Being the biggest city in the world, it comes as no surprise to learn that Tokyo is absolutely bursting with creativity. From the minute you step off the plane, inspiration is everywhere. It has some of the finest art galleries and museums you could ever imagine. Its heritage and culture are incredibly different to anything you've ever encountered before. It's truly unique.
From the neon bright lights and constant sights and smells to the often crazy fashion you'll spot on the streets, this is a metropolis that invades all of the senses and cannot fail to impress. Move over Berlin, New York and London – Tokyo is where it's at. Here, we share our top 10 spots to find creative inspiration in Japan's awesome capital.
1. Mori Art Museum, Roppongi
For all you contemporary art and architecture lovers out there, Mori Art Museum is an essential spot to visit in Tokyo. Located at the top of the Mori Tower – which is visible throughout Japan's capital – this is where you're likely to encounter some of the world's leading artists. Next up, Leandro Erlich: Seeing and Believing and Japan in Architecture: Genealogies of Its Transformation.
2. Roppongi Hills, Roppongi
After visiting the Mori Art Museum, take some time to explore the local area of Roppongi Hills. It's one of Japan's largest integrated property developments, constructed by building tycoon Minoru Morin. He had the vision to create a high-rise, inner-urban community where people could live, work, play and shop in the same place without having to commute anywhere. The result is a mega-complex of office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theatres, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheatre, and a few parks. If that wasn't enough, the whole area is dotted with art and design. A fascinating vision brought to life, just waiting for you to explore.
3. Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
You simply cannot travel all the way to Tokyo without visiting the Ghibli Museum at Inokashira Park in Mitaka. Showcasing the work of the Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, it's a must for any die-hard Ghibli fan or just those of you who love art and motion graphics. Get spirited away in director Hayao Miyazaki's wonderland (he designed the museum himself, you know).
4. SCAI The Bathhouse, Taito
One of the most prestigious art galleries in Tokyo, SCAI The Bathhouse is housed in a former public bathhouse, built over 200 years ago. This means you will not only be inspired by the many exhibitions on display; you'll also be wowed by the building's traditional Japanese architecture.
5. Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Meguro
An essential spot for photography lovers, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, otherwise known as "Top Museum", is where you go to discover the latest photography. There are permanent displays as well as touring exhibitions. Past shows have focused on the work of Berenice Abbott and Tadahiko Hayashi, plus Martin Parr and Hiromi Tsuchida.
6. The National Art Center, Tokyo
Another essential place to visit in Roppongi, the National Art Center is not only beautiful to look at from the outside; it boasts the largest exhibition space of any museum in Japan. Unlike anywhere else in Japan, it's considered to be an "empty museum" without any permanent display. Instead, it hosts temporary exhibitions – most recently, Tadao Ando: Endeavors.
7. Advertising Museum Tokyo (ADMT), Caretta Shiodome
The Advertising Museum Tokyo is the only place in Japan dedicated to advertising and marketing. Here, you can enjoy seeing advertisements ranging from the Nishiki-e (coloured woodblock prints) dating back to the Edo period to the latest TV commercials.
8. Nezu Museum, Minato
To truly immerse yourself in Japanese culture, make the Nezu Museum a place you visit during your stay in Tokyo. Formerly known as the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, it's an art museum based in the Minato district of Tokyo, and founded to preserve traditional Japanese and East Asian art. The museum's collection includes a wealth of historical paintings, national treasures and precious art objects, so you'll be spoilt for inspiration.
9. Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama
Based in the nearby seaport city of Yokohama, the Yokohama Museum of Art is one of the largest art institutions in Japan, and therefore worthy of a mention (it's not far from Tokyo, and easy to get to). With its iconic architecture and an expansive Grand Gallery, you will enjoy wandering through its seven exhibition spaces with impressive touring shows. In 2018, Nude: Art from the Tate Collection will be kicking off in March.
10. Harajuku, Tokyo
Ok, so Harajuku is more than a spot, it's an entire district of Tokyo. But bear with me. It's worth a mention, as it has so much creative inspiration to offer. Leave Harajuku Station and take a left to discover the teenage culture on Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street). This is where you'll see Tokyo's most original fashion elite. Believe me, it's a photographer's paradise. But if that doesn't appeal, take a right out of the Station and head to Meiji Jingu, one of Tokyo's major shrines, set within the tranquil Yoyogi Park. The greenery and beautiful heritage are bound to clear the mind and inspire.
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