This year, Roppongi’s art cred was raised to new heights with the opening of the Complex665 building (6-5-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku), which houses a trifecta of influential galleries: Tomio Koyama, ShugoArts and Taka Ishii. The building sits on a residential back street tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Roppongi, but is hard to miss thanks to what appears to be a squiggle painted on its side. This symbol is the logo designed for Complex665 by artist Yoshihisa Tanaka, who imagined how a ‘fictional artist named 665 might sign their own work’.
A major player in Tokyo’s contemporary art scene, Tomio Koyama Gallery
moved into the second floor of the building from their previous location in Sendagaya, employing young architects Toru Murayama and Ayako Kato to design their new two-room exhibition space. They represent an impressive roster of artists in Japan, including wunderkind photographer Ryan McGinley, American post-minimalist Richard Tuttle and Yoko Ono.
Also on the second floor is ShugoArts
, who have championed the avant-garde of Japanese art since the mid-’80s. Their gallery was designed by architect Jun Aoki, also responsible for facelifting the façade of the Louis Vuitton building in Ginza. Unlike their flatmates, ShugoArts keep the shop open on Sundays.
Calling dibs on the top bunk are Taka Ishii Gallery
, who represent heavy-hitters like Elmgreen & Dragset, Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama and Thomas Demand. Furniture and interior design gurus Broadbean, whose offices occupy the ground floor, were enlisted to design the sleek gallery space on the third floor, which wonderfully feeds off natural light coming in from the plant terrace.
If you’ve enjoyed killing a whole flock of birds with one stone, then head over to the Piramide Building (6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku
), which is another great example of the tried-and-tested ‘power in numbers’ model of art collectives. Leading galleries Ota Fine Arts
and Wako Works of Art
are among its famous tenants.
Rising above the rest both in height and, arguably, in might, the 238-metre Roppongi Hills Mori Tower is home to the Mori Art Museum
, which holds some of Tokyo’s most ambitious and influential exhibitions. A retrospective dedicated to the Indian artist N S Harsha will be unveiled in February 2017.
The brainchild of fashion (and fragrance) designer Issey Miyake and fellow design greats Taku Satoh and Naoto Fukasawa, 21_21 Design Sight
more than underscores Roppongi’s role as the focal point of Tokyo’s art scene. The common focus of their ever-changing lineup of exhibitions is interdisciplinary design.
The National Art Center (NACT)
, designed by Kisho Kurokawa of Nakagin Capsule Tower fame, boasts the largest exhibition space of any museum in Japan. Unlike most of its counterparts, NACT is an ‘empty museum’, which means it does not have a permanent collection, instead choosing to commission one-off exhibitions – their Monet show was the second most visited exhibition in the world in 2007.
Located in Tokyo Midtown and designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, the Suntory Museum of Art
possesses the biggest collection of Japanese arts and crafts in the country, comprised of a whopping 3,000-plus objects. Their tea ceremonies, staged on the sixth floor every second Thursday, are a must do.
And for the ‘Peanuts’ fans out there, Roppongi has a Snoopy Museum
, showcasing Charles M Schulz’s original drawings and art for the beloved series. A number of the cartoonist’s early works, vintage collectibles and other materials are also on display.