Sumida Hokusai Museum

Art, Galleries Ryogoku
2 out of 5 stars
(1user review)

Spending a day in Ryogoku became even more of a necessity for tourists from November 2016, when the neighbourhood that already housed the Edo-Tokyo Museum and the Kokugikan saw the opening of a museum dedicated entirely to Edo-era Sumida's most famous son – ukiyo-e superstar Katsushika Hokusai. In addition to viewing displays of the woodblock print wizard's countless masterpieces, you can learn about Hokusai the man, his life in Sumida and what the city looked like between 1760, when Hokusai was born in Katsushika, and 1849, when he died and was buried at Seikyoji Temple in Asakusa. Visitors will also want to check out the full-scale master's atelier, a reconstruction based on a painting by Hokusai apprentice Iitsu Tsuyuki.


Venue name: Sumida Hokusai Museum
Address: 2-7-2 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku

Opening hours: 9.30am-5.30pm / closed Mon (Tue if Mon is a holiday)
Transport: Ryogoku Station (Sobu, Oedo lines)
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

2 / 5

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I visited  Sanaa's Hokusai Museum in Tokyo. I think the building itself is quite beautiful. The brushed metal clad facade and triangular cut wedges are proportionately well balanced, but that's where it all stops.

SANAA, Kazuyo Sejima and Rye Nishizawa received the Pritzker prize in 2010 for being "deceptively simple" and for their architecture which "stands out in direct contrast with the bombastic".
Ironically great care has been taken by the Sumida-ward who runs the museum to destroy the simplicity of the spaces. Signs and cones are placed everywhere in order to attend people of the sloped walls, windows and staircases, corners. 
The programme is rather odd with a toilet right next to the entrance reception. The reception desk, umbrella stands, and other signage are a mere afterthought and don't seem to have been part of the original design. Furthermore, circulation with the main exhibition hall being on the 4th floor and accessible by only two small lifts seems to be problematic as well.
It does not look like that Sumida can count on a Bilbao-effect with this building. I'm also curious to know how much Sanaa was involved in the discussion of the programme.Here is a video I made of the visit: