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The Best Art Galleries in Tokyo

Japan is home to a lot of unique art exhibits, the country is also having a rich history regarding its traditional art. They have always been the creative forefront of fashion, design and culture and contemporary art. You can find a large number of these galleries in Tokyo itself located all around the city. Whether you want to look at Renaissance masterpieces, Ukiyoe or contemporary, the art venues we have here are definitely worth your visit when coming to Tokyo.

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National Museum of Modern Art

This museum houses the finest pieces of modern art that the world has to offer, the galleries on the 4th or 6th floor weave a story of Japan’s history through the perspective of the country’s most prolific artists. Among the exhibitions are paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and video installation with a number greater than 13,000. The museum features exhibits from international countries, most of the permanent works are from Japanese artists originating from the Meiji period and beyond. The museum kindly provides English signs for international visitors to learn about the history regarding the pieces and artists. The Crafts Gallery highlights 3800 from the MOMAT collection of Japanese textiles, ceramics, bamboo, lacquerware and other design ware.

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National museum is Japan’s oldest museum so there is a lot of historical prestige to this place and not only that the museum is located in Ueno Park, one of Tokyo’s oldest public parks and home to ancient temples, shrines and ponds and beautiful cherry blossom trees. Although not entirely an art museum per se, the site contains the largest collection of Japanese art in the world. Inside the museum is where you’ll find priceless artefacts from the likes of samurai swords, ceramics, woodblock prints, buddha sculptures and wondrous kimonos.

National Art Centre Tokyo

The National Art Centre in Tokyo houses one of the country’s largest contemporary art collections, the museum engages with audiences with its 150,700 square feet of rotating exhibitions and 12 galleries. There is always something new to see here as the rotating exhibitions change every 2 weeks from Japanese Watercolour paintings, mixed media work and Japanese calligraphy. Although most of the galleries are free, the larger and special exhibitions require a reasonable fee. You will be able to find exhibitions that will suit your taste as there are plenty of exhibitions to check out.

Nezu Art Museum

Although Nezu Art Museum has a modern architectural design which is typical of newer museums of modern art, you can find that the museum houses a fine collection of East Asian and Japanese Art within, It is noted that the museum was once the residence of Nezu Kaichiro, the president of Tobu Railway and most of the 7400 collection pieces comes privately from him. Though famous in its own right, this place seems to be less packed compared to the other museums on our list, so this is a perfect location for those who want a stress free and relaxing time as they wander around to appreciate the sculpture, ceramics, calligraphy and private gardens that are for display.

Mori Art Museum

The Mori Art Museum is probably the most extravagant of the trio of galleries in the Roppongi Art Triangle. You can find it located on floor 52 and 53 of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. It costs $14 to enter the exhibition hall and you get to see fantastic works from famous contemporary artists such as Dinh Q. Le and Ai Weiwei. You will also get a beautiful view here from one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo.

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Here you can find the scaled reconstructions of Tokyo’s historic neighbourhoods. The museum details cultural and political aspects of Japan throughout history but also explores what ordinary life was like in Japan. Over here is where you learn about the transformation of arts in Japan throughout the years. Like Japanese Ukiyo-e Art and Kabuki Theatre performance Art. The Edo-Tokyo museum transports visitors back to feudal Japan and takes them on a journey to see the modern metropolis it is today.

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Tokyo Photographic Art Museum

Located in the Yebisu Garden Palace complex, the photographic museum host 3 exhibitions celebrating Japanese and international photography in its galleries. The curators in this gallery go out of the way to ensure that the presentation matches with the theme of the exhibition. The place is less crowded than the other museums so you can enjoy your time here without feeling rushed.

SCAI The Bathhouse

What is interesting about this gallery is that it is housed within a 200-year-old bathhouse. The gallery hosts contemporary art from post-war to present day, showcasing big artists from Japan like Lee Ufan and Tadanori Yokoo as well as international artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Julian Opie and Janish Kapoor. The gallery has acted as a great jumping board to fame for artists like Nobuko Tushiya and Toru Kamiya. SCAI is a well-known establishment in the Japanese art world but its approach to art caters to all artists whether it’d be famous artists from international circles or helping out local talents by hosting their artwork. It’s great that the gallery is taking an active approach to bringing new art into the world.

Yayoi Kusama Museum

Yayoi Kusama is one of Japan’s most prolific artists, her work has wowed audiences since the 1960s but she has since then been a cultural icon and phenomenon. You should book it in advance to get a spot as they only accommodate 200 visitors per day. Thereby increasing the popularity of the place. Check out her most famous exhibit, the “Infinity Room” and although the museum is small every part of the building is ensured to be photogenic. There is a very small library located on the 5th floor along with a reading area.

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