Tokyo Museums and Galleries
Yayoi Kusama Museum
107 Bentencho, Shinjuku
This new museum—it opened in the fall of 2017—is dedicated to works of Yayoi Kusama, perhaps the most famous living artist in Japan. Kusama is known for her “infinity rooms,” which play with space and perspective in ways that are both delightful and disorienting. Some of those are on display in this new five-story building in Shinjuku, as are many of Kusama’s polka-dotted paintings, which come from a history of hallucinations Kusama says she has experienced since she was ten years old. You must buy tickets online in advance, and only fifty people are allowed in the museum for a ninety-minute session, so plan accordingly. To be frank, few museums in Tokyo are worth the trip, but this one most certainly is.
Omotesando is a popular and upscale shopping district, but it’s also home to one of the great collections of Asian antiquities in Japan. The Nezu Museum was designed by Kengu Kuma, who is currently building Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium for the 2020 Summer Games. The collection of art and artifacts from the past 2000 years is unparalleled in Asia and is matched by the serenity of Kuma’s architecture. Both inside and out, the traditions and aesthetics of a Japanese tea service abound, pulling you out of the modern shopping-centric vibes of Omotesdando and delivering you to an elevated, more peaceful plane.
21_21 Design Sight
A collaboration between two titans of Japanese design, architect Tadao Ando and designer Issey Miyake, 21_21 Design Sight is a museum focused on the design of the everyday. Exhibits include an examination of the work of city photographer William Klein, the history of writing implements, and the use of handmade khadi fabric in India. The building itself is also a masterpiece of design, with a sloping roof that reflects both Ando’s and Miyake’s work in architecture and fashion.
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