5 Must-See Tokyo Museums For Every Kind of Art Fan

5 Must-See Tokyo Museums For Every Kind of Art Fan

Eye candy for art lovers everywhere!

Entering a museum in Tokyo is like falling into a wonderland of art. You never know what doorways or portals of imagination you might walk into. 

While making your way across the city, it’s not uncommon to see posters of the latest museum exhibitions and installations plastered across the walls of train stations. That is to say, you don’t have to venture too far on a plane to follow the call of art. You can drop by these visually captivating Tokyo museums, waiting for you right here in the heart of Japan! 

Also read: 31 Fun Things to Do in Tokyo on Your First Visit [Updated 2019]

1. Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park

Aside from being a famous gathering site for hanami, Ueno Park is also home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, one of the most popular art museums in the city. Built in 1926, this brick-faced museum features highly coveted paintings, ceramics, sculptures, calligraphy, and woodblock prints from Japanese and international artists. 

While it has no permanent collection, this museum in Tokyo hosts an ever-changing rotation of thematic exhibitions across six galleries. Past showcases have included the works of Van Gogh, Picasso, Renoir, Cézanne, and Klimt.

Address: 8-36 Ueno-Park Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007

Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 9.30am to 5.30pm; Fridays, 9.30am to 8pm; closed on the first and third Mondays of the month

2. Yayoi Kusama Museum in Shinjuku

tokyo museums: yayoi kusama

Image credit: Celline Mercado

Step into a room of polka-dotted pumpkins at the Yayoi Kusama Museum in Tokyo, where five floors of a minimalist building and a rooftop gallery are dedicated to Japan’s most celebrated living artist. 

The Japanese-American artist was born with a condition that caused her to hallucinate spots from a very young age. Today, Kusama’s avant-garde creations are distinguished by their dotted patterns, abstract swirls, vivid colours, and pinpricks of light. Moreover, her Infinity Mirror Room installations conjure the illusion of limitless space, where every corner is touched with a brush of the surreal. 

Image credit: Celline Mercado

Since this Tokyo museum tends to be frequently booked by, well, anyone with an Instagram account, be sure to purchase your tickets well in advance through the website. Therefore, time your visit carefully, as you can only wander around the museum for 90 minutes. 

Address: 107 Bentencho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 162-0851 Japan

Hours: Thursday to Sunday; 11am to 5.30pm; closed from Monday to Wednesday

Also read: Naoshima: An Island in Japan That’s Brimming With Art

3. National Museum of Western Art in Ueno Park

tokyo museums: western art

Image credit: 663highland

What do Rodin’s The Thinker, Monet’s Les Nymphéas, and Van Gogh’s Roses have in common? These renowned pieces have all found a home at the National Museum of Western Art, cradled in the beautiful tree-lined streets of Ueno Park. 

Designed by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, this UNESCO World Heritage Site and beloved Tokyo museum  contains 5,500 works of Western art in its permanent collection, including an entire room devoted to Monet. 

Vincent Van Gogh’s Roses | Image credit: Ribberlin (left); Claude Monet’s Water Lilies | Image credit: Matsukata Collection (right)

As you behold the legacy of prolific painters in these halls, a clear realisation rings true: You don’t have to fly all the way to Europe to witness great art. 

Address: 7-7 Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan

Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 9.30am to 5.30pm; Friday to Saturday, 9.30am to 9.00pm; closed on Mondays 

4. MORI Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless in Odaiba

Image credit: ginomempin

If there’s anything that our friends’ vacation photos of Japan have taught us, it’s that we shouldn’t miss Insta-worthy opportunities when we see one. Thankfully, this digital museum in Tokyo has plenty of photo-perfect moments! 

The Mori Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless is a multi-sensory experience that collapses the boundaries between the spectator and the objects of art. Thus, dancing lights projected from ceiling-to-floor installations let visitors walk through a glowing world without borders. 

Consequently, this is what the museum believes and proudly manifests: If paintings could move, we would be right in the middle of them. Whether radiant lanterns are surrounding you like fireflies or the mirrored floors reflect bursts of colour, this interconnected digital forest will make you see stars. 

Address: 1-3-8 Odaiba Palette Town, Aomi, Koto 135-0064, Tokyo Prefecture

Hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 7pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 9pm; closed on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month 

5. Ghibli Museum in Mitaka

Image credit: Wei-Te Wong

Pinned sketches of character designs. Splashes of paint captured in their exact hues. Volumes containing photographs of real-life locations in Japan. These are laid out on the tables like treasure maps all over the Ghibli Museum, leading you into the fantasy worlds of Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, and more. 

If watching films by Hayao Miyazaki makes you happy, then so will this Tokyo museum! Inside, film screenings and special exhibitions offer a window into the mind of Hayao Miyazaki, whose hand-painted backgrounds have changed the landscape of traditional animation forever. 

tokyo museums: ghibli

Image credit: ultraodel (left); Seth Vidal (right)

Meanwhile, delightful cameos of characters are strewn like jewels throughout this humble enclave, positioned near Inokashira Park. Greet the giant robot on the grounds, or stop by the Straw Hat Cafe for ice cream. This is a museum that takes you by the hand and tells you that it’s okay to let your inner child run wild every once in a while. 

Address: Mitaka-shi, Tokyo, 181-0013, Japan

Hours: Wednesday to Monday, 10am to 6pm; closed on Tuesdays 

Also read: I Spent a Day Eating My Way Through the Real-Life Town of ‘Spirited Away’

Needless to say, this bustling city is brimming with an insatiable wonder for art and the people who create it. Out of all these wonderful art museums in Tokyo, which one calls out to you the most? If you have any memorable experiences or artsy selfies you would like to share with our travel community, tag us on IG: @tripzillamag

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer based in Manila. When she was younger, she knew she wanted to write stories or go on adventures—now, she's learning to do both. She enjoys being swept up in books that spark her curiosity for new places, both real and imaginary. While travelling, she finds herself going off the beaten track quite often, but it's probably because she gets lost easily.

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