Tokyo is up there with the great art cities of the world with many excellent art museums to choose from. We've collected the best with information on how to visit each one.
Tokyo Photographic Art Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
The List: Tokyo’s Recommended Art Museums
From traditional Japanese wood blocks to the most cutting edge digital work, Tokyo buzzes with artistic activity and these collections are often housed in stunning buildings. Click on the place names for more information about each gallery, including information on how to visit.
With its stunning architecture, superb art collection, and landscape garden, there’s something to thrill anyone visiting the Nezu Museum in Aoyama.
Nezu Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
With its striking red-brick facade, the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum is an iconic landmark in the Marunouchi area. Even if you don’t attend an exhibition, you can still relax in the garden out front.
Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
Architecture enthusiasts and lovers of Art Deco should not miss a visit to Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. Lovers of gardens and sculpture will also delight at the museum grounds - and the inexpensive entrance fee.
Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
If you’re a fan of contemporary art, head over to the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Gaienmae to check out their latest exhibition - as well as the stunning building that houses all the modern art.
Watari Museum of Contemporary Art - image © Florentyna Leow
The Sumida Hokusai Museum is a small museum dedicated to the master of Japanese wood block prints (think of “The Wave”). It’s interesting, but probably best for serious fans only.
Sumida Hokusai Museum exterior - image © Chris Rowthorn
The Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills is hardly a secret spot - but it is one of the best contemporary art museums in Tokyo, and has one of the best views of the city to boot.
Mori Art Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
The world of Japanese photography is an exciting, dynamic one - and the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum in Meguro is the place to delve into its depths.
Tokyo Photographic Art Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in Shinagawa, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art houses a strong collection of post-1950s art including works by Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara, and Mark Rothko. It’s a must-visit for fans of art, and a lovely green respite from urban Tokyo to boot.
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art - image © Florentyna Leow
Tokyo’s newest, hottest museum is dedicated entirely to digital art, and it's the first of its kind.
Standing in front of a wall of digital flowers. - image © Florentyna Leow
For lovers of traditional Japanese art, there are few better museums in Tokyo. View the best of arts ranging from lacquerware to glass at the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi.
Suntory Museum of Art - image © Florentyna Leow
Traveling to Japan just to visit… the National Museum of Western Art in Ueno? With an excellent collection of works including painters from Monet and Van Gogh to Pollock and Picasso, this is an institution art lovers won’t want to miss.
The National Museum of Western Art - image © Florentyna Leow
Though small and unassuming, the Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Art Museum in Harajuku is a gem of a museum for Japanese art lovers. Fans of woodblock prints will find much to delight them here.
Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Art Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
Located in a charming, quiet neighborhood in Shibuya, the Toguri Museum of Art is a must-visit for those interested in Asian ceramics - particularly old porcelain.
Toguri Museum of Art - image © Florentyna Leow
With an impressive 15,000 works of art in their private collection, there’s always something new to see at the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in Marunouchi.
Idemitsu Museum of Arts - image © Florentyna Leow
Shibuya isn’t just all about the shopping or clubbing. Get your art and culture fix at the excellent Bunkamura The Museum.
Bunkamura The Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno holds fabulous exhibitions featuring Japanese and non-Japanese art. Just make sure you know which gallery you’re heading to.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum - image © Florentyna Leow
The Kurosawa Kishō-designed National Art Center Tokyo in Roppongi may be best known for its architecture, but the special exhibitions there are no less impressive. If you’re short on cash, check out the free exhibitions instead.
National Art Center Tokyo - image © Florentyna Leow
Art galleries abound in Ginza, but the Ginza Graphic Gallery is the only one in the neighbourhood specializing entirely in graphic design. Worth a visit for design geeks.
Ginza Graphic Gallery - image © Florentyna Leow
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals. Check my guides to arriving at Narita Airport and at Haneda Airport.
- If you're visiting more than one city, you might save money with a Japan Rail Pass – see if it's worth it for you
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world