1. Maison Hermès Le Forum
    Photo: Maison Hermès Maison Hermès Le Forum
  2. Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo
    (c)Louis Vuitton / Daici AnoEspace Louis Vuitton Tokyo
  3. 3110NZ by LDH Kitchen
    Photo: Shigeru Tanaka Courtesy of NANZUKA3110NZ by LDH Kitchen

6 hidden art galleries in Tokyo you must visit

See art in the most unexpected places – some unconventional galleries are hidden in designer stores and one even serves sushi

Kaila Imada
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Kaila Imada
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In Tokyo you’ll find art galleries hidden in some of the most unusual locations. From inside luxury brand boutiques to omakase sushi restaurants, these secret art spaces often host interesting exhibitions which are free to the public. It’s also the most pleasant way to multitask, as you can complement your art excursion with a side of shopping or even an indulgent dinner. Wondering where you can find these unique spaces? Read on for the most unconventional art galleries in Tokyo. 

RECOMMENDED: The best free public art sculptures around Tokyo

Art in the city

  • Art
  • Nakameguro

Half art gallery, half omakase sushi restaurant, 3110NZ is the ingenious collaboration between Shibuya art gallery Nanzuka Underground and renowned sushi institution Sushi Saito. The space operates as a free art gallery during the day, and in the evening, it serves omakase sushi dinners with just eight counter seats. 

Exhibitions here change every four to six weeks. Aside from that, you’ll also find little nuggets of art all over the space. For one, the venue's sleek logo was created by renowned Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama, while the entire space was designed by Snarkitecture, the architecture firm co-founded by American artist Daniel Arsham.

  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Ginza

Ginza Tsutaya may be first and foremost a bookstore, but take a closer look and you’ll find art on display between the bookshelves and on almost every corner. The bookstore even has its own dedicated gallery space known as The Club, where it hosts temporary exhibitions featuring both Japanese and international artists. Unfortunately, The Club is set to close on June 11 – but it will showcase a final exhibition celebrating Japanese artist Naoya Inose from April 28.

Aside from the permanent art pieces peppered among the books – don’t miss the stunning sculpture by Kohei Nawa and the beautiful folding screen by Sofu Teshigahara – Ginza Tsutaya also hosts a changing exhibition in its open atrium space. Looking for art books? The shop carries an extensive collection of about 60,000 art titles from around the world, including vintage tomes, photography collections and works from emerging new artists.

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  • Art
  • Shibuya

This offshoot of Shibuya gallery Nanzuka Underground is a retail shop specialising in art merchandise with a mini gallery right at the back. You'll find 2G on the second floor of the trendy Shibuya Parco shopping centre, but it’s easier to spot from the outside as the shop’s floor-to-ceiling windows are lined with rare Bearbrick dolls that any true collector would appreciate. 

Shop for T-shirts and phone cases with prints by Hajime Sorayama, as well as collectibles like Bearbricks and more. As for the gallery space, it features a constant rotation of Japanese and international artists including Tetsuya Nakamura and Daniel Arsham.

  • Art
  • Ginza

Tucked away in the shadow of Ginza’s glitzy department stores and designer boutiques is the Okuno Building, an old apartment complex built in the Showa era (1926-1989). An excellent example of early modernist architecture, the faithfully preserved building is like a time capsule, but with many units now housing antique shops and mini art galleries. If you want to see what life in the building used to look like back in the day, check out Room 306, which has been left as-is since its previous tenant moved out. 

Another highlight in the building is the Ginza Chuo Gallery on the fourth floor. Here you'll find temporary exhibitions of paintings, prints and photographs by Japanese artists. It even hosts the occasional workshop. Check the exhibition schedule here.

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  • Art
  • Omotesando

Who would have thought you’d find an art gallery in a Louis Vuitton store? The luxury fashion label transformed the seventh floor of its Jun Aoki-designed Omotesando store into an art gallery back in 2011 and it’s a stunner. While it’s worth visiting just for the architecture, the contemporary art exhibitions here have always been fresh and exciting, curated by the brand’s art and culture arm Fondation Louis Vuitton. 

Previous solo exhibitions here include shows by Jesus Rafael Soto, Christian Boltanski, collaborative art duo Gilbert & George, as well as group shows showcasing works by artists from Finland, India and Japan. American artist Rashid Johnson is exhibiting his works for the first time in Japan at Espace until September 25.

  • Art
  • Ginza

Another art space in a luxury fashion store, Le Forum is tucked away on the eighth floor of the Hermès Ginza flagship store designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The spacious gallery is constructed from glass blocks, thus allowing soft natural light to filter through and open up the space, while the high ceiling makes it perfect for installations. 

There is no entry charge here and exhibitions are organised by the Fondation D'entreprise Hermès whose aim is to cultivate public interest in art as well as protecting the environment. There are usually three contemporary art shows scheduled per year, with a focus on French artists. The next show is scheduled for June.

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