1. Tokyo Art & Antiques festival
    Photo: Oriental Antiques Gallery Maesaka SeitendoTokyo Art & Antiques festival
  2. Tokyo Art & Antiques festival
    Photo: Tokyo Art & AntiquesTokyo Art & Antiques festival
  3. Tokyo Art Antiques
    Photo: Galerie Etoile

5 reasons you should check out the Tokyo Art & Antiques festival

See special exhibitions, browse art galleries and discover one of Tokyo’s most artistic neighbourhoods

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Tokyo Art & Antiques - Nihonbashi/Kyobashi Art Festival

Taking the time to explore Tokyo's atmospheric Nihonbashi and Kyobashi area is always rewarding. This district is home to an abundance of art shops and galleries, which take centre stage during the annual Tokyo Art & Antiques festival.

This three-day event from April 25 to 27 celebrates the area’s thriving art scene and is well known for its welcoming atmosphere. Around 80 local art shops and galleries will be taking part, with many holding special exhibitions. You’ll also find opportunities to speak directly with the district’s art experts during this friendly festival.

Additionally, through this event in the heart of Tokyo, you can help support one of the city’s most historic neighbourhoods, which is undergoing a revitalisation. The Nihonbashi, Yaesu and Kyobashi area was formerly best known as one of Tokyo’s major business districts, but is set for a reinvention as an art destination. 

There’s no better time to experience all this than during the Tokyo Art & Antiques festival. So here are five reasons you should check out this event in one of the capital’s coolest neighbourhoods.

Explore one of Japan’s major art hubs

Nihonbashi and Kyobashi have long been established areas for art in Tokyo. Together they’re home to around 150 galleries and antique shops, some of which date back nearly 100 years. In fact, there's an art dealer here that's been in business for 350 years. More interestingly, some of the art establishments here are the owners of prized artifacts housed in prestigious museums overseas, such as the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum. 

This concentration of stores and galleries makes the district one of the biggest hubs for art in Japan. Even the Beatles and American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller III visited this art district in the past.

Now, there’s no better time to explore this fascinating part of the city than during the Tokyo Art & Antiques festival. As you walk around, you’ll be able to feel the history of Nihonbashi and Kyobashi, whose art scene emerged around the 1920s and boomed during the post-Second World War years.

As you would expect from such a historic area, you’ll find some beautiful antiques and tea ceremony paraphernalia here. But this thriving neighbourhood isn’t just about classic Japanese art. Stroll around to discover pieces from all over the world, including sculptures, bronzes and contemporary paintings.

Find your new favourite art gallery

One of the charms of Tokyo Art & Antiques is the friendly, welcoming atmosphere. You can wander around at your own pace during the festival, speak to the gallery owners and even touch some of the artworks.

This opportunity to build relationships with the galleries is at the heart of the festival. Looking at art through the windows of a shop can sometimes feel imposing, but you don’t have to worry about that during this event, which prides itself on being welcoming to everyone. If you’ve ever wanted to start an art collection or just pick up a special item as a reminder of your trip, this is the chance to do just that.

At the participating stores and galleries, curators and artists will be more than happy to share their passion for art. No matter what your background or level of knowledge about art, you’ll be welcome to drop in and ask questions. Never will you have a better chance to find your new favourite gallery.

Dive into the fascinating special exhibitions

A major element of Tokyo Art & Antiques is the wide array of special exhibitions organised by stores and galleries in the area. This year, more than 50 venues will be holding displays, each focused on their own speciality.

The Nihonbashi and Kyobashi district is an eclectic area when it comes to art, so you’ll be able to enjoy exhibitions covering a wide array of genres. There are several exhibitions focusing on drinkware for tea and sake, displays of contemporary artwork, showings of traditional Japanese paintings and much more. You can see the full list of exhibitions on the event website.

In keeping with the atmosphere of the festival, everyone is welcome to drop in and learn about each venue’s impressive collection of artwork. The exhibitions will be friendly events where the venue owners and artists will be more than happy to chat with you about all things art. In addition to the exhibitions, some stores and galleries will be holding gallery talks. 

Note that while most exhibitions are free to attend, some require an admission fee. Check the event website for more details.

Buy high-quality artworks in a friendly environment

Tokyo Art & Antiques isn’t just about looking at art. The festival also provides an excellent opportunity to browse the galleries and purchase something special as a gift or souvenir.

Nihonbashi and Kyobashi are home to highly reputable stores and galleries where resident art experts are happy to offer advice about purchases. During the festival, you can speak directly to the curators and artists to find out more about any artwork you’re curious about. You’ll get a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the pieces on display by communicating directly with the galleries.

There’s a depth of art to explore around the district, no matter what your interests. You can pick up traditional Japanese tableware such as tea and sake cups, Oriental antiques, Buddhist art, Scandinavian furniture, Korean pottery, ancient Chinese bronzes, and paintings by domestic and international artists. Check out the full list of galleries on the event website.

So take your time to browse the inviting venues during the festival to find that perfect piece of art for your collection.

Discover one of Tokyo’s coolest neighbourhoods

One of the charms of Nihonbashi and Kyobashi is strolling around and soaking up the atmosphere of these neighbourhoods. The area has undergone a cool reinvention over the last couple of years and is today one of the most interesting places to spend time in Tokyo.

Formerly Tokyo’s business centre, the area is now thriving with a host of cool and cultured things to do, from dining and shopping to museum and gallery hopping. Here you'll find the gleaming new Tokyo Midtown Yaesu right across from Tokyo Station, filled with trendy restaurants, shops and public art, existing alongside well-established museums such as Mitsui Memorial Museum and Artizon Museum.

So come and enjoy the warm springtime weather by exploring the area at your own pace, and you might just find your new favourite spot to hang out in Tokyo.


For more information about Tokyo Art & Antiques festival, see the website.

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