Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Three Museums You Can Walk To From Roppongi Station
Written by Ai Yoneda
Roppongi is an area filled with sophistication and art. This article features three unique museums: Mori Art Museum, Suntory Museum of Art, and The National Art Center, located near Roppongi Station. Enjoy an afternoon or evening of culture and art in the heart of Tokyo.
Museums to Visit in Roppongi, Tokyo
Roppongi, Tokyo, is famous its nightlife and upscale shopping areas. It has an international image, and is also a town of art, with public art on the streets, and museums are in this area too. In this article, we introduce three major museums located within walking distance from Roppongi Station ideal for a day or evening of intellectual and artistic fun.
Mori Art Museum
Mori Art Museum is located on the 53rd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower and features various domestic and international art exhibitions throughout the year, often showing outstanding visual pieces and progressive themes with fashion, architecture, and photography. It is one of the facilities of the Mori Arts Center.
This museum was designed by Richard Gluckman, who was also in charge of the renovation and addition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the United States, and the design of the Deutsche Guggenheim in Germany. Therefore, the entire design is very impressive. The two escalators leading to the museum entrance, in particular, are very impressive.
Mori Art Museum often hosts exhibitions of popular artists from overseas, so it tends to get crowded on weekends. In the past, works by the nineteenth-century artist Alfons Mucha, and horror-movie director Tim Burton were introduced here.
The museum is open until 10:00pm, so a late-night visit is possible. It might be fun to view contemporary art after shopping. After a visit to the museum, go down to the 52nd floor to the Tokyo City View observation deck for a spectacular view of the metropolis.
The National Art Center, Tokyo
The glass-encased, unique The National Art Center, Tokyo, stands out in Roppongi, where there are many high-rise towers. It has three floors above ground and one floor underground. With 14,000 square meters of space, museum holds one of the largest exhibition areas in Japan.
The National Art Center hosts special exhibitions based on a specific theme, and exhibitions with works solicited from the general public, which are judged and awarded. In addition to domestic pieces, there are also exhibitions loaned from internationally-renowned museums.
This museum also hosts exhibits of Japanese designers and exhibitions of award-winning works from the Japan Arts Media Festival. Visitors will be able to observe the trends of the more local art scenes in Japan.
The museum has a cafe, restaurant, and a shop inside, along with a barrier-free design. It is equipped with 10 multi-purpose restrooms. Also, wheelchairs and walking sticks can be borrowed, making the museum available to everyone.
Suntory Museum of Art
For those who want to learn about Japanese culture and its history, Suntory Museum of Art is the place to go. The museum is specialized in Japanese art, and visitors can view, listen, feel, and experience various artworks. Please note the museum is closed for renovations currently but will re-open on May 13, 2020. Please see the official website for details.
The museum's collection consists of historic Japanese paintings, ceramics, and textiles. Visitors can appreciate the ink paintings folding screens traditionally used in homes up-close.
Workshops regarding the ongoing exhibitions and lectures about Japanese art are held infrequently, so visitors from abroad can learn about the artworks. Also, tencha (the preparation of powdered tea) workshops are held regularly on the sixth floor of the museum.
The museum shop has mugs and towels with traditional Japanese patterns, which make for ideal souvenirs. The cafe offers Japanese-style dishes and desserts such as matcha-flavored parfait, so the visitors can have a taste of Japan as well.
The rental audio guides for the exhibitions are available in both Japanese and English, so visitors from abroad can use them as well. The Suntory Museum of Art is located inside Tokyo Midtown, and is easy to find. By the way, if you wear a kimono to an exhibition, 100 yen will be deducted from the normal admission fee.
Free Art to See in Roppongi
Besides these museums, Roppongi offers places where you can appreciate artworks for free. For example, Louise Bourgeois' bronze spider, placed at the entrance of the Roppongi Hills, has become famous as its symbol.
The pictured work above is titled "Chair That Disappears in the Rain," by Tokujin Yoshioka. There are a total of 21 commissioned artworks by renowned artists in Roppongi Hills. Visitors can not only appreciate them for free, but they can touch and enjoy them as well.
Visiting museums while traveling is one of the ways to enjoy the trip, so if you visit Roppongi, try and immerse yourself in Japanese art.