- Mori Art Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
- Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
- Artizon Museum
- Sumida Hokusai Museum
- Nezu Museum
- Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
- Suntory Museum of Art
Tokyo is widely regarded as one of the world’s premier art cities.
And with more than 100 museums across its boundaries, it's easy to immerse yourself in the arts when visiting.
When in Tokyo, explore what the city’s diverse, modern art scene offers. From Japan’s top art museums, many the first of their kind, to Tokyo’s vibrant and unmissable arts districts, here’s everything you need to know about the art scene in Tokyo.
Navigating the arts scene in Tokyo is quite simple. Frankly, because art is everywhere. The city is flush with museums, galleries, and arts-centric spaces, seemingly at every turn.
And that’s no mistake. Art is ingrained into Japanese culture. And over the years, institutions have been founded to preserve and protect Japan’s rich cultural history a la art.
While these art spaces feature vast collections of ancient relics and vintage works, many of today’s institutions are taking a more modern or contemporary approach to all things art by promoting emerging artists and featuring the works of globally-renowned creators.
Whether you want to look ahead or look back at some of Japan’s most timeless artworks, there’s a pass for that.
The Grutto Pass is your key to Tokyo’s art museums. Across Tokyo, there are 101 museums and other facilities that accept this pass. And having a Grutto Pass earns you discounted admission and, in some cases, free entry.
Use the Grutto Pass at Mori Art Museum and the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum for discounts on permanent exhibitions and special exhibitions. And, with the Grutto Pass, you can experience the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum with free admission.
The Grutto Pass is available as a hard copy card, or for modern travelers, the Grutto Pass is available as a scannable QR code that lives on your smartphone. The pass can be purchased online or onsite at any of the 101 participating locations.
These explorable arts areas are brimming with unique, art-filled experiences and are home to some of the most popular museums in Japan.
Located on the west side of Tokyo and part of Minato ward, the affluent area of Aoyama is bursting with galleries and museums, chic designer fashion boutiques, high-end restaurants, universities, manicured parks, and art spaces, like the famed Nezu Museum.
This arts and culture district is no stranger to the arts. Art has been embedded into the DNA of Yokohama’s history and today this area is recognized as a growing contemporary arts hive that’s filled with galleries, public art, large-scale murals, studios, original architecture, creative spaces, and craft restaurants.
Widely regarded as one of Tokyo’s most happening entertainment districts, Roppongi stands out for its opulent high-rises, nightlife scene, art galleries, and museums, which include the Suntory Art Museum and Mori Art Museum, among others.
This lively area is best known for its famous Ueno Park, which draws in visitors for its cherry blossoms in the springtime. It is also home to performing art spaces, public art and shrines, green spaces, and open-air markets, as well as the Tokyo National Museum and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
Art often transcends language barriers. And for international travelers, art can be the best way to experience a new culture. While the amount of art spaces across Tokyo is seemingly boundless, these eight Japan art museums are a must-see for any art enthusiast.
Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
The Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, opened in 2003 and is home to a variety of contemporary artworks ranging from Japanese and Asia-Pacific art to the art from all over the world, known for its originally-curated exhibitions. In fact, The Mori Art Museum is one of Asia’s largest, leading contemporary art institutions. And it indeed features works utilizing a wide variety of media, including photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, and video.
This critically-acclaimed art museum is perched above the Tokyo skyline, atop the central Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. Here, you experience sweeping day-to-night views of the city from its sister facility, Tokyo City View, the indoor observation deck and the Sky Deck. Hungry patrons can even savor a meal at the Museum Cafe & Restaurant, THE SUN & THE MOON, while relishing in scenic views of Tokyo.
Guests can commemorate their visit by picking up a souvenir at one of the four onsite Museum Shops. Each shop has unique inventories that include exhibition-inspired items, collaboration pieces, zines and books, and even ceramic pieces by up-and-coming artists.
• Address: Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032
• Hours of operation: Wednesdays-Mondays 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM (last admission: 9:30 PM) ; Tuesdays 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last admission: 4:30 PM)
The Museum of Contemporary Art comprises a vast permanent collection that includes 5,550 individual works of art from both Japan and abroad. Dating back to 1926, the collection showcases many pioneering postwar works that have come to define the arts over the decades.
The Museum of Contemporary Art highlights trending, and emerging artists in its series of rotating exhibitions, with between six and eight temporary exhibitions held annually.
Plus, curious bookworms can visit the MOT Art Library, the largest specialty library in Japan. The Art Library houses a far-reaching collection of 270,000 unique literary materials, ranging from books and catalogs to art magazines and more — a true book lover's dream.
• Address: 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0022
• Hours of operation: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM; closed on Monday
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is regarded as one of the most storied art spaces in Japan. Originally founded in 1926, the museum’s creation marked a new era in the nation’s history as Japan shifted from the Taisho period (1912-1926) to the Showa period (1926-1989). It was also the first public art museum in all of Japan at the time of its opening.
Today, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum considers itself a “doorway to art,” welcoming visitors from near and far and inviting museum-goers to discover the arts through a series of educational programs, large-scale art exhibitions featuring works from around the world, contemporary thematic exhibitions, and community exhibitions that give public art groups and students a place to showcase their work.
Not only does this space accommodate the arts, but it’s also an art piece in itself. Positioned in Ueno Park, the current Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum was designed by renowned Japanese architect Kunio Maekawa in the 1960s, making this Tokyo art museum a must-visit for architecture buffs.
• Address: 8-36 Uenokoen, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007
• Hours of operation: Tuesday-Sunday 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM (last admission: 5:00 PM); Friday 9:30 AM to 8:00 PM during special exhibitions (last admission: 7:30 PM); closed every first and third Monday
Formerly the Bridgestone Museum of Art, the newly-opened Artizon Museum at Tokyo’s 23-story Museum Tower is a marvel of modern technology, design, and architecture. The Artizon Museum encompasses the lower section of the Tokyo skyscraper with galleries spanning from the fourth to the sixth floor, an area twice the size of the original. Its new namesake, Artizon, combines the two words, “art” and “horizon,” and was coined specially for the museum.
The Aritzon Museum has an impressive collection of nearly 3,000 works of art. From antique works to contemporary pieces, the Artizon Museum’s Ishibashi Foundation Collection, first established in 1956 by the Japanese industrialist Shojiro Ishibashi, is seemingly boundless. Highlights from the varied collection include works from prolific artists such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Here, the art extends beyond the galleries. The museum cafe at Artizon boasts an arts-inspired atmosphere that is brimming with pieces from the influential Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata and a collection of beautiful Venetian glass by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass is on display, too.
• Address: 1-7-2 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0031
• Hours of operation: Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM; Friday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM; closed on Monday
Renowned Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai spent most of his life living and working in the Sumida Ward. Today, art enthusiasts and fans of the ukiyo-e artist visiting Tokyo’s Sumida Hokusai Museum can encounter displays portraying some of his most iconic masterpieces.
Sumida Hokusai Museum features seven permanent exhibits dedicated to the life and work of Hokusai and his close relationship with Sumida. Visitors can see a collection of full-scale, high-quality replicas of major works from different periods of Hokusai’s career. The museum also features an immersive, life-size model of Hokusai’s home art studio when he lived with his daughter Oei in Hannokibaba in Sumida Ward.
The four-story museum is complete with a museum shop and small library that is stocked with books on subjects ranging from Japanese history to religion, art, and culture.
• Address: 2-7-2 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0014
• Hours of operation: Tuesday-Sunday 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM; closed on Monday
Residing in the upscale Aoyama district, the esteemed Nezu Museum is home to an expansive private collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art curated by the Japanese businessman Nezu Kaichiro. Kaichiro began curating works early in his life from a wide range of genres including metalwork, sculpture, ceramics, lacquerware, textiles, painting, calligraphy, armor, archaeological specimens, and tea wares, which are a significant pillar of the collection today.
Following Kaichiro’s sudden passing in 1940, Kaichiro’s son established a foundation to preserve his father’s collection. A year later, the Nezu Museum opened in its current location. Since then, the robust collection has grown to a total of 7,400 works, which includes seven National Treasures, 88 Important Cultural Properties, and 94 Important Art Objects.
Additionally, the Nezu Museum is complete with its own lush strolling garden. The urban oasis is decorated with stone lanterns and features stone-paved pathways, making it easy for visitors to explore the picture-perfect waterfalls and flora throughout the garden. Equally as picturesque is the Nezu Cafe. Surrounded by glass on three sides, the onsite eatery provides unobstructed views of the museum’s verdant garden.
• Address: 6-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062
• Hours of operation: Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last admission: 4:30 PM); closed Monday-Tuesday
The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, also known as TOP Museum, plays a pivotal role in preserving and honoring the photographic arts. The museum was established in 1990, and it was Japan’s first museum dedicated solely to photography.
TOP houses a vast permanent collection of work that spans 33,000 works in total. The museum offers a series of ongoing exhibitions, which includes an exhibit that explores avant-garde photography and its popularity in Osaka and Tokyo. Visitors can also experience lectures, photography-related events, and workshops at TOP.
• Address: Yebisu Garden Place, 1-13-3 Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0062
• Hours of operation: Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM; Thursday-Friday, 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM; closed on Monday
Founded in 1961, this Roppongi area art museum in Tokyo Midtown is beautiful inside and out. Designed by Kengo Kuma, the museum has an ‘urban living room’ appeal rooted in tranquility and comfort. And upon entry, it’s apparent. The Suntory Museum of Art shines.
Its collection numbers more than 3,000 objects ranging from ceramics and paintings to vintage Japanese art as well as Western glassware and Japanese glassware such as a Qing period red vase and an Edo period indigo blue boat shaped bowl. The Suntory Museum of Art is also home to notable works such as The Conquest of Shutendōji, a set of three painted handscrolls from the Muromachi period (1522) as well as a collection of silk painted textiles and kimonos. In total, the Suntory Museum of Art houses one National Treasure, 15 Important Cultural Properties, and 21 Important Art Objects.
In addition to its wide-ranging collection of art, the Suntory Museum of Art invites guests to experience its learning programs. Do keep in mind, some adjustments have been made to the museum’s programming schedule due to the ongoing global pandemic. Museum programming includes immersive experiences, for example, museum-goers can savor sweets and matcha green tea at the museum’s tea ceremony (conducted in Japanese only). Additional programming at the Suntory Museum of Art includes exhibition-related breakouts and special events for children.
A trip to the Suntory Museum of Art is not complete without a stop at its in-house cafe. The cafe is operated by the historic Kanazawa company (founded in 1865), Kaga-fu Fumuro-ya, and offers a pre-fixed menu flush with colorful and carefully-crafted bites and sweets.
• Address: Tokyo Midtown Galleria 3F, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8643
• Hours of operation: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM; Friday-Saturday, 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM; closed on Tuesday
When making your travel plans, do keep in mind that the museum is closed during the exhibition replacement period.
Art abounds in Tokyo. And Japan Airlines can take you there. A simple and affordable fare, JAL Japan Explorer Pass connects travelers to more than 30 cities across the JAL network, including arts-centric Tokyo. What are you waiting for? Immerse yourself in the rich history of the arts and discover modern art in Japan. Start planning your next trip with Japan Airlines today.
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