Ginza Galleries

Up on the 12th floor of Uniqlo wondering what on earth you’re doing? Already ate lunch, so you aren’t hungry? Take a break from the crowds and the spending and the eating and fit in some art! Cool galleries are interspersed all through Ginza -- these are five that I make sure to visit when I’m in the area.

Shiota Chiharu: The Soul Trembles

Red strings, boats, large-scale. This artist’s work is immediately recognizable to those who have seen even one of her larger installations. But these short descriptions of her artwork are reductive and can’t adequately convey the experience of standing in her stunning installations. If you are in Tokyo, you will be lucky enough to see the largest solo exhibition of her work, which spans 25 years of her career. In addition to several large installations, there are sculptures, videos, photographs, drawings and more.

Asakura Museum of Sculpture

This museum is located in the house and workshop of the sculptor, Fumio Asakura . Many of Asakura’s sculptures are placed around the house in addition to his books and furnishings. His workshop has high ceilings and a lift to move the sculptures. Cat lovers can see several cat sculptures on the third floor, which formerly served as an orchid room.

teamLab Borderless

If you’re in Japan and on any social media, it’s hard not to know something about teamLab. The imminently Instagrammable digital art museum is designed for selfies to share. There are rooms filled with projections of flowers, strings of beautifully flashing lights, small lanterns of changing colors, and a room that’s great for moving around, especially with kids, called the Athletics Forest.

Vienna on the Path to Modernism

This exhibition focuses on fin de siècle Vienna as the precursor to modernism, providing historical context through influences such as the Freemasons and the Emperor Joseph II’s reforms, through Biedermeier Era, the rise of Vienna’s business class, and the effect of the Vienna World’s Fair in 1873. The rest of the exhibition focuses on the artists of Vienna of the early 20th century: the architecture of Otto Wagner, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka. It also includes the the Vienna Secession, Wiener Werkstätte and Expressionism. There are over 400 items, including paintings, prints, clothing, household items, furniture and much more.

The Nature Rules: Dreaming of Earth Project

This exhibition highlights the Dreaming of Earth Project, a concept launched by Jae-Eun Choi. The project centers around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the 38th parallel of the Korean peninsula. Because the land contains an estimated three million landmines, the land itself is human-free and is inhabited by over 5000 species of animals. To preserve this ecosystem, the project proposes different components, such as a vault for seeds, a floating garden and more. The exhibition includes work by several artists.

Meet the collection

In celebration of the Yokohama Museum of Art’s 30th anniversary, which neatly corresponds with the length of the Heisei era, the museum is marking this milestone with an exhibition from their extensive permanent collection. Works by Japanese artists are interspersed with those by well-known, international artists, with paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures and more on view. The exhibition is made up of two parts: LIFE and WORLD. WORLD ends June 23 and will be replaced by The Eye of a Connoisseur: The Legendary Hara Sankei Collection. LIFE is on view until September 1. Four Japanese artists have curated “encounters” between their own work and works by other artists from the museum collection. Yusuke Asai (partial view of his Tree of Life above) is one of these curators and his section is dramatic.

Let's Talk Art!

The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT) is trying something new. Let’s Talk Art! is a weekly art program, targeted to foreign visitors. The museum is promoting a cross-cultural experience through the exploration of masterpieces of modern Japanese art. The one-hour tour focuses on three pieces of art, chosen by the museum guide. Rather than having an expert tell the participants about the art, the guide encourages discussion about the artwork through questions. This is an opportunity to learn about Japan, its history and its culture through selected artworks.

Roppongi Galleries

Galleries can be tough -- they’re not always welcoming spaces and sometimes the art can be challenging. But if you want to see newer art, the type of stuff that isn’t always on view in museums, galleries can be a great way to see lots of different types of art. And see it for free.

Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art, Ibaraki

If you’re interested in learning more about nihonga, Japanese paintings created with traditional materials and techniques, the Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art in Ibaraki is an ideal place to visit. The museum provides historical information about the life of Okakura Tenshin, a founder of the Nihon Bijutsuin (the Art Institute of Japan), which is dedicated to nihonga and promoting the art form through a biennial exhibition called Inten. Tenshin moved from Tokyo to the Izura coast with several Japanese artists, including Yokoyama Taikan, to focus on nihonga. This museum is one of several venues in Japan that exhibits paintings from the Inten exhibition and awards one of its most prestigious prizes. The photo above, Wild Geese Fly North by Yoshinori Tani, is a Tenshin award recipient.

Toguri Museum of Art

Do you like Japanese porcelain and want to learn more about it? This museum’s collection highlights Imari ware created in Arita (formerly Hizen province) beginning in the 1600s. Of the museums three gallery spaces, one is dedicated to explaining the different styles/stages of Imari ware. The other two rooms are exhibition spaces, usually focusing on one specific stage or themes that run across stages, such as flower and plant designs.