Art Museums in Tokyo, Tokyo (Self Guided)

Like any city that is steeped in history and culture, Tokyo too boasts of a rich collection of art. Art museums and galleries across the city have a rich repertoire of art pieces that are worth a view. These museums are great places to learn about Japanese art, culture and a lot more.
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Art Museums in Tokyo Map

Guide Name: Art Museums in Tokyo
Guide Location: Japan » Tokyo (See other walking tours in Tokyo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 km
Author: ann
1
The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art

1) The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art

Aimed at promoting and preserving contemporary art, the Watari Museum hosts works of upcoming talent and displays their works of art. It stands together with the Mori Arts Center and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa as one of the major institutions in Japan and in Asia in the field of contemporary visual arts. It was designed by the architect Mario Botta in 1990. Together with the larger exhibitions, the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art organized lectures, learning workshops for children and small project room exhibitions - showing a balanced interest in both established and emerging artists. The museum is in Shibuya, Tokyo near Gaienmae Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Nezu Museum

2) Nezu Museum (must see)

Nezu Museum, also known as the Nezu Fine Arts Institute, is located in the Minato district of Tokyo and it displays the private collection of Nezu Kaichirō. The museum opened to the public in 1940 and escaped the destruction suffered by the estate property in the bombing of May 1945. Closed due to large-scale renovation and renewal from 2006 onwards, it re-opened in fall 2009 with a completely new museum building by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. This museum boasts of a collection of Chinese bronzes of the Shang and Zhou dynasties and some of the famous Edo period folding-screens of Irises by Ogata Kōrin. It also includes other paintings of renown, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and archaeological materials, as well as objects in lacquer, metal, and wood. The collection also consists of Chinese bronzes of the Shang and Zhou dynasties. The Nezu Art Museum has wide green spaces outside, where visitors can enjoy nature and bask in the tranquil atmosphere.

Why You Should Visit:
Although small, the collection is stellar and the galleries are tightly focused, fascinating introductions to Japanese traditional arts.
You can get lost in the amazing garden and on a nice day, you can spend a long time wandering around its secret paths.
There is also a beautifully designed café overlooking the gardens and several traditional tea houses within the gardens.

Tip:
To experience traditional tea ceremonies, make your reservation at the counter of the museum.

Opening hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
The National Art Center

3) The National Art Center

The National Art Center located in Roppongi, Minato is a unique exhibition center. Its main objective is to facilitate the exhibition, dissemination of information and research on contemporary art trends in Japan and abroad. It has a huge exhibition space and various events are held throughout the year. Standing on the site formerly occupied by a research facility of the University of Tokyo, the building that hosts the museum is a piece of art in itself. It has an exhibition of 600 pieces, concentrating on 20th-century painting and modern art. It was opened on January 21, 2007. The architect for the museum was Kisho Kurokawa. The facility has 47,960 m² of floor space on a 30,000 m² site with four stories above ground and one below. Access is from Nogizaka Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line.

Opening hours: Wednesday - Monday: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Mori Art Museum

4) Mori Art Museum (must see)

The Mori Art Museum is a contemporary art museum founded by the real estate developer Minoru Mori in the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower in the Roppongi Hills complex both of which he built in Tokyo, Japan. Located on the 52nd and the 53rd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, The Mori Art Museum was first opened in 2003. It features state-of-the-art galleries with 6m-tall ceilings, controlled natural lighting, and great views of Tokyo. The interior architect of the museum's galleries is Richard Gluckman.

The museum does not exhibit a permanent collection but rather temporary exhibitions of works by contemporary artists. Artists whose work has been exhibited at the museum include Ai Weiwei, Tokujin Yoshioka and Bill Viola. It features Japanese and Asian art, aimed primarily at a Western audience. The museum also organizes various public programs aimed at making art accessible to the public. The museum's founder Minoru Mori died in March of 2012.

Tip:
Consider visiting Mori in the late afternoon and spending an hour at sunset taking in a view of the entire city from one of the highest places available in the city!
The museum itself does not feature any permanent collections so you should check the website before going, as your experience would depend on the exhibition you pick.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 10am-10pm; Tue: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Yamatane Museum

5) Yamatane Museum

The Yamatane Museum is a small repository of traditional Japanese Nihonga Paintings. It is privately owned and maintained by the Yamatane Stock Trading Company.

The Yamatane Museum opened in July 1966. The main exhibits are from the large collection belonging to the founder of the museum, Taneji Yamazaki. The second director Tomiji Yamazaki expanded the collection adding works by some of the best known Japanese Nihonga painters and instituted the Yamatane Museum of Art Award. The purpose of the museum is to collect, present and interpret Nihonga art through exhibitions and research. Because Nihonga paintings are fragile only a few are displayed at a given time and the exhibits change several times in a year. The interior garden was designed by architect, Yoshio Taniguchi.

Nihonga masterpieces displayed at the Yamatane museum include works by Taikan Yoyokama, Gyoshu Hayami and Kokei Kobayashi. The Dancing Flames painting by Gyoshu Hayami is a designated Important Cultural Property. The catalog of the museum is a lavish coffee table souvenir. The museum’s café offers a special Wagashi or Japanese sweetmeat and Matcha or ceremonial green tea. Some of the sweets offered are by Kikuuya, a long established traditional Japanese confectionary shop in Tokyo. The museum also holds lecture sessions for children and adults so that they may learn more about the unique features of the Nihonga style of painting.

Opening hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Tokyo, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Tokyo

Create Your Own Walk in Tokyo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Tokyo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Ueno Park Walking Tour

Ueno Park Walking Tour

The Ueno Park, next to the Ueno station is a public park that offers visitors a large number of attractions. The area is home to many of the famous attractions in Tokyo. They are the Ueno Zoo, major museums like the Tokyo National Museum, The National Science Museum and The National Museum of Western Art. This walking tour would provide you an insight into old Tokyo. The museums here preserve the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa

Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa

Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines dot Japan’s landscape. These temples and shrines are an architectural splendor and many of these can be found in every part of Tokyo. This guide will take you to the smaller Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in the Takanawa neighborhood of Tokyo. Most often overlooked by tourists, these temples and shrines are a beauty and should not be missed.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Kitanomaru Park Walking Tour

Kitanomaru Park Walking Tour

The Chiyoda district is steeped in history and is a reflection of the city’s culture, both past and present. Besides several prominent historical landmarks like the Imperial Palace, the place boasts of some of the best museums in the region. The Kitanomaru Park, part of the outer gardens of the Imperial Palace, houses the National Museum of Modern Art, Science Museum and the Nippon Bodokan. The...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Tokyo Imperial Palace Walking Tour

Tokyo Imperial Palace Walking Tour

The Imperial Palace, residence of the Japanese Emperor was once the site of the Edo Castle in the 17th – 19th Century. Located in the heart of the city, it is a vast expanse of green and is surrounded by moats. The palace is open only for two days a year - January 1st and December 23rd. However, walking tours of the inner palace grounds is conducted on weekdays except on special occasions. Prior...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Best of Asakusa Walking Tour

Best of Asakusa Walking Tour

The Asakusa district in Tokyo is famous for the Senso-ji temple and is one of the few places in Tokyo that retains the old world charm. The temple markets, narrow streets, traditional shops and restaurants provide a glimpse of old Tokyo. It is also known as Tokyo's oldest geisha district. Take a walking tour and live the carnival atmosphere that pervades this place.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Ginza Shopping Tour

Ginza Shopping Tour

Often compared with New York's Fifth Avenue, Ginza is a district situated in Chuo, Tokyo. It is known as one of the most luxurious shopping regions in Tokyo. The area is home to big department stores and almost all leading world brands have their presence here. Ginza is also famous for its bakeries and restaurants. The small allies leading off from the main road is lined with galleries...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


Authentic Japanese Dining in Tokyo

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Tokyo is home to literally a million eating places, so finding a truly authentic Japanese style restaurant with an English language menu can be rather tricky. We have compiled a list of easy to find Japanese style restaurants covering a range of culinary specialties to make your taste-buds tingle...
Eclectic Bars of Tokyo

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Tokyo for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Tokyo has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money getting around Tokyo and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Greater Tokyo Pass.

Among other conveniences, this pass allows bearer to explore Tokyo's metropolitan area with unlimited rides on railways of 12 private railway companies in Kanto area, as well as buses of 51 companies in metropolitan Tokyo and surrounding 3 prefectures for 3 days!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Tokyo hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Toshi Center Hotel, The Capitol Hotel Tokyu.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Tokyo, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Tokyo typically costs somewhere between US$40+ and US$120 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Tokyo from the open top of a bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs).

- Attend a traditional tea ceremony, an integral part of Japanese culture, in Tokyo to perceive its sophisticated philosophy and to soak up the atmosphere and cultural highlights of this fascinating city with the help of a local guide on a jam-packed day of sightseeing in Japanese capital.

- Another good chance to absorb Tokyo's atmosphere within a shortest possible time is a 4-hour morning sightseeing tour embracing all of the city’s top highlights including major historic sights, shopping districts and otherwise colorful areas. Ideal for those on a first-time or short visit to Tokyo.

- Forget skyscrapers and transgress into the old-time, slow-paced Tokyo on a 3.5-hour guided walk through Yanaka, the historic part of the city dating back to the the Edo period, replete with charming temples and cherry blossom trees.

- Pedal your way around Tokyo on a 3-hour E-assist bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights and some hidden spots that you otherwise wouldn't have found or reached by public transport, stopping from time to time at some of the sights for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions en route from a knowledgeable group leader.

- No visit to Tokyo is complete without savoring authentic Japanese cuisine. Embark on a night food tour of Tokyo to appreciate the city’s nighttime culinary scene by getting a generous dollop of delectable local treats from selected pubs and restaurants under the watchful guidance of a local expert.

Day Trips


If you have a day to spare whilst in Tokyo, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi, Nikko National Park, Kamakura and Tokyo Bay, or Hakone. For as little as circa US$100 to US$300 per person you will get a chance to discover highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and Japan’s other most famous locations, explore the breathtaking countryside outside Tokyo including one of the best sightseeing spots in the country with lots of hot springs, visit the centuries-old center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship, see the Great Buddha statue, tour the ancient temples and scenic shrines, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Tokyo, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, bullet train (Shinkansen), boat, or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.