• Naoko Mikami

A Guide to Tokyo Museums


The National Art Center, Tokyo

(国立新美術館)

Location: Roppongi


NACT is an 'empty museum', without a collection, permanent display, or curators. It accommodates temporary exhibitions sponsored and curated by other organizations.


Mori Art Museum

(森美術館)

Location: Roppongi


The museum focuses on contemporary art and primarily exhibits works of Asian artists. It also features the MAM project which exhibits solo shows on a smaller scale in the museum space.



Nezu Museum

(根津美術館)

Location: Aoyama


The Nezu Museum collects more than 7,400 objects including seven items designated as National Treasures (incl. "Irises" by Ogata Korin), 87 Important Cultural Properties, and 94 works registered as Important Art Objects.


Ota Memorial Museum of Art

(太田記念美術館)

Location: Harajuku


The collection of the museum consists of about 14000 pieces of ukiyo-e works. It has a remarkable character, not only masterpieces by Kitagawa Utamaro, Katsushika Hokusa and Utagawa Hiroshige but also masterpieces of ukiyo-e from its origin through all stages.


Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

(東京都美術館)

Location: Ueno


A wide variety of cooperative and special exhibitions are held regularly. Art Communication Programs are also offered, bringing people together through power of art.


The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

(東京国立近代美術館)

Location: Takebashi


The main feature of the MoMAT is one of the largest collection in Japan comprising more than 13,000 items including Important Cultural Properties. It houses many Japanese masterpieces in various genres from the early 20th century to the present including works from abroad. In a turbulent age of Japan’s rapid modernization, artists continued to search for truly epoch-making expression between the traditional Japanese sense of beauty and a different culture in Western art.


The National Museum of Western Art

(東京西洋美術館)

Location: Ueno


The museum features pre-18th century paintings including those by Ritzos, Van Cleve, Veronese, Rubens, Van Ruysdael, and Ribera, 19th to early 20th century French paintings including works by Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Moreau and works by the next generation of artists, such as Marquet, Picasso, Soutin, Ernst, Miro, Dubuffet and Pollock.


The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts

(東京藝術大学 大学美術館)

Location: Ueno


The museum opened on October 4, 1999 as a university museum with particular focus on artistic materials. For over 120 years since establishment of the Tokyo Fine Arts School (present day Tokyo University of the Arts) in 1887, the museum has developed a collection of works serving as visual references in art education.


The Ueno Royal Museum

(上野の森美術館)

Location: Ueno


Situated on the premises of Ueno Park, this private museum offers special exhibitions in a broad range of genres. The museum has built a reputation as a domestic and international hub of art.



Tokyo Photographic Art Museum

(東京都美術館)

Location: Yebis


The museum collects, in addition to the photographic works (original prints) that are the focus of the collection, a wide range of other materials that facilitate a comprehensive understanding of photographic culture.


Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

(東京都現代美術館)

Location: Koto-ku


The museum presents exhibitions of work from its collection of approximately 5,200, that have been acquired either for their historical significance or because they are by young artists representative of the current art scene, offering systematic introductions to postwar art history both at home and abroad or arranged according to various themes.


Suntory Museum of Art

(サントリー美術館)

Location: Akasaka (Tokyo Midtown Roppongi)


The museum's total collection contains 3,000 pieces related to Japanese life and is made up of an impressive array of ceramics, lacquerware, and glassware as well as paintings, ancient scrolls, screens, and fabric. The entire permanent collection is not on display. Rather, themed exhibitions featuring pieces from it are open for two to three months at a time.


Idemitsu Museum of Art

(出光美術館)

Location: Marunouchi


This extensive collection includes Japanese painting (yamato-e, rimpa, bunjin-ga, ukiyo-e, and works by Sengai and modern painter Kosugi Hōan, etc.) and calligraphy, East Asian ceramics (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean wares, and works of modern potter, Itaya Hazan, etc.). The collection also has works of Western painters (Georges Rouault and Sam Francis). The total works number some fifteen thousand items, including two National Treasures and fifty-four Important Cultural Properties.


Mitsui Memorial Museum

(三井記念美術館)

Location: Nihonbashi


The museum's collection includes items used in the Japanese tea ceremony as well as Eastern antiques. Over 4,000 items collected by the Mitsui family since the Edo period of Japan are showcased within the museum.


The Sumida Hokusai Museum

(すみだ北斎美術館)

Location: Ryogoku


The collection features an exhibit of his life and the relationship between Hokusai and Sumida through high-definition real-size replicas of representative works and related episodes. In addition, special exhibitions of the results of research and studies on Hokusai and Sumida will be held in the gallery.


Yamatane Museum of Art

(山種美術館)

Location: Hiroo


The museum's collection of over 1,800 works is centered on modern and contemporary nihonga from the Meiji period on. It also includes classic calligraphy, early modern paintings, ukiyo-e, and Western-style paintings.



Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery

(東京オペラシティアートギャラリー)

Location: Shinjuku


It holds special exhibitions about four times a year, introducing various and unique activities of art. Along with the special exhibitions, the Gallery also holds a solo exhibition series called “project N”, which aims at focusing on emerging Japanese artists in accordance with the wishes of the late Nambata Tatsuoki, one of the main painters in their collection.


The Gotoh Museum

(五島美術館)

Location: Setagaya


The collection of the Gotoh Museum consists primarily of Japanese and Chinese works of art including paintings, tea ceremony implements, ceramics, calligraphy, ancient mirrors, and swords. Perhaps the most celebrated item in the museum's collection is the Illustrated Handscroll of The Tale of Genji, dating from the Heian Period.


Bunkamura The Museum

(Bunkamura ザ・ミュージアム)

Location: Shibuya


The Bunkamura Museum of Art has produced significant exhibitions of Modern art, including personal exhibitions of unique important artists while introducing masterpieces of major foreign museums. Through theme-oriented approaches, views toward the future, and captivating themes, The Bunkamura Museum of Art has won recognition both in Japan and abroad.


Shiodome Museum

(汐留ミュージアム)

Location: Shiodome


The museum's Rouault collection consists of approximately 230 works including oil paintings and representative print series. A selection of these works is on permanent display, and furthermore the museum periodically holds special exhibitions relating to the artist. In addition, the museum holds exhibitions on themes corresponding to the actual undertakings of the company, such as "architecture" and "design" and "applied arts".


Edo-Tokyo Museum

(江戸東京博物館)

Location: Ryogoku


The permanent exhibition, showcasing original objects and replicas, offers visitors a journey through the 400-year history of Edo-Tokyo since Tokugawa Ieyasu entered Edo. In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum holds special exhibitions at the first floor gallery five to six times a year and carries out various other events, including lectures and workshops on the history and culture of Edo-Tokyo.



The NTT InterCommunication Center

(NTTインターコミュニケーション・センター)

Location: Shinjuku


Since its founding, the ICC has introduced leading-edge technologies in media art works including virtual reality and interactive multimedia, as well as holding format and category-defying exhibitions, introducing experimental trials and programs including workshops, performances, symposiums, and publications.

The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art

(ワタリウム美術館)

Location: Aoyama


The museum Invites curating specialists from all over the world to present exhibitions with international artists striving for the development of contemporary art. Large retrospective exhibitions of the artists Joseph Beuys, Larry Clark, Henry Darger, Jan Fabre, Federico Herrero, Mike Kelley, John Lurie, Barry McGee, Nam June Paik, Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, have been held at the museum over the last few years.


The Japanese Sword Museum

(刀剣博物館)

Location: Ryogoku


The museum has a collection of more than 150 items, including swords (mainly katana), tosogu (mountings), yoroi (armor) as well as documents of metal working.


21_21 Design Sight

Location: Akasaka (Tokyo Midtown Roppongi)


21_21 Design Sight is a design-focused museum created by world-reknowned architect, Tadao Ando in collaboration with fashion designer Issei Miyake. Most of the exhibitions and workshops here focus on the theme of “everyday life,” and explore the often underappreciated world of design that is hidden in plain sight.

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