Japan’s vibrant art scene has triggered a wave of museum openings across the country in recent years. Tokyo’s cultural vibe is now mentioned in the same breath as New York and Paris, making Japan a hot spot for art enthusiasts.
The country offers a wide range of museums, each showcasing the diverse artistry of Japan. We’ve selected five of our favorite art museums, offering a blend of traditional and modern art. Get read to explore Japan’s unique, ever-evolving art scene!
And if you’re traveling in Japan and would like to explore in the company of passionate, bilingual locals, why not consider booking a place on one of our Japan City Tours for the Culturally Curious.
Sumida Hokusai Museum, Tokyo
The allure of Hokusai’s timeless ukiyo-e (woodblock print) artistry finds a home in the heart of Tokyo at the Sumida Hokusai Museum. Renowned for masterpieces like The Great Wave Off Kanagawa and Red Fuji from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, Hokusai’s artistry remains etched in the global artistic panorama.
The museum, found in the eastern part of Tokyo, pays homage to the iconic artist with a permanent gallery showcasing a rich collection of Hokusai prints. While the art transports you back to the 18th and 19th centuries, the museum’s architecture is bold and ultramodern. Crafted by the acclaimed architect Kazuyo Sejima, the building is a captivating juxtaposition, bridging the artistic past of Japan with its contemporary architectural prowess.
Looking for other things to do in Tokyo? Why not join us for a Tokyo Food Tour?
⭑ Sumida Hokusai Museum, 2 Chome-7-2 Kamezawa, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0014
Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka
Located in the heart of Fukuoka, the closest major Japanese city to mainland Asia, the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum is a treasure trove of Asian artistry. Since its establishment in 1999, the museum has curated a rich permanent collection of around 3,000 modern and contemporary artworks, showcasing the vibrant tapestry of Asian cultures.
The collection, representing twenty-three countries from Indonesia to Mongolia, is displayed on rotation, ensuring a unique experience with each visit.
Alongside its permanent collection, the museum hosts a dynamic range of temporary exhibitions, offering a window into the evolving movements within Asian art.
⭑ FAAM, 7 & 8th Floor, Riverain Center Bldg., 3-1 Shimokawabata-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City
The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (MoMAK)
The National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, or MoMAK, is found in Japan’s old capital. Since its inception in 1963, MoMAK has been a platform for both Japanese and international contemporary art, with a special emphasis on the creative pulse of the Kansai region.
The museum’s Collection Gallery, showcasing a vast array of intriguing works, is in a constant state of rotation, inviting visitors to delve into fresh artworks in a dizzying array of styles and mediums throughout the year. Through its compelling temporary exhibitions, MoMAK continues to provide unrivaled insights into modern-day artistic perspectives.
Hoping to explore Kyoto’s history? Join Pinpoint Traveler for our Higashiyama Walking Tour.
⭑ MoMAK, 26-1 Okazaki Enshojicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8344
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
The Mori Art Museum in Tokyo occupies the 52nd and 53rd floors of the towering Roppongi Hills building. Known for its ceaseless innovation, the museum keeps its exhibits fresh and engaging by not housing a permanent collection. Instead, it boasts a revolving door of temporary installations and artworks that mirror the dynamic nature of modern art.
If you want to see Tokyo through the eyes of a local, consider joining us on our Asakusa and Old Tokyo Tour.
⭑ Mori Art Museum, 53F, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, Tokyo, 106-6150
Miho Museum, Koka
Tucked away in the serene hills west of central Koka is the enchanting Miho Museum. The brainchild of architect I. M. Pei, the Miho Museum is a blend of architectural innovation and natural splendor. Its approach, a blend of man-made and natural elements, sets the tone for what lies within. The interior contrasts steel and glass with warm stone while offering panoramic vistas of the lush valleys beyond.
The museum’s collection is a journey through time, with artifacts from ancient civilizations like Egypt, Rome, and various Asian cultures. The main exhibit, largely sourced from founder Mihoko Koyama’s private collection, morphs annually, while special exhibitions bring new themes to light every few months.
The Miho Museum is only a short trip from Kyoto. If you’re in Kyoto and want to explore the city on a tour led by locals, consider one of our Kyoto Walking Tours.
⭑ Miho Museum, 300 Momodani; Tashiro Shigaraki Koka; Shiga 529-1814
Exploring the heart of Japan through its diverse museums offers a journey like no other. Each museum, with its unique artistic focus, unveils a different facet of Japan’s rich cultural landscape. From the modern vibes of Tokyo’s art scene to Fukuoka’s Asian art hub, there’s a myriad of artistic landscapes waiting to be explored.
The harmonious blend of the old with the new, tradition with modernity, and the local with the international makes Japan’s top museums must-visit sites for any art enthusiast.
If you have any questions, please get in touch.