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Best Architecture & Design in Tokyo

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Here is another businessman's collection (Kaichiro Nezu 1860-1940) which has become a first-rate museum. Well represented are traditional Japanese art works. The museum is well known for its 14th century painting of "Nachi Waterfall", its screens (the irises by Korin) and its tea ceremony ware. There is also an excellent collection of Song and Yuan Chinese dynasty paintings. The facility itself is breathtaking with plenty of trees, a small pond and traditional sculptures dotting the landscape. Overall, this museum is guaranteed to fill you with tranquility and awe.

Ever wondered how Japanese houses and shops looked decades ago? Well, here is your chance to gain knowledge. Much of Tokyo's architectural heritage had been destroyed in the Great Kanto earthquake and the World War II bombings. In order to retrieve its past, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government established the Tatemono-en (open air architectural museum) as part of the Edo-Tokyo museum in 1993. The museum has 27 buildings (with plans for four more) that run along small streets and span architectural time-lines from the mid-Edo period through the mid-Showa. Do not miss the Tsunashima family's thatched-roof farmhouse, the old post box, the top of the watchtower from the Ueno Fire Station and the bricks from Ginza Brick Town. Walk through the streets and take history lessons! Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum closes every Monday (When Monday is a national holiday, closes on the following day.)

21_21 Design Sight is Tadao Ando and Issey Miyake's labor of love. It shines an appreciative light on all things design-able, from furniture to utensils to architecture. There are many exhibitions and workshops held here as 21_21's primary function is to provide a creative meeting place for designers and craftsmen. The building itself is flat and triangular, resembling a folded origami design.

Designed by Henri Rapin in an art-deco style, and later turned over to the auspices of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, this pre-war mansion was built in the mid-1930s for Prince Asaka. Apart from the temporary exhibits, the house itself is worthy of a visit to admire the lovely Lalique pieces, both glass and window work. The manicured grounds are favored by picnickers. Temporary exhibits are eclectic. For example, one exhibit featured artwork produced by Japanese-Americans while incarcerated in the United States during the Second World War.

Opened in October 2003, the Mori Art Museum is dedicated to contemporary art and has been critically acclaimed by experts for its diverse exhibitions. Every exhibition has its own specific theme and a number of related artworks—paintings, photographs and prints—are displayed. The museum not only encourages Japanese artistes to come up with innovative creations, but also attracts a wide range of audiences from all over the country through various public programs. Mori Art does not hold permanent exhibitions; the venue is closed to public when there are no displays.

More of an exhibition hall than a museum, the National Art Center, Tokyo devotes over 14,000 square meters to beautiful artworks. The Center specializes in an ever-changing array of temporary exhibitions that concentrate on the diversity of modern and classical art. Kashiwa SATÔ, designer of the Center's theme, says the facility's focus is to promote "new, more open relationships between people and art". Other than the wondrous art installations on display, the monolithic structure itself is a real eye-grabber. With a curved, stained glass aperture, it is bound to captivate even from a distance. Overall, if you are an art connoisseur, then National Art Center is well worth your time.

Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum is home to the works of the great artist, Taro Okamoto. Magnificent sculptures and paintings fill the museum. This Museum was his house and atelier, where he created many famous artworks. Here you can also catch a glimpse of rare manuscripts, which also hosts variety of exhibitions. His strange artworks will stimulate your creativity. For a nominal price you can learn all about this visionary artist and truly learn the meaning of abstract art.

Japan is a haven for all architectural enthusiasts, especially Tokyo, for the way the city is advancing its architectural progress has crossed all boundaries. At Gallery Ma, which is located on the 3rd floor of the Toto Nogizaka building, you get to observe the strangest and most exceptional bold works done by some of the most famous builders in Japan. To know more about the Gallery Ma, do visit their website.

The objective of this museum is to provide a venue for international artistic and cultural exchange. It is the only museum in Tokyo that systematically brings together foreign and domestic contemporary art. The Permanent Collection Gallery displays around 3,800 works. Established in 1995, the building's architecture is strikingly contemporary. Facilities include galleries for temporary exhibitions, a lecture room, an art library, museum shop, restaurant and a cafeteria.

Located in the Setagaya-ku area, this art museum is a large establishment that puts up exhibitions throughout the year. Equipped with a shop, an auditorium, a lecture room and a library, it has just the right facilities required to appreciate art. An on-site restaurant serves visitors lunch and snacks. The museum also has three annexes that function in collaboration with the main building—Mukai Junkichi, Kiyokawa Taiji and Miyamot Saburo. It is therefore no wonder that thousands of visitors flock to this art haven each year.

The Gallery A4 is a rare type of gallery displaying artworks related to architecture. It will teach you the charm of architecture through exhibitions using various media, such as models, photos, and movies. This gallery also holds some workshops, which let you get another perspective on architecture. Please note that hours of operation may vary for each exhibition. If you wish to get more information, please go to the website.

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