National Art Center, Tokyo
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.