Tokyo has countless art museums, many of which are not well known or easy to find from an online search. This article is for those who are interested in going beyond the usual suspects, such as the Nezu Museum, Suntory Museum or the museums in Ueno.
1. Mitsui Memorial Museum
This museum always presents high quality pieces of Japanese art. Like the Nezu museum, this is a museum of the highest quality. Some of the exhibitions may be around less familiar themes, for example noh masks, and can be an interesting learning opportunity.
2. Idemitsu Museum of Arts
This museum is similar to the Mitsui Memorial.
3. Yamatane Museum of Art
This beautiful museum presents modern nihonga Japanese art of the highest quality. I do not go to Tokyo without visiting these first three museums.
4. Toguri Museum of Art
For those interested in ceramics, the Toguri museum is a lesser-known, great museum with interesting exhibitions of Japanese ceramics.
5. Mitsuo Aida Museum
This museum near Tokyo station is dedicated to one famous Japanese calligraphy artist.
6. Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art
I have only been to this museum once, but the exhibition dedicated to Kawai Kanjiro I saw was remarkable.
7. Kodansha Noma Memorial Museum
This is a wonderful museum of Modern Japanese art. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed for renovation.
8. Century Museum
This is a small museum dedicated to calligraphy and Buddhist sculpture where you are likely to be the only visitor. I suggest that you look out for these quality, off the beaten path museums in Japan.
There are so many more exciting museums in Tokyo that you should visit, including Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art, Gotoh Museum, Eisei Bunko Museum, Ota Memorial Museum of Art, municipal museums, as well as many more that I have not yet discovered.
Not unlike Japanese restaurants, Tokyo does not have a monopoly on quality museums in Japan. For example, in Hakone alone, there are brilliant museums that can rival Japanese collections anywhere else in the world. I hope that this list will provide a good introduction for those interested in fine Japanese art, ceramics and calligraphy.
The only true voyage of discovery would be not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes.
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Art Museums in Tokyo