Life in Tokyo can be so hectic. Everything is fast-paced, and sometimes you just need to take a moment to relax and enjoy the finer things in life. Whether alone or with friends, going to art galleries is a great way to find a bit of peace when life becomes overwhelming. They force you to look at something and take it in for longer than the 0.2 seconds it takes you to scroll past pictures on Instagram. If you want to immerse yourself in a day of art, Ginza and Roppongi are the best places to visit as they have the greatest abundance of amazing galleries—many more than mentioned here! Take some well-earned time out at some of these galleries!
Design Festa Gallery
Design Festa Gallery is located right in the centre of Harajuku so you can easily visit in the middle of a shopping trip! It plays host to all kinds of artists and photographers, and you’ll rarely see the same ones twice as they change pretty much every week! Each small room in the gallery hosts a different artist’s work to view and some have merchandise like postcards and stickers to purchase. The artists are mostly independent, small artists so make sure to go and support their work! If you would like to showcase your art it is possible to do that at Design Festa Gallery—just check out their website which has all the details. Be sure to visit both the East and West side of the gallery! It can be a little hard to navigate the multiple floors but you never know what you’ll discover.
As well as having a gallery, Design Festa put on a huge art festival twice a year in Tokyo Big Sight. Thousands of artists, designers, creators, performers, and the like are always in attendance at this festival. So many that, in fact, you probably won’t be able to see it all in one day!
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday
11:00 – 20:00
Akihabara is known as the anime haven of Tokyo, but located just off the main streets, behind all the arcade buildings, is a renovated school that has been transformed into an art gallery! Each former classroom is now an art space for a diverse range of artists, and even student exhibitions have been held there. There is also a Lomography shop (perfect for any photographers wanting to experiment with film cameras!) and a café. The building itself still has all of the middle school’s original facilities so it’s worth a visit if you’ve ever wanted to see what a Japanese school building looks like!
They also have an artist residency programme called Air 3331 where they will host your accommodation, give you access to their art studios, and let you exhibit your work in the gallery.
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday
10:00 – 21:00
21_21 Design Sight
Located in Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown, in the centre of a lush green space, is 21_21 Design Sight. Here, the exhibitions are cutting edge and innovative, the artists are well-established, and even the building itself is an architectural wonder.
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday – Sunday
10:00 – 19:00
Admission: General admission ¥1,100; university students ¥800
The Mori Tower
The Mori Tower, also located in Roppongi, has three art centres: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo City View, and Mori Arts Center Gallery. It is one of the more popular destinations for a fun gallery experience—and rightly so! As well as viewing the art, you can also see the entire city from the Tokyo City View and the Sky Deck. Going at night means you can look out over the lit-up metropolis, and every fourth Friday of the month, there are special stargazing events held on the Sky Deck.
Opening hours: Mori Art Museum
Monday, Wednesday – Sunday
10:00 – 22:00
10:00 – 17:00
Tokyo City View
Weekdays and Holidays
10:00 – 23:00
Fridays, Saturdays, Days before holidays
10:00 – 01:00
For more information on upcoming art exhibitions in Tokyo, check out Tokyo Art Beat!