For some travelers, what comes to mind first when they think of Japan is tales of samurai and shoguns, centuries-old temples, and the tea ceremony and kabuki. For others, however, what makes the country most exciting is its contemporary art, fashion, and architecture. The National Art Center should be at the top of the list for anyone with an affinity for the latter. Designed by one of Japan‘s most interesting contemporary architects, Kisho Kurokawa, it is among the country’s largest exhibition spaces. There’s no permanent collection, but temporary exhibitions cover a variety of mediums and topics—photography, manga and anime, architecture, and fashion, among others. The exhibitions aren’t always limited to works by Japanese creators, with international museums lending pieces as well. If you are looking for gifts to take back home, the Souvenir from Tokyo shop in the basement has a delightful selection of Japanese products, both whimsical and elegant.
Tokyo Downtown Design
The glass waves on the exterior of The National Art Center of Tokyo are a hint of the towering, clean glass and concrete interior architecture. The museum has a welcoming interior filled with natural light, lounge chairs, and cafes. The building itself is a sleek design exhibit. While at the art center, we saw the California Design 1930-1965 “Living in a Modern Way” exhibit, which had lots of Eames furniture, vintage wool swimsuits, and modern architecture. New exhibits rotate through regularly, and it’s a great place to enjoy art and relax inside a beautiful work of art. Take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya line to Roppongi Station. It’s about a 5-minute walk. Directions to The National Art Center: http://www.nact.jp/english/access.html