The Best Art Museums in Tokyo

The National Art Center Places to visit in Tokyo

Tokyo boasts a number of famous art museums and galleries that allow you to understand the country from cultural and artistic perspectives. Each of them showcases a large collection of masterpieces from the ancient times to the modern ones such as contemporary art, creating a vibrant diversity in its art culture which has been changing throughout its long history. Exploring the impressive art museums could be a unique experience for you that makes your time here in Japan more enjoyable than just visiting popular tourist attractions. In this article, we will introduce the best art museums in Tokyo!     

1. National Museum of Western Art

National Museum of Western Art is widely recognized as one of the most popular art museums in Japan it opened in 1954. It houses a large collection of renowned exhibits and artworks mainly based on Matsukata Collection, which was donated and returned from the French government. It includes Impressionist paintings and Auguste Rodin’s sculptures, and they also dedicate themselves to a range of activities such as extensive research on western art, preservation, restoration, and educational programs aiming to provide the public with an opportunity to get familiar with western art.

Enjoy their permanent collection which covers valuable paintings and sculptures by western artists. The audio guide helps you understand the exhibits with informative guidance available in English, Chinese, and Korean. Special exhibits are occasionally held with world-famous artworks which always draw huge crowds!

Opening Hours

9:30am – 5:30pm, 9:30am – 8pm (Friday & Saturday)

Admission ¥500 (adult) ¥250 (university student)
How to get there Short walk from JR Ueno Station

2. Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is another famous art museum located in Ueno Park. In 1926, it was originally opened as the first public art museum in Japan and has been serving as a center of both domestic and international art, aiming to help people take their first step into the world of art more easily. With the new building completed in 1975, it continues to organize and hold promotional events with valuable exhibits of contemporary art. After 2 years of renovation from 2010 to 2012, it reopened to the public with new facilities including a modern restaurant and gift shop. 

Opening Hours

9:30am – 5:30pm

Admission free (an additional fee is applied for exhibitions)
How to get there 7 min walk from JR Ueno Station

3. The University Art Museum

The University Art Museum is a unique one that is run by the Tokyo University of the Arts, a national institute that offers high-class education for talented students who dedicate themselves to art to bring new masterpieces into the world. The cozy, small gallery allows you to take a close look at each of the great artworks in a peaceful atmosphere. It is open to the public only when special exhibits are held. Please visit their website below to check out if there is any exhibit available during your visit!

Opening Hours

※Could vary for each exhibition
※generally closed when they have no exhibitions

Admission ※Could vary for each exhibition
How to get there 10 min walk from JR Ueno Station, 10 min walk from Nezu Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)

4. The Ueno Royal Museum

If you are planning to visit Ueno Park, it is worth considering spending some time at The Ueno Royal Museum which is conveniently situated in the park along with other art museums and cultural attractions. Since its opening in 1972, it attracts a number of visitors with unique exhibitions which are regularly held throughout the year. It includes “the Ueno Royal Museum Grand Prize Exhibition”, “the Japanese Nature Painting Exhibition”, and the VOCA Exhibition. From October 2019 to January 2020, it hosted a special exhibition featuring Vincent Van Gogh, which successfully attracted numerous visitors with world-class paintings done by the genius. Check their exhibition schedule here for more information about the exhibitions currently available!

Opening Hours

10am – 5pm

Admission ※Could vary for each exhibition
How to get there 3 min walk from JR Ueno station

5. The National Museum of Modern Art

Established as the first national art museum in Japan, The National Museum of Modern Art was originally built in the Chuo ward and later moved to the ground of Kitanomaru park which is situated within walking distance from Takebashi station on Tozai Line. It houses approximately 13,000 collections of artworks including traditional paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs from the late Meiji period to the present day. Enjoy the impressive works by famous Japanese artists such as Yokoyama Taikan, Kishida Ryusei, and Hishida Shunso. 

“MOMAT Collection” fascinates visitors with 200 important works carefully selected from the extraordinary collection!

(Subway Tozai Line)

Opening Hours

10am – 5pm, 10am – 8pm (Friday & Saturday)

Admission (permanent exhibits) ¥500 (adult) ¥250 (university student)
How to get there 3 min walk from Takebashi Station

6. Tokyo Station Gallery

Tokyo Station Gallery is a small art museum which is located in JR Tokyo Station. Since 1988, it has served as a symbolic gallery that offers great opportunities for people using the metropolitan station to stop by and spend their time appreciating the art more closely. It features a large collection of exhibits which includes modern art, contemporary art, architecture, design, and even some works associated with the railway. The temporary exhibits are rotated every few months, making the gallery worth visiting repeatedly with different exhibits offering new discoveries! 

Opening Hours

10am – 6pm,10am – 8pm (Friday)
※closed on Monday
Admission ※Could vary for each exhibition
How to get there Located just outside the ticket gates at JR Tokyo station’s “Marunouchi North Exit”

7. Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum is a private museum administrated by Mitsubishi Group, one of the most influential and largest companies in Japan. The main building is a restoration based on the design of the original office building which was built during the Meiji period. It was known as the first western-style office building in the Marunouchi district designed by Josiah Conder, a British architect involved in the construction of several historical buildings during the period. The exhibits mainly focus on contemporary arts which flourished in the 19th century, and one of the highlights is authentic works by Toulouse Lautrec, a world-famous French painter. Although they don’t currently have permanent exhibits you can enjoy appreciating the works at special exhibitions which are regularly held three times every year. Visit their website to find out more!

Opening Hours

10am – 6pm
※closed on Monday

Admission ※Could vary for each exhibition
How to get there 5 min walk from the Marunouchi South Exit of JR Tokyo Station

8. Toyo Bunko Museum

Toyo Bunko Museum Morrison Stacks 東洋文庫ミュージアム モリソン書庫

Toyo Bunko is a research institute that specializes in the study of Asian history and culture. With about 90 years of history, it is recognized as one of the five largest Asian study institutes in the world. Toyo Bunko Museum was opened in 2011 aiming to provide opportunities for the public to get a better understanding of oriental history and culture. The exhibits include a collection of priceless books and resources that are stored at Toyo Bunko. “Morrison’s Stacks” is one of the highlights that mainly consists of 24,000 historical books and paintings purchased by Iwasaki Hisaya, the founder of Toyo Bunko, from G.E Morrison, an Australian journalist. “The Iwasaki Collection” refers to a special room that houses national treasures, important cultural properties, and masterpieces of Ukiyo-e owned by the Iwasaki family. Take the “Alley of Wisdom” which leads to “Orient Cafe” offering light meals, or have a look at memorable products at a gift shop called “Marco Polo Shop”!

Opening Hours

10am – 5pm ※closed on Monday

Admission ¥900 (adult) ¥800 (65+) ¥700 (university student) ¥600 (junior high/ high school student)¥290 (elementary school student)
How to get there 8 min walk from Komagome Station (JR Yamanote or Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line)

9. Mori Art Museum

Mori Art Museum is a modern art museum located on the 53rd floor of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. It is widely known as an indoor exhibit space that stands at the highest place in Japan at 230 meters above sea level! It showcases impressive exhibits mainly focusing on contemporary art. It includes paintings, photographs, architects, and sculptures mainly from Japan or other Asian-Pacific regions. They don’t have permanent collections but organize temporary exhibitions which fascinate visitors with a large number of displays and valuable works. It also features works by young Asian artists, which give them an opportunity to showcase their achievements to the public. Enjoy the unique, inspiring exhibits with a stunning view of the metropolitan city!

Opening Hours

10am – 10pm (Mon, Wed-Sunday) 10am – 5pm (Tuesday)

Admission ¥2,000 (adult) ¥1,700 (65+) ¥1,300 (university / high school student) ¥700 (aged 4 – junior high school student)
How to get there 3 min walk from Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)

10. The National Art Center

The National Art Center opened in 2007 as the 5th national art museum in Japan. It is claimed as one of the largest exhibition spaces covering approximately 14,000 square meters. It is rather a venue without permanent collections, which means they host a variety of special exhibitions that can be rotated ad replaced regularly. The main building consists of 4 floors and one basement, making it the largest art museum in Japan. The exterior design of the building itself is impressive and also worth a visit. It can host several exhibits at the same time with 12 galleries providing enough space for each display. It is also a perfect spot to have a light meal or relaxing coffee experience at one restaurant and 3 cafes. The glass walls of the building naturally take in the sunlight that warmly embraces the whole building! 

(Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)

Opening Hours

10am – 6pm
※closed on Tuesday

Admission
※Could vary for each exhibition
How to get there Direct access from Exit 6 of Nogizaka Station

11. 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT

21_21 DESIGN SIGHT is a modern, unique design museum located in Tokyo Midtown. The main building was designed by Tadao Ando, a world-famous Japanese architect. The attractive exterior itself is a piece of art, and worth to spend time taking a close look at the details. The basic concept of the museum is “See the world from a design point of view and find a way to enrich our daily lives”. It offers a wide range of opportunities for visitors to appreciate the pleasures of design and discover today’s contemporary art scene in Tokyo. Most of the building is buried underground, and the space is used as a venue for exhibitions. Three designers are the directors of the institution, and various designers are assigned as directors of exhibitions, which are held two to three times a year.

Opening Hours

10am – 7pm(Last admission 6:30pm)
※closed on Tuesday

Admission ¥1,200 (adult) ¥800 (university student) ¥500 (high school student)
Free admission for junior high school student and under
How to get there 5 min walk from either of the stations below:
Roppongi station (Toei Oedo Line / Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line) 
Nogizaka station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)

Let’s visit museums with Grutto Pass!

There is a chance to get admission tickets and special discounts for popular art museums at a reasonable price! “Grutto Pass” is an e-ticket that includes admission or discount tickets to 101 cultural facilities such as museums, gardens, galleries, and also botanical gardens, zoos, and aquariums around Tokyo.
It can be purchased online, and it’s valid for 2 months.

The facilities you can visit with the pass for free include Ueno Zoo, Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens, Hamarikyu Garden, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Rikugien Garden, Sumida Hokusai Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, and so on.
There are also some facilities that you can use the pass in the adjacent prefectures like Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures.

Price: ¥2,500
※Available for 2 months from the date when you first use it.
You can purchase the pass from April 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023

Tokyo Museum Grutto Pass 2022 Official Website

Art Tours in Tokyo

Tour to enjoy the works by Taro Okamoto, the legendary Japanese artist
Start the tour from the concourse of Shibuya Station where Taro Okamoto’s one of the best creations “Myth of tomorrow”. We will learn the contents of this gigantic wall painting inspired by Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica”. We also enjoy Taro’s old house and atelier in Minami Aoyama where he lived for more than 20 years.

Private Tour – Explore Modern and Historic Art in Omotesando
Art lovers visiting Tokyo—this is the tour for you! Save hours of research time and get a guide’s shortlist of modern and historic art spots in Omotesando. Explore multiple neighborhoods including Harajuku, and Aoyama, and stop off at museums, attractions, and exhibitions along the way. Highlights include visiting Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Design Festa Gallery Harajuku, and the Spiral Garden.

Omotesando Tokyo Plaza shopping

Private Tour – History, Art and Nature at the Imperial Palace
This private tour takes you to many important places in Tokyo to experience incredible art, learn about Tokyo’s history, and appreciate scenic nature spots too. Save time planning your own itinerary and benefit from a guide’s expertise and local knowledge. The tour goes to the Imperial Palace, Wadakura Fountain Park, the National Museum of Modern Art Crafts Gallery, Kitanomaru Park, and much more

Imperial Palace

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