New Suntory Museum of Art, with its fine collection of arts, and the 21_21 Design Site, a research museum inspired by Issey Miyake, opened in Roppongi in 2007 as part of the $3 billion Tokyo Midtown Project. The Mori art museum occupies the top six floors of Roppongi Hills and is regarded a center Tokyo contemporary art. The Okura Shukokan Museum, with a historical collection, and an annex for the Sen-oku Hakuko Kan museum are also in Roppongi Hills. Websites: Japan Guide

Mori Art Museum (the top six floors of Roppongi Hills, Roppongi subway Station) is regarded as a center Tokyo contemporary art. Founded by real estate developer Minoru Mori in 2003, the museum has come to be an important and indispensable presence in the art scene today. Known for organizing solo and group exhibitions of incomparable quality and scale, the museum also actively works with young emerging artists, stages discourses on historical movements, and publishes handsome catalogs. In April 2010, a collection of some the greatest masterpieces of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, including works by El Greco and Van Gogh, began a tour of Japan, starting at the Mori Arts Center Gallery. Location: Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 53F, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-6150 +81-3-5777-8600

21_21 Design Sight (Tokyo Midtown) is Tokyo’s architecture and design Mecca. The establishment of this space was realized by the Japanese design world’s dream team: initiated by Issey Miyake, architecture by Tadao Ando, and currently co-directed by Miyake, Taku Satoh, and Naoto Fukasawa. 21_21 design sight opened in 2007 on the grounds of Tokyo Midtown with the goal of making a space to hold programs based on everyday things. The three directors take turns organizing and curating exhibitions of their specialties, including architecture, craft, product design, and more. Location: 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 +81-3-3475-2121

Art Scene in Roppongi

Mutsumi Morita wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “The Roppongi entertainment district in Minato Ward, Tokyo, is transforming itself into an art hub.” The October 2016 “opening of complex665, a commercial building that houses three influential galleries, shows the area is strengthening its offerings for art lovers. The three-story complex is home to the Tomio Koyama Gallery, Taka Ishii Gallery and ShugoArts. The three galleries handle works by prominent contemporary artists such as Mika Ninagawa, Yoko Ono, Daido Moriyama, Nobuyoshi Araki, Ilya Kabakov and Yasumasa Morimura. [Source: Mutsumi Morita, Yomiuri Shimbun, January 11, 2017]

“Across the street, the Piramide Building also houses noteworthy galleries including Ota Fine Arts, Wako Works of Art and Zen Foto Gallery. Galerie Perrotin, with which Takashi Murakami is associated, is scheduled to move into Piramide this year. The French gallery already has bases in Paris, New York, Hong Kong and Seoul. The concentration of galleries in the district is expected to make it a leading venue for contemporary art.

“Complex665 came about after the developer, Mori Building Co., invited well-known galleries to move into the building with the offer of letting the galleries dictate what they wanted in the facility. Tomio Koyama, who moved his gallery from the Kitasando district in Shibuya Ward of Tokyo, pointed to Roppongi’s convenient location as a reason for expecting a larger number of visitors. “We hope to boost the image of Roppongi as an art district with us relocating here,” Koyama said. “Roppongi has added a new dimension as an attractive area to visit during the daytime, rather than just a nightlife entertainment district,” said Fumio Nanjo, director of Mori Art Museum in Roppongi.

”It was Mori Art Museum — founded in 2003 on the 53rd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, part of a Mori Building redevelopment project — that became the leading force for giving this district the image of an art hub. From 2007, The National Art Center, Tokyo, the Suntory Museum of Art and 21_21 Design Sight followed suit. The openings made Roppongi the place to see not only contemporary art, but also famed works of Western art and Japanese traditional art and design, broadening the variety of art on offer.

”The art institutions and local shopping districts have jointly held the “Roppongi Art Night” event almost every year since 2009, bringing in about 700,000 visitors on each occasion. Perhaps due to the art offerings, the number of foreign visitors more than doubled from 2006 to 2008. A Japan National Tourism Organization survey on areas that foreign tourists visited in Japan showed 15.9 percent included Roppongi in their visits in 2008, up from 7.9 percent in fiscal 2006. One of the main beneficiaries has been the Suntory Museum of Art, which moved to Roppongi from the Akasaka-Mitsuke area of the same ward. In the last 10 years through last October, approximately 4.3 million people have visited, almost tripling the comparable figure before its relocation.”

Art Galleries in Tokyo

Art Galleries are scattered throughout the city. “Art Space Tokyo” edited by Ashley Rawlings and Craig Mod (Chin Music Press) is reasonably comprehensive guide to art galleries and museums in Tokyo along with interviews with gallery owners and essays by critics

The art scenes in Japan is scattered, financed mainly by the rich and ignored by the government. Happening places include the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, the alternative Project Space Kandada, design-oriented 21_21 Design Sight and the locally minded Nakaochiai Gallery,

An area known as the Art Zone between Ueno Station and Nish-Nippori Station is arguably the most important art enclave in Japan. It embraces Ueno Park's museums and the Tokyo University of one Arts and Music as well as prestigious galleries, fashionable restaurant and cafes. Many of the most interesting spots are included on the Arts Links tour. (, Japanes-language site). Websites: Tokyo Art Beat ; Art Space Tokyo

Taka Ishii Gallery (Roppongi) is a leading contemporary gallery specializes in photography and has a branch in New York. Taka Ishii lists dozens of Japanese as well as foreign artists – among them Daido Moriyama, Martin Kippenberger, and controversial photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. Publications and editions add to the variety of the gallery program. Location: 3F, 6-5-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032 +81-3-6434-7010.

Tokyo Cultuart by Beams (4th floor of the Beams Japan flagship store in Shinjuku) showcases an ever changing selection of art, fashion, and design products from famous and underground Japanese artists and designers. Their collection includes everything from skate decks to vinyl figures, prints, books, graphic t-shirts, and even refurbished Japanese boomboxes from the 70s and 80s. It’s a great place to find contemporary art for everyday life, and discover something to take home that you won’t find anywhere else. Location: BEAMS JAPAN B1F-5F, 3-32-6, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022 +81-3-5368-7300

Image Sources: 1) Edo-Tokyo Museum 2) 3) 4) Tokyo National Museum 5) 16) Ray Kinnane 6) 7) Ghibli Museum 8) Tepco Museum 9) National Science Museum 10 Sumo Museum 11) 12) 13) 14) 15) Twin isles

Text Sources: JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization),, Japan News, Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, UNESCO, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020

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