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digital art museum in Tokyo called TeamLab
Toyama Glass Museum
Yayoi Kusama Museum in Tokyo
family seal called Kamon

Art & Design

Museums and Galleries

Japan offers many excellent art museums that showcase the country’s rich culture and history. The majority of the large and well-known galleries such as Tokyo’s National Art Center are found in Japan’s larger cities, however you can find captivating artistic showings across all regions of the country. Japan’s art scene spans many mediums including paintings, photography, sculpture, architecture, tattoo, crafts, and so much more. Exploring the resources below can hopefully help you to plan for and enjoy Japan’s Art & Design offerings that have been highly rated by visitors.

Recommended Resources

Traditional Art

Nezu Museum, Tokyo

The Nezu Museum, passionately built by Nezu Kaichirō (1860-1940), exhibits pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art. Since its opening, the museum's collection has expanded to approximately 7,400 works, including seven National Treasures, 87 Important Cultural Properties, and 94 Important Art Objects. Both the building itself and the surrounding gardens are must-sees.


The Sumida Hokusai Museum Tokyo 

Katsushika Hokusai, a world-renowned ukiyo-e artist, was born in Tokyo in 1760. He spent almost 90 years in the Sumida Ward, creating many masterpieces. The Sumida Hokusai Museum’s collection showcases his life and the relationship between Hokusai and Sumida through high-definition life-sized replicas of representative works and related episodes.


Idemitsu Art Museum Tokyo

The Idemitsu Museum of Arts was opened in 1966 on the 9th floor of the Imperial Theater Building as an exhibition hall for the Idemitsu Collection. In addition to their year-round exhibits, specially-themed exhibitions are held about five to six times yearly. Each special exhibit features selected works from the Idemitsu Collection, such as Japanese paintings, calligraphy, and East Asian ceramics.


Ota Memorial Museum of Art Tokyo

The Ota Memorial Museum of Art is one of the world-leading private ukiyo-e collections. The museum’s main feature consists of 12,000 pieces collected enthusiastically by Late Seizō Ota, the former president of Tōhō Insurance Company.  His group is known for the masterpieces of ukiyo-e and nikuhitsu-ga paintings and ukiyo-e woodblock prints. These are two substantial portions of ukiyo-e, which make this location a must-see for those interested in this art style.

Traditonal Art
Modern/Contempoary Museum

Modern/Contemporary Museum

Yayoi Kusama Museum Tokyo

Yayoi is one of the most prominent contemporary artists in Japan. Her most well-known pieces are sculptural and installations; however, she also has trendy paintings, performances, films, fashion, poetry, and fiction available for viewing at the museum.  

There are several locations where you can enjoy her artwork throughout Japan:


Mori Art Museum Tokyo

The Moro Art Museum is located on the top floor of a high-rise building. Here you can see temporary contemporary art installations from Japan and other countries. Check their website for current exhibits and artist information.


Odawara Art Foundation Kanagawa Prefecture

The Foundation is located on the outer rim of the Hakone Mountains overlooking Sagami Bay. This place comes from the vision of the contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. Here you can find something for every art lover, from classical theater arts to avant-garde stage art. 


Adachi Museum of Art Shimane Prefecture

The collection of modern Japanese paintings at the Adachi Museum of Art is highly regarded. The Museum houses numerous masterpieces by great masters who established the modern Japanese art world, such as Yokoyama Taikan, Takeuchi Seiho, Uemura Shoen, Hashimoto Kansetsu, Kawabata Ryushi, Sakakibara Shiho, and Ito Shinsui. This museum is also well known for its beautiful Japanese garden.


Iwate Museum of Art Iwate Prefecture

The Iwate Museum of Art focuses centrally on three influential modern Japanese artists: Tetsugoro Yorozu, Shunsuke Matsumoto, and Yasutake Funakoshi. They were either born to or spent significant years in the beautiful prefecture of Iwate. The museum has recently undergone construction updates and offers new temporary exhibits. Check their website for updates to their exhibits or upcoming events.

Akita Museum of Art Akita Prefecture 

This museum exhibits the works of Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita, a Japanese–French painter and printmaker known for his Japanese ink techniques applied to Western-style paintings. He has been called "the most important Japanese artist working in the West during the 20th century." The museum’s building has also garnered much recognition as the designer is the international architect Tadao Ando. Ando has received many awards, such as the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the Japan Order of Culture. 


Pola Museum of Art Kanagawa Prefecture

If you’re looking for a wide range of art styles and experiences, including some names you’ve probably heard of before, the Pola Museum of Art may be for you. The museum’s collection offers a mixture of European paintings, Western-style Japanese paintings, and sculptures. The artists featured include Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita, and Sugiyama Yasushi. If you go, don’t forget to walk on their beautiful nature trail.


Yamaguchi Prefecture Art Museum Yamaguchi Prefecture

The Yamaguchi Prefecture Art Museum is home to a mixture of Japanese traditional art, modern art, and photography. Its collections include Japanese paintings by Toyo Sesshu, Kansai Mori, Hogai Kano, Yasuo Kazuki, Shohei Matsuda, and Wasaku Kobayashi, as well as sculptures by Shigeru Ueki and Kiichi Sumikawa and even photographs by Katsuji Fukuda, Tadahiko Hayashi, and other representative photographers from postwar Japan.


Hiroshima Art Museum Hiroshima Prefecture

The museum's collection includes over 300 world-class modern Western paintings, Western-style Japanese paintings, and Japanese paintings. They are internationally renowned for their quality works by Cezanne, Monet, Degas, Van Goh, Picasso, Dufy, Matisse, Chagall, Asai, Chu, Kuroda Seiki, Kishida Ryusei, Umemura Shoen, Hashimoto Kanestu, Yokoyama Taikai, etc.


Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto Kumamoto Prefecture

The Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto displays contemporary art pieces, offering world-class exhibitions from home and abroad. It is also committed to introducing artists currently active in Kumamoto and Kyushu Island.


The Museum of Art Kochi Kochi Prefecture

The Museum of Art collection, Kochi, includes more than 41,000 works by approximately 440 artists from Japan and abroad. Some of the most influential artists in the museum's collection are Ishimoto Yasuhiro (a photographer), Marc Chagall, and Wassily Kandinsky. Max Pechstein, Paul Klee, and George Grosz, to name just a few.


Ohara Museum of Art Okayama Prefecture

The Ohara Museum of Art expands the collection to include modern and contemporary art from the West and Japan and artists who served the Mingei Movement (Japanese Folk Art Movement). You can see the masterpieces by El Greco, Gauguin, Monet, Matisse, and other artists.



Tokyo Photographic Art Museum Tokyo

The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum holds a vast treasure trove of exhibitions throughout the year in its three galleries. Each gallery offers about 500 square meters of exhibition space used for a wide variety of events, including presentations and screenings that showcase the approximately 33,000 photographs and other visual media in the museum’s collection.


Ken Domon Museum of Photography Yamagata Prefecture

Located in the Yamagata Prefecture, The Ken Domon Museum is the first Japanese museum dedicated solely to photographs and is the only photography museum in the world built for an individual. Ken Domon is from Yamagata prefecture and is one of the representative photographers of postwar Japan. He took realistic news photos, portraits, and snapshots of famous and ordinary people, and pictures of cultural assets such as temples and Buddhist statues. Within the museum, you can see over 70,000 pieces of his photographic work. 


Fuji Film Showroom Tokyo

The famous Japanese Fuji Film Company has developed this showroom. The space offers a range of exhibits and events on everything photography. You can enjoy free temporary exhibitions and a permanent display of precious antique cameras as much as 170 years old. 

Unique Art Museums

Unique Art Museums

Team Lab

There is simply no other art museum-like Team Lab. These digital art museums offer a mesmerizing experience of lights, movement, and vivid colors to experience with all of your senses. There are currently several locations throughout Japan. They are a must-see.


Miho Museum Shiga Prefecture

The collection of art at the Moho Museum was started by the founder Mihoko Koyama, and is designed to achieve her vision. The collection includes a wide range of Japanese art and ancient art from Egypt, Western Asia, Greece, Rome, Southern Asia, and China. The museum was designed by architect I.M. Pei, renowned for the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris. It was inspired by the ethereal utopia described in the Taohua Yuan Ji (The Peach Blossom Spring), an ancient Chinese work written by Tao Yuanming.


Museum of Ichiku Kubota Yamanashi Prefecture

Itchiku Kubota was a Japanese textile artist. He is credited with reviving and modernizing a lost late-15th- to early-16th-century textile dyeing and decorating technique called Tsujigahana. The Museum of Ichiku Kubota was built late in Kubota’s life in an idealistic location overseeing Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. The pyramid structure of the museum was built using thousand-year-old beams and houses multiple exhibit wings, as well as a tearoom that serves tea and sweets.


The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka Osaka Prefecture

The Museum of Oriental Ceramics hosts a collection that includes Japanese Korean, Chinese, and other Asian ceramics. Two particularly noteworthy works are registered as National Treasures and the thirteenth most Important Cultural Properties of Japan. 


The Sand Museum Tottori Prefecture

The Tottori prefecture is known for the Tottori Sand Dunes. The Sand Museum is Japan’s only open-air museum exhibiting sculptures made of sand. Each year, new world-class sand sculptures are presented that attract sand sculptors and tourists from around the world. 


Toyama Glass Art Museum Toyama Prefecture

For 30 years, Toyoma has been proactively building and growing its reputation in the glass space and is now one of the world’s leading glass cities with the ideal environment for glass art. In addition to the Art Museum, the city is home to the Toyama Institute of Glass Art, where glass artists are trained, and the Toyama Glass Studio aims for the local industrialization of glass. 


The Toyama Glass Art Museum is currently home to a collection of over 400 contemporary glass art pieces. The building itself is considered an artistic piece with its uniquely shiny façade that was carefully designed so that the light can penetrate ever-so-specifically. 


Nasu Orgel Museum Japanese only website, Tochigi Prefecture

The Nasu Orgel Museum houses a collection of over 100 orgel (wind-up music boxes) from all over the world. The museum offers an interactive class that teaches you to make your orgel with 80 pieces of music and over 1000 pieces of materials. It takes approximately one hour to build your orgel.

Seiji Fujishiro Museum Japanese only website Tochigi Prefecture

Seiji Fujishiro, a Kirie artist, created cut-out art using mirrors, silhouettes, and lighting. This museum is located in a beautiful natural environment and transports you into his fantasy world.


Sendai Kaleidoscopes Art Museum Miyagi Prefecture

The Sendai Kaleidoscopes Art Museum is home to a collection of unique and impressive kaleidoscopes. The museum offers many interactive classes for children and adults where you can make your kaleidoscopes in 10-30 minutes. 


Morohashi Museum of Modern Art Fukushima Prefecture

Teizo Morohahi spent about ten years collecting works of art. He was particularly intensely fascinated by and attracted to the intricate paintings of Salvador Dali. His interest in Dali prompted him to open the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art, which today is the only museum in all of Asia where Dali's works are on permanent exhibit.


Inside the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art, you can enjoy Morohashi’s impressive collection of almost 330 paintings, sculptures, prints, and other works by Dali. The museum includes about 40 images from the impressionist movement through the Surrealist periods and about 30 works by the British contemporary artist Pamela Crook. The museum’s collection of Dali’s works is the third-largest in the world after those found in the Dali Museum in the U.S. Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres, Spain.  


Kirishima Open-Air Museum Kagoshima Prefecture

The Kirishima Open-Air Museum is Kagoshima Prefecture’s premier center for cultural and artistic exchange. Visitors can enjoy exquisite sculptures exhibited in the Kirishima woods' natural landscapes and stroll in the open exhibit. It is a child-friendly environment. 

Matsumoto Art Museum.jpg

Trick 3D Art Museums

3D Trick Art Masashi Hattori Tokyo Prefecture

Here you can enjoy the 3D illusion artwork of Masashi Hattori, a well-known artist in Europe and Japan. 


Trick 3D Art In Codedo 

in Saitama, Osaka locationOita location


Other similar trick art museums are Trick Art Museum in Takao, Tokyo, Tokyo Trick Art Museum, Atami Trick Art Museum, Nasu Trick Art Museum in Nasu, Tochigi.

Small Contemporary Galleries in Tokyo

Small Contemporary Galleries in Tokyo

Recommended Resources

Hokusai Museum.jpg


From traditional to modern, Japanese architecture is often praised for its clarity, attention to detail, meditative mood, and tangible emphasis on material gravity or lightness. You can check out the following resources about where to see some incredible architecture. 

Recommended Resources

National Art Center Tokyo.jpg

Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum is located in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. It’s a fascinating museum where over 35,000 historical documents and antique carpentry tools are displayed. 

The Enoura Observatory, which is part of the Odawara Art Foundation, is located on the outer rim of the Hakone Mountains overlooking Sagami Bay. Their gallery space, the Noh stage and revived Tensho-an tea ceremony room, Meigetsu gate, and the garden are must-see.



In many Western countries, tattoos have become socially accepted as common fashion statements. In Japan, however, tattoos are still stigmatized for their association with organized crime groups such as the Yakuza, who prove their loyalty to their gangs by having full-body markings. As a result, people with such markings are often refused in gyms, hot springs, beaches, and public swimming pools. You may see small fashion tattoos among young people or artists, but most local people still wouldn’t have one for employment reasons. If you are interested in the Japanese tattoo culture, have a tattoo, or are interested in getting a tattoo in Japan, you can check out the following resources below. 

Recommended Resources

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