Tokyo is a true cultural hub that offers endless options for art museums and galleries. Although it’s great to always have new places to go, the sheer number of facilities found in this metropolis make it easy to miss out on some fantastic exhibits. This article will introduce five of Tokyo’s lesser-known art museums and galleries you should absolutely stop by when in the city.
Whether you’re an artist or just trying to find a place to spend your weekend afternoons, the Tokyo Museum Grutto Pass is also something to consider for anyone on a budget. The Tokyo Museum Grutto Pass is a convenient annual ticket booklet that provides free entry tickets, as well as discount coupons for 99 museums and other facilities in the Tokyo area for just ¥2,500. More info here.
Established in 1988, Tokyo Station Gallery was added to Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi Building as a facility where people could gather to enjoy art and culture in one of the city’s busiest stations. It now offers rotating exhibits that showcase both traditional Japanese and Western artworks. Moreover, a panoramic view of Tokyo Station can be enjoyed from the museum’s second floor. Here you will also find a permanent exhibit introducing the museum and station’s history as well as a gift shop with a range of Tokyo Station-themed goods.
1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
10am to 6pm * Fridays until 8pm
The Teien Art Museum is a standout amongst the many museums found in Tokyo. Designed in a heavily French-influenced Art Deco style, it once served as a residence for Prince Asaka and his family. Inside the museum, you’ll find glass-relief doors, chandeliers and marble staircases. In its grounds, there is both a traditional Japanese garden and a European-style garden decorated with statues and fountains. Also designated as one of Japan’s Important Cultural Properties in 2015, this museum is located a short seven-minute walk from Meguro Station. Along with the architecture being one of its main highlights, various Art Deco and Western art exhibits are held throughout the year.
5-21-9 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku
10am to 6pm * Closed on Mondays
Nezu Museum offers many exhibits with a focus on pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art. A large number of the artworks found in this museum once belonged to Nezu Kaichiro — the former president of Tobu Railway. After his passing in 1940, Kaichiro’s son opened the Nezu Museum as a way to preserve the impressive collection, which started at 4,642 works and has now grown to over 7,400. Another highlight is the Nezu Cafe located within the facility’s traditional Japanese garden. Relax with some coffee and treats while taking in the beauty of the surrounding nature. Located a short walk from Omotesando Station, this is a recommended museum for those looking to immerse themselves in Japanese culture.
6-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku
10am to 5pm * Closed on Mondays
Ota Memorial Museum of Art showcases a range of works centering around the ukiyo-e genre. Ukiyo-e is a Japanese art genre that emerged in the 18th century and depicts the lifestyle of common people during the Edo period. The museum’s collection amounts to 14,000 artworks, of which approximately 12,000 once belonged to the late Seizo Ota — the former president of the Toho Insurance Company. Easily accessible from Shibuya Station, many rotating and permanent exhibits can be enjoyed throughout the year in a traditional Japanese atmosphere. Experience Japanese culture through exquisite woodblock prints and nikihitsu-ga (hand-painted ukiyo-e works).
1-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
10:30am to 5pm * Closed on Mondays
Founded by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum is home to thousands of art photographs, photography videos and reference materials on photography from Japan and around the world. It showcases a wide range of works that have made a cultural impact and pushed the artistic boundaries of photography. You can find this museum a short walk from Ebisu Station in Yebisu Garden Place. It’s also free and open to the public, so take your time when looking through the vast collection of photography books and magazines available.
1-13-3 Mita, Meguro-ku
10am to 6pm * Thursdays and Fridays until 8pm. Closed on Mondays.
Countermeasures Against Covid-19
Please check each facility beforehand to see if there have been any changes made to business hours or services available.