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Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums

An Updated List for Your Tokyo Art Excursions

By Nadila
June 30, 2023
Art & Culture

Tokyo has a diverse selection of art museums, each one catering to each niche art movement or subculture. Here is Savvy’s list of some of the city’s art museums worth the visit—covering traditional Japanese crafts all the way to contemporary design.

A popular form of leisure and loved by many Tokyo residents is a trip to the museum. You can find people of all ages gazing at paintings or walking through contemporary installations. Whether on a date, a school trip or simply spending time with yourself, art museums are a welcoming space. We present our top 10 picks for Tokyo’s best art institutions.

1. Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by iStock: coward_lion
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is located inside of Ueno Park.

The forming of an urban identity and the growing arts and culture scene marked Tokyo’s shift into the Showa period as a modern city. The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, then called “Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum”, became Japan’s first-ever public art museum after its establishment in 1926. The institution prides itself on being a platform for artists from all over the world as well as local independent art groups. Now, the museum hosts a number of large-scale special and thematic exhibitions every few months and actively provides spaces for local art groups and school education exhibits. 

  • Open: Daily from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (until 8 p.m. for special exhibitions on Fri.), Closed: Varies by exhibition
  • Admission: Museum entry is free, exhibition fees may vary
  • Address: 8-36 Uenokoen, Taito-ku – MAP
  • Access: 7-minute walk from Ueno Station

2. Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT)

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Kenta Hasegawa
Entrance to Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

Located in Kiba Park in East Tokyo is the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), most known for its retrospective exhibitions of renowned international and Japanese contemporary artists. On top of their special exhibits, the MOT collection shows off the establishment’s collection of over 5,000 works of contemporary art. The museum also features an art library, where visitors can access an abundance of books and references related to fine arts. 

  • Open: Daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Closed: Mon.
  • Admission: Varies by exhibition
  • Address: 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku – MAP
  • Access: 9-minute walk from Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station, 15-minute walk from Kiba Station

3. Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (TOP Museum)

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
Entrance to the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum.

For those interested in photography and moving images, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum located in Ebisu will be worth the visit. Specializing in the collection, preservation, study and display of photography works, the museum aims to popularize and make accessible the art of still and moving images. The museum curates around 20 exhibitions a year featuring photographers from Japan and all over the world. With a total of five floors housing three gallery spaces, a cafe, a museum shop and a library, the TOP Museum is an excellent opportunity to delve into the art form.

  • Open: Daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m (until 8 p.m. on Thu. and Fri.)., Closed: Mon.
  • Admission: Varies by exhibition
  • Address: Yebisu Garden Place, 1-13-3 Mita Meguro-ku – MAP
  • Access: 7-minute walk from Ebisu Station

4. Ginza Graphic Gallery (ggg) 

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Nadila
Entrance to the ginza graphic gallery.

Although not a museum, the Ginza Graphic Gallery can be a great place to start for those interested in diving into graphic design and typography. Run by one of Japan’s largest printing companies, Dai Nippon Printing, the gallery houses two floors of curated thematic exhibitions and a library crowded with books about graphic design, all of which are accessible for free. One perk about ggg is that it only takes around 10-20 minutes to explore, which allows Ginza visitors to fit in a little art excursion in their shopping or business trip.

  • Open: Daily from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Closed: Sun. and national holidays
  • Admission: Free
  • Address: DNP Ginza Building 2F-B1, 7-7-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku – MAP
  • Access: 3-minute walk from Ginza Station, 5-minute walk from Yurakucho Station

5. Suntory Museum of Art

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Suntory Museum of Art

Located in Tokyo Midtown, Suntory Museum of Art is a sleek gallery showcasing years of Japanese art as well as a collection of Eastern and Western antiques. Their collection of around 3,000 works include paintings, textile, ceramics and glassware. Their special exhibitions have featured retrospectives to unsung artists and notable art movements. With wood ceilings that finish off the lavish look, the interior of the museum enhances the experience of the art viewing.

  • Open: Daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), Closed: Tue.
  • Admission: Varies by exhibition, Free for Junior high-school students and under
  • Address: Tokyo Midtown Galleria 3F, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku – MAP
  • Access: Direct access from Roppongi Station, 5-minute walk from Nogizaka Station

6. Japan Folk Crafts Museum

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Nadila
Entrance view of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum.

Among the number of museums dedicated to Japanese traditional art is the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, which was built for and specializes in mingei, a form of hand-crafted art made by ordinary people. The museum building was established in 1936 and takes on traditional Japanese architecture; visitors will be asked to take off their shoes in order to enter the premises. The museum collection holds over 17,000 works ranging from ceramics, textiles, jewelry and more.

  • Open: Daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Closed: Mon.
  • Admission: ¥1200 (Adults), ¥700 (University & high-school students), ¥200 (Junior high-school & elementary school students)
  • Address: 4-3-33 Komaba, Meguro-ku – MAP
  • Access: 7-minute walk from Komaba Todai-mae Station

7. Play! Museum

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Manami Takahashi
Interior of special exhibition, Shuntaro Tanikawa “Picture Book Exhibition”.

Play! Museum lives up to its name—being one of Tokyo’s more playful, interactive and child-friendly art museums. Every year the museum showcases around four exhibitions, all of which showcase artists, many of them work with children’s media such as picture books and the like, with distinct and quirky styles. Play! Park located nearby is an indoor playground and is an exciting space for children to roam around and interact with fellow friends. Play! Museum is a great art museum for families or those who prefer less academic art exhibitions.

  • Open: Varies by exhibition
  • Admission: Varies by exhibition
  • Address: 3-1 Green Springs Building W3 2F, 3-1 Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi – MAP
  • Access: 10-minute walk from Tachikawa Station

8. Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum

Located in Meguro is a Western-style mansion surrounded by a large garden and guarded with large gates; the establishment was once the Former Residence of Prince Asaka and is now the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum. The spacious halls and royal interiors are often decorated with artworks that rotate with each thematic exhibition. Previous exhibits have spotlighted histories of interior design, fashion, furniture as well as modern art.  

  • Open: Daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Closed: Mon.
  • Admission: Varies by exhibition
  • Address: 5-21-9 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku – MAP
  • Access: 5-minute walk from Meguro Station and Shirokanedai Station

9. 21_21 Design Sight

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Masaya Yoshimura
21_21 Design Sight is surrounded by a green area.

Midtown Garden is a green area located in the middle of bustling Roppongi, where you can find residents out on a stroll with their dogs, or children roaming around the playgrounds. Situated inside the park is 21_21 Design Sight, a low-rise building with large glass windows and a roof made of steel plates that sinks into the ground. The establishment created by architect Tadao Ando and designer Issey Miyake aims to celebrate design through various temporary exhibitions.

  • Open: Daily from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Closed: Tue.
  • Admission: ¥1400 (Adults), ¥800 (University students), ¥500 (High-school students), Free (Junior high-school & under)
  • Address: Midtown Garden, Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku – MAP
  • Access: 5-minute walk from Roppongi Station and Nogizaka Station

10. Yamatane Museum of Art

Tokyo’s Top 10 Art Museums© Photo by Yamatane Museum of Art

Yamatane Museum of Art prides itself in celebrating traditional Japanese paintings, also known as nihonga. Many of the museum’s collection dates back to the Meiji period and includes modern to contemporary nihonga works. Rows of silk screens and wood panels painted with mineral pigments and traditional ink are found in dimly lit exhibition rooms. Visitors can get close to the paintings and admire works embodying Japan’s cultural identity.

  • Open: Daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Closed: Mon.
  • Admission: Varies by exhibition, Free for elementary school students and under
  • Address: 3-12-36 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, – MAP
  • Access: 10-minute walk from Ebisu Station

Looking for art exhibition recommendations in Tokyo? Don’t forget to check out our fortnightly Tokyo Art Scene articles.

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