Tokyo’s Best Photography Museums and Galleries
Capture The Moment
With Japan's craze for taking selfies with pretty much everything that can be hash-tagged across any possible social media site #totallynotus, it makes sense that it also has its fair share of photographic museums and galleries. Check out this list of our favorite places to discover the best of photography in the capital. Go sneak a peek!
Photo Gallery International
Since its opening in 1979, Photo Gallery International (PGI) based in Minato, has served as one of the few galleries specializing in fine art photography in Japan. Aiming to introduce the works of Japanese and international photographers alike, this small gallery runs an average of ten photo exhibitions a year. Past exhibitions include the works of Kikuji Kawada, a renowned Japanese photographer known for capturing the collective unconscious memory of Japan’s defeat in World War II and NY-based Mark Osterman & France Scully Osterman’s “Still Life.” The gallery also has a lovely shop, where visitors can buy photo books and technical textbooks, as well as photo preserving materials. See here for the current and upcoming exhibitions.
Address: TKB Building 3F, 2-3-4, Higashi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
Gallery Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (weekdays), to 6 p.m. (Saturdays). Closed Sundays and national holidays.
Tokyo Photographic Art (TOP) Museum
Opened in 1995 as Japan’s only public photography and moving images museum, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum remains to date one of the largest, most prestigious museums of its kind. Boasting an impressive permanent collection of 33,000 works, three large exhibition galleries displaying the oeuvre of Japanese and international artists, plus a giant library, this museum is the real Tokyo hub for everything photography-related. In addition to constantly updated exhibitions, the museum also periodically organizes lectures, workshops and other events, attracting large crowds of visitors every year.
Address: Ebisu Garden Place, 1-13-3, Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo.
Gallery Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday).
Curated by Japanese photographer Yoshihiko Ueda, Gallery 916 is a small, private photo gallery tucked away in a renovated warehouse close to Tokyo Bay. You won’t find major collections here, but the sense of privacy and in-depth focus on every exhibition makes this gallery unique. Former exhibitions stretch from portrait photography, including Rika Noguchi’s “My Father’s Album” and Yoshihiko Ueda’s “A Life With Camera” to animal and nature photography, including an impressive display of horses caught on camera.
Address: Suzue Daisan building 6F, 1-14-24 Kaigan, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
Gallery Hours: 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. (Tue to Fri) to 6:30 p.m. (weekends). Closed Mondays.
Canon Gallery S
The largest of all Canon galleries in Japan, Canon Gallery S organizes an average of eight exhibitions per year, predominantly focusing on displaying the works of established Japanese photographers. The gallery’s regular collection also includes 1,900 photography and art works owned by Canon Japan. Focusing on Japanese works, the gallery certainly lacks an international vibe, but is a wonderful resource for anyone wishing to see different angles of Japan through the lenses of its most renowned photographers.
Address: Canon S Tower, 2-16-6, Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8011.
Gallery Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed on Sundays and national holidays).
Taka Ishii Gallery Photography
The story of this gallery begins in 1994 when Takayuki Ishii, a devoted photography admirer, opened “a gallery that shows photography as it is” shortly after returning from a 10-year stint in the U.S.. The gallery focuses on presenting the works of artists who produce entirely unedited works, in a bid to demonstrate that photography is diverse and creative even at its most fundamental. On display are works of both international and Japanese artists, including Nobuyoshi Araki, Daidou Moriyama and young upcoming artists. The main photo gallery is located in Roppongi, but branches can also be found in Paris and New York.
Address: 6-5-24 3F Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
Gallery Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Tuesdays to Saturdays).
Rat Hole Gallery
It will forever be a mystery how the founders of this stylish gallery came up with its name, but the place is a true gem for any photography admirers and it certainly has no rats (despite being located at a basement). This unique and largely unknown place, located in art bustling Aoyama, displays the works of professional and amateur photographers from across the globe and has some really cool exhibitions, including the very current one “Women With Cameras by the American visual artist Anne Collier. © Photo by Anne Collier
Address: 5-5-3-B1, Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
Gallery Hours: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. (closed Mondays).
IMA Concept Store
Founded as the live equivalent to the famous Japanese photography magazine IMA, this small contemporary art gallery (calling itself a store) is designed under the slogan “living with photography” and runs various photo exhibitions and photography-related events multiple times a year, including talk shows by famous photographers and figures.
Address: AXIS Building 3F, 5-17-1, Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0032.
Gallery Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closed on Sundays and Mondays).
What is your favorite photography gallery or museum in Japan? We’d love to hear from you if you’re based outside Tokyo too!