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Goin’ Japanesque!

Things to Do in Japan: Top 3 Absolute Must-see Japanese Art Museums

Japan’s climate in autumn is perfectly suited for a wide variety of activities, and it’s been said since long ago that fall is the season of eating, reading, and art. We’re going to look at the last of that trio today, having carefully selected three art museums that display works you simply can’t see without coming to Japan. Beyond the obvious, what make an exhibit wonderful are exhibition furnishings like the case and LED lighting. Much attention is given to showing you an item at its most brilliant by exhibiting it using Japan’s state-of-the-art technology.


1. Ueno Royal Museum

From November 20, 2015, the Ueno Royal Museum of Tokyo will host the very first exhibition in the country of Japanese art collector Roger L. Weston’s hand-painted ukiyo-e collection. Ukiyo-e is normally associated with woodblock printing, but hand-painted ukiyo-e are in a category of their own, crafted by the master’s brush directly. Around 130 pieces are scheduled for exhibition, including works by Utamaro and Hokusai. The incredible illustrative techniques used will captivate you with the details in the hairlines, the eyebrows, and the curves of the subjects seen through the thin kimono material.

One Hundred Edo Bijin

無款「扇舞美人図」、懐月堂度繁「立姿遊女図」、鳥文斎栄之「見立小町図」 、葛飾北斎「美人愛猫図」、溪斎英泉「夏の洗い髪美人図」、祇園井特「立姿美人図」©Weston Collection

初代歌川豊国「見立雪月花図」©Weston Collection

A great number of standing bijin (“beauties”) pictures are scheduled to be displayed. The hairstyles and kimonos of the models tell you of the changes in fashion between the eras, and from their makeup you can determine their social standing, their class, and whether they’re married or not.

宮川長春「琉球人舞楽之図」©Weston Collection

百川子興「七福神酒宴図」©Weston Collection

河鍋暁斎「一休禅師地獄太夫図」、小林清親「頼豪阿闍梨」©Weston Collection

All of them are done directly by the artists, meaning that each hand-painted ukiyo-e is a precious, one-of-a-kind item. If you’ve the chance, be sure to come see these paintings while they make a return to the country of their creation.

Information, Map
Dates: November 20, 2015 – January 17, 2016
Closed: Mondays (except November 23, January 11) and January 1
Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Open until 20:00 on Fridays)


2. Hoki Museum

The Hoki Museum in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture is the very first museum in Japan dedicated to photorealism in art. Before you even step foot in the museum itself, take a moment to admire its architecture, how the 30 m (about 1/3 of the whole building) protruding end floats in the air.


These aren’t photos: every single one is an actual painting. Most of them are done by Japanese artists, so you’ll only be able to see them if you come to Japan. They feel so real, it’s like you’d completely lose track of time as they draw you in. Information: Map


3. Nezu Museum


The Nezu Museum is located in Tokyo’s Minamiaoyama and exhibits ancient works of Japan and the Orient. The building itself is in a traditional Japanese style, so lovers of all things Japanese will be enthralled before they even enter the building.

Once in, the exhibitions as well are wholly in the Japanese style. Each and every item here is absolutely top-notch, from the scrolls and paintings to the ceramics, carvings, textiles, and tea equipment.

Don’t miss out on the garden or tea room, either. If you find yourself at the Nezu Museum, you’ll be able to see a complete assortment of Japanese cultural items throughout. The calming atmosphere of the premises is truly Japanese, and experiencing the way time flows here in and of itself makes the trip worthwhile. We can’t recommend this museum enough! Information: Map

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