Tokyo’s Art Scene

Tokyo has art exhibitions and galleries for every style, from ancient Japanese calligraphy to post-modern design. Here are the best galleries, museums, and shops to see Tokyo art.

6-chōme-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato City, Tōkyō-to 107-0062, Japan
Just down the street from fashionable Omotesando is the Nezu Museum, with an exquisite Japanese garden. Architect Kengo Kuma’s touches include a warm welcome with a bamboo wall at the entrance and rooms with picturesque views of the garden. The museum’s renowned permanent collection comprises a vast selection of Japanese and Asian pieces, including lacquerware, calligraphy, sculptures, and paintings. The Nezu Café has three walls of windows to enjoy the garden over a light meal, coffee and cake, or matcha and traditional wagashi sweets.
Japan, 〒107-6290 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka, 9丁目7−6 東京ミッドタウン・ガーデン内
21_21 Design Sight is a museum designed by one of Japan‘s most famous contemporary architects, Tadao Ando. The naturally lit space, of which some 80 percent is underground, is home to Japan’s first design museum. The simple lines of the building’s steel-and-concrete roof are typically Japanese in their emphasis on modesty. The museum is nestled in a green park, which softens the sharp exterior. Temporary exhibitions typically focus on the role design plays in daily life and how we interact with it. The museum is near the Tokyo Midtown complex in Roppongi, a short walk from Nogizaka Station.

Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake created this experimental design museum, and star Japanese architect Tadao Ando constructed the building. The museum always has great installations by artists such as the industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa. —Kashiwa Sato
7 Chome-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-8558, Japan
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.
Japan, 〒110-0001 Tōkyō-to, Taito City, Yanaka, 6-chōme−1−23 柏湯跡
An art gallery in a former public bathhouse, Scai presents rotating exhibits of international and Japanese artists, including Anish Kapoor and Shinko Okuhara. —Marie Doezema
More From AFAR