Art Exhibition Round-Up! 10 Tokyo Museums to Visit This Summer

Tokyo Culture Art 2019.05.28
Hokusai, Pixar, Cezanne, Yayoi Kusama, books, cats!? Plus much more!

Tokyo: A City of Art!

Sure, you can find some high-quality sushi and beautiful temples in Tokyo, but this is also a city packed full of museums! In fact, there are so many great Tokyo museums that put on exhibitions of amazing art and artifacts, you could probably head to a new one every day for the rest of your life. That many museum trips might get a little exhausting, though, so instead we've put together a list of ten fun art events to check out over the next few months. With everything from traditional Japanese and Western artists to contemporary rockstars like Yayoi Kusama, Iranian picture books to artfully taken cat photos, this summer there's an exhibit for every kind of art lover!



This exhibition of Yayoi Kusama's art includes some of the pieces that first brought her fame in New York 60 years ago, particular the Infinity Nets series. They really show you what some of her early interpretations of the polka dots she's now famous for looked like, and you can see a lot of her interest in repeating patterns. The exhibition includes some photographs and documents related to the creation of the art, as well. In addition to this important early work, there will also be a collection of Kusama's more recent work! This will include both one of her popular pumpkin sculptures, and a new piece that has never been exhibited before. It's a must-see exhibition for Yayoi Kusama fans!

Yayoi Kusama's Eternal Infinity
April 4 ~ August 31
Yayoi Kusama Museum
11:30 ~ 17:30
(Closed Mon, Tue, Wed)
Adults: 1,000 yen | Children 6-18 y.o.: 600 yen
​Official Website

② "Rabbits! River Otters! Hedgehogs!?" Stamp Art Exhibit

Stamps might not strike you as the most interesting thing to go look at (don't we all think of stamp collecting as a stereotype of boring people?) But it turns out that countries all over the world have been known to use small animals as stamp art, displaying these adorable creatures on envelopes delivered everywhere! Visit Tokyo's Philatelic Museum, A.K.A. Kitte no Hakubutsukan (切手の博物館), or stamp museum, to see a whole collection of cute critters on absolutely tiny canvases. If you're lucky, you'll get there on one of the days when they are specially displaying the original art that's used on Japan's standard 2 yen stamps (a sweet white bunny!)

"Rabbits! River Otters! Hedgehogs!?" Stamp Art Exhibit
April 3 ~ June 30
Tokyo Philatelic Museum
10:30 ~ 17:00
(Closed Mon)
Adults: 200 yen | Elementary/Middle School Students: 100 yen
Official Website

③ Vienna on the Path to Modernism

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Austria and Japan, this exhibition is perfect for any lovers of Viennese art! The exhibition is focused on the increasing push towards modernism during the turn of the century in Vienna, and features works from the famous Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. If you can't get enough of European art no matter where you're traveling, this is a great chance to see an impressive collection.


Vienna on the Path to Modernism
April 24 ~ August 5
The National Art Center, Tokyo
10:00 ~ 18:00
(Closed Tue)
General: 1,600 yen | University Students: 1,200 yen | High School Students: 800 yen | Children: Free!
Official Website

④ The Science Behind Pixar

There's no doubt that Pixar films are art, and you can see that in their lovingly perfected animation. This exhibit lets you behind the scenes, though, showing you how the art is created! Originally opened in 2015 at the Boston's Museum of Science, the exhibition has had more than 1.5 million visitors at 8 different North American locations, and now it has arrived in Tokyo! Get a deeper look into how concept art is created and transformed into the lifelike (but adorably cartoonish) animation that Pixar specializes in. Perfect for fans of all ages!

The Science Behind Pixar
April 13 ~ September 16
Roppongi Hills Observatory Tokyo City View
10:00 ~ 22:00
Adults: 1,800 yen | Students: 1,200 yen | Children 4-15 y.o.: 600 yen
Official Website


⑤ A World of Flowers ― Coloring the Four Seasons

If you've ever been to Japan before, you probably have some idea of how popular flower viewing is in the country. This exhibition is taking that same theme to the art world, taking place during the zenith of many flowers' growing seasons, late spring and early summer. The traditional Japanese art pieces from the Edo Period feature flowers of all kinds, and of course flowers representative of Japanese culture are all over the place, so you'll see plenty of cherry blossoms and camellias. Birds flit and insects frolic between the blossoms, making the exhibition a joy to tour. The art is arranged in the order of the seasons, so walk through the year and take in the masterpieces.

A World of Flowers ― Coloring the Four Seasons
April 6 ~ June 2
Yamatane Museum of Art
10:00 ~ 17:00
(Closed Mon)
Adults: 1,200 yen | Students: 900 yen | Children ~15 y.o. : Free!​
Official Website

⑥ 100-Year Chronicle of Uniforms in Nippon

As it turns out, this year is the 100th anniversary of western-style school uniforms being brought to Japan! Japan's interest in the culture of high school life is clear to any visitors, and this exhibition gives you a chance to be a part of that particular sphere of Japanese thinking. Some of the pieces featured are actual items of clothing, so if you don't have a good idea of what a normal Japanese high school girl's uniform looks, they've got you covered. Much of the exhibit consists of a curated collection of uniform-themed, though, some of which was drawn by some pretty famous Japanese manga illustrators. This may not be your traditional art exhibition, but it's a great idea for anyone who wants to get into Japanese culture while in Tokyo!

100-Year Chronicle of Uniforms in Nippon
April 4 ~ June 30
Yayoi Museum
10:00 ~ 17:00
(Closed Mon)
General: 900 yen | Students: 800 yen | Children ~15 y.o.: 400 yen
Official Website

⑦ The Land of Poetry and Legends: Children's Books in Iran

This exhibition is being held in Japan's International Library of Children's Literature, which is why it features children's picture books! This collection of Iranian illustrations gives you a fascinating look into another country's culture, and the topic makes it a fun visit for children of all ages. This particular exhibit especially features books based on culturally significant Iranian poetry and legends, as well as more general work from internationally-known Iranian illustrators and authors. Take a trip to the library and get in your daily dose of books and art at the same time!

The Land of Poetry and Legends: Children's Books in Iran
May 21 ~ July 21
International Library of Children's Literature, National Diet Library
9:30 ~ 17:00
(Closed Mon, 3rd Wed of the Month)
All Ages: Free!
Official Website


⑧ The Burrell Collection: A voyage to Impressionism

Scottish shipping tycoon William Burrell put together an impressive art collection during his lifetime, and included in that were a number of important Impressionist works. He was also interested in the work of his Scottish brethren who were influenced by the French Impressionists he collected. This exhibition features a number of works along that theme, and as they put it, "a journey through art trends from Realism to Impressionism." Eighty pieces make up this fascinating exhibition pulled from a formerly private collection, and brought to Tokyo for your viewing pleasure.

The Burrell Collection: A voyage to Impressionism
April 27 ~ June 30
10:00 ~ 18:00
Adults: 1,500 yen | Students: 1,000 yen | Children ~15 y.o.: 700 yen
Official Website


⑨ Edo Livelihoods by Hokusai

Hokusai is most famous for his many views of Mt. Fuji, represented in beautiful block print, of which he created more than one collection. For most fans in the West, the name Katsushika Hokusai brings to mind the image of small boats being swallowed by a large wave in front of the famous mountain. But Hokusai created art depicting numerous subjects, which is clear if you visit his relatively new museum in Sumida, Tokyo. This particular exhibition features the people of Tokyo about their daily activities, with residents at work and at play. Head over for beautifully rendered block prints of merchants, street performers, doctors, and more!

Edo Livelihoods by Hokusai
April 23 ~ June 9
The Sumida Hokusai Museum​
9:30 ~ 17:30
(Closed Some Mondays)
Adults: 1,000 yen | Students: 700 yen | Children ~15 y.o.: 300 yen
Official Website


⑩ Neko ga Kawaii Dake Ten (猫がかわいいだけ展), or "Cats Are Just Cute Exhibition"

Last but not least, it wouldn't be Japan (and this wouldn't be the internet) if there weren't cats! As the title implies, this is just an exhibit showing off some adorable kitties. Professionally taken photographs featuring cats doing all kinds of cute things, it's a must-see for any cat lovers out there!


"Neko ga Kawaii Dake Ten" Exhibition
August 15 ~ September 10
Shibuya Hikarie Hall
10:00 ~ 20:30
General: 800 yen | Children ~12 y.o.: Free!
Official Website


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