The Yamatane Museum of Art is a private art museum in Ebisu. It specializes in a style of painting called nihonga, which uses traditional Japanese painting techniques and materials.

If you are interested in nihonga, then the Yamatane’s collection is considered very good. There’s no permanent exhibition; instead, thematic exhibitions are staged several times a year, drawing from the permanent collection.

What should I see at the Yamatane Museum of Art?

The Yamatane’s collection includes some famous works of nihonga, such as Dancing in the Flames and Camellia Petals Scattering, by Hayami Gyoshū (1894–1934), and Tabby Cat, by Takeuchi Seihō (1864–1942). The selection of works on display depends on the current exhibition, which is often seasonal. However, there are usually at least two or three famous works included in each exhibition.

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How much time do I need to see the Yamatane Museum of Art?

Exhibitions are compact enough to see in a couple of hours. Make a whole morning or afternoon out of it with a stop in the Yamatane’s cafe. Cafe Tsubaki serves original wagashi (Japanese-style sweets), from nearby Kikuya in Aoyama, that are inspired by some of the museum’s famous paintings. A sweets set with matcha costs ¥1,250.

What is nihonga?

Nihonga is Japanese-style painting, as opposed to yōga (Western-style painting). The distinction dates to the late 19th century, when Western-style techniques and materials (like oil paints and canvas) were broadly introduced into Japan. Nihonga makes use of materials traditionally used in Japanese painting, such as washi paper or silk, and paints blended from natural pigments and a kind of animal glue. Works may employ traditional themes, or reference the style or styles of one of Japan’s longstanding art schools, such as the Kanō school, but this is not always the case.