We are lucky to have a rich variety of traditional and modern arts and crafts museums and galleries all across the country in Japan. Taking in some of the local art is a great way of exploring and understanding a bit more about any places you may visit. If you live in one of our Village House apartments in these areas, please make the most of having these art hotspots nearby!
Tokyo and Kyoto are the two most famous spots for taking in art. In both cities, there is a great mix of galleries featuring all kinds of art from the ancient to the most contemporary. Apart from these, most of the other major cities in Japan, such as Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Yokohama all have plenty of museums, sculpture parks, and galleries.
Naoshima Art Island (Naoshima, Seto Inland Sea)
Naoshima, known as the “art island” is one of the world’s most scenic contemporary art destinations. It is home to one of Yayoi Kusama’s most iconic sculptures, a yellow pumpkin with her trademark polka dots.
Naoshima is part of the Benesse Art Site. If you visit Naoshima Art Island, we recommend also stopping by the neighboring islands of Teshima and Inujima, which are also part of the Benesse Art Site. You can easily spend at least a day exploring Naoshima since there are a few museums and galleries not to be missed, such as the Art House Project and Chichu Art Museum. Many visitors will also spend another half day exploring Teshima, and the Teshima Art Museum, and another half day exploring Inujima.
The Setouchi Triennale is an exciting time on Naoshima Art Island, as well as 11 other islands on the Seto Inland Sea. There is endless art to see in the 105 days of the triennale, in Spring (April-May), Summer (August-September), and autumn (September-November). During the Triennale, the art islands can, however, get very crowded.
TeamLab Planets (Tokyo)
TeamLab is a collective known across the World as a pioneer of digital art. If you’ve yet to see any digital art, we recommend coming here to be transformed into a magical and beautiful new world. This immersive museum experiments with nature and technology combined.
TeamLab Planets will probably be the most futuristic art destination you’ve ever visited. A water area with koi projections, a floating flower installation, and the iconic light rainforest are just some of the exciting interactive installations you’ll come across.
When going, make sure to wear shorts or a skirt as you will be wading through the water. However, there are also some floor mirrors so you may want to pack shorts if you are wearing a skirt or dress. You can also ask a staff member for rental shorts, which are available for free.
If you’re going to teamLab Planets, we recommend getting some food at their vegan ramen restaurant nearby for some delicious and filling food. It is also a very Instagrammable location, so make sure to bring your smartphone or camera!
Echigo-Tsumari Art Field (Chubu, Niigata)
Echigo-Tsumari Art Field is the giant of the art destinations in Japan. This magnificent display consists of a 760km2 field with over 200 art installations.
Echigo-Tsumari Art Field looks beautiful at all times of the year, many people even go to take in the art in the snowy months.
A Triennale is held with artwork spread across the field and nearby rural areas. There are also performances held in some of the nearby villages.
Kiyotsu Gorge (Chubu, Niigata)
You may have already come across photos of the highly photogenic Kiyotsu Gorge on social media or travel blogs. This breathtaking spot of natural beauty was already a known spot to appreciate beautiful nature, however, it was transformed in 2018 when it was chosen as one of the locations for the Echigo-Tsumari Trienniale.
Kiyotsu Gorge now features a permanent art installation called the “Tunnel of Light” which serves as a beautiful reminder of how something crafted can blend with and highlight the beauty of the natural world.
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art (Toyota, Aichi)
Containing works from a combination of both Japanese artists and Western artists, the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art attracts art lovers from across the country and the World. Japanese artists such as Imamura Shiko, Kishida Ryusei, and Nara Yoshitomo are displayed at the museum.
The museum is also renowned for its special exhibitions held several times each year, as well as its smaller shows featuring young contemporary artists. Some of the Western artists featured include Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch, and Constantine Brancusi.
The architecture of the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art is also a sight to behold. Yoshio Taniguchi, one of Japan’s famous architects designed the space. He is also responsible for the renovation of the MoMA in New York. The building is a beautiful display of restrained modernism, designed in a way that makes use of the natural light in the exhibition rooms.
Japan is full of so many beautiful art destinations, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. So, please make the most of your local art galleries and museums. Visiting these is a great way of keeping occupied in the colder months and when it’s raining! They might even inspire you to make some of your own art!