Whether you prefer traditional exhibitions, art festivals, magical museums or awe-inspiring street sculptures, Tokyo has the art scene covered—and at a far more reasonable price than most capital cities.
The Major Art Galleries
Home to four exceptional primary galleries, there is no shortage of exhibitions and permanent collections to visit in the capital, often for free. The National Museum of Modern Art (MOMAT) is the place to go for all things creative as it not only holds great exhibitions with a strong permanent collection, but it is also home to the National Film Center and Craft Gallery. With MOMAT free on the 1st Sunday of every month and the National Museum of Western Art free on the 2nd and 4th, you’ll be spoiled for cheap choices.
The Unusual Options
If traditional exhibitions aren’t for you, the immersive Studio Ghibli Museum is a wonderful adventure into the imagination of Miyazaki and includes a screening of short films shown nowhere else in the world. There’s also the Advertising Museum which showcases posters and campaigns from throughout the years, and the Suginami Animation Museum which takes you through the ages of anime. For a more local approach, then head over to the DesignFesta site for some independent creativity, or hit up TeamLab’s latest project for a blend of creativity and technology. Famous names like Hokusai and Yayoi Kusama have their own dedicated museums while Yokohama is a perfect Arty day trip.
Street art and Architecture
If you prefer your art with a breeze and some sun, the options for street art ranging from sculptures to graffiti are endless. Take a walk along the river near Tokyo Tower to see the GTS project’s 12 contemporary pieces or hunt down the works of prestigious artists Taro Okamoto and George Rhoads which are scattered across the city. Miyazaki’s “Really LARGE Clock” is also wonder to behold, with giant spiders and at least two towering Godzillas also worth spotting. And don’t forget some of the most impressive works of art come in building form—a half-day walking tour in Omotesando gives you some epic sites, along with our hitlist of the city’s top ten architectural creations. These days, even Tokyo’s toilets are now works of art, so you can’t help but see something good!
Check out our mega-guide to the best galleries in Tokyo and the ten best free art galleries for more!