Robert Indiana ‘Love’ sculpture in Shinjuku
Photo: Akulamatiau/Dreamstime‘Love’ by Robert Indiana

18 best public art sculptures in Tokyo

Tokyo has plenty of art installations in public spaces, including works by Lee Ufan, Kohei Nawa, Roy Lichtenstein and more


For art lovers, Tokyo is one of the top destinations in Asia with countless museums, contemporary art galleries and exhibitions. But that doesn’t mean you need to pay a premium to see some of the best art in the city – heck, to see these masterpieces, you don’t even have to go indoors. Here’s our list of some of the best outdoor art around town.

RECOMMENDED: Explore the best outdoor art museums and parks in Japan

Art and the city

Tokujin Yoshioka 'Star'

Sitting at the entrance of the new Tokyo Midtown Yaesu complex is the striking 10m-tall 'Star' by Tokujin Yoshioka. The impressive sculpture is made from over 2,000 mirrored and octogonal stainless steel rods, thus giving it a luminous, sparking effect when the sunlight hits. From morning until evening, the Star reflects the surrounding sky, changing its radiance throughout the day.


Lee Ufan 'Relatum'

You'll find this installation by Korean artist Lee Ufan outside the Tokyo Big Sight West Exhibition Hall in Ariake. 'Relatum' is a prime example of Ufan's minimalist works, which are usually crafted from natural materials such as wood and stone. This particular piece is semi-submerged in a shallow pool of water, and there's plenty of benches around it for you to sit on and admire the artwork. To see the installation from a different perspective, catch the view from the second floor of the West Exhibition Hall.

Roy Lichtenstein ‘Tokyo Brushstrokes’

In Nishi-Shinjuku you’ll find two colourful installations by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. The towering sculptures recreate the artist’s signature bold brushstrokes reminiscent of comic and manga graphics.

The two pieces are constructed from painted aluminium and rendered in eye-catching primary colours that stand out against the grey city streets. ‘Tokyo Brushstroke I’ features four vertical lines rising up to the sky while 'Tokyo Brushstroke II' depicts two upward strokes with a small white splash on top.


Daniel Buren ‘25 Porticos: The Colour and its Reflections’

This installation by French conceptual artist Daniel Buren is located along a spacious walkway between two apartment blocks in Odaiba Marine Park. Overlooking Tokyo Bay, the artwork is made up of 25 striped porticos, or gateways, installed at intervals – they come in various heights and colours, with the two ends featuring mirrored walls. When standing between them, the structures elegantly frame the nearby surroundings.

Leandro Erlich ‘Cloud’

This piece by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich doubles as an optical illusion of sorts and is stunning to visit during the day, but even more so at night when it’s lit up with LED lights. The piece sits outside the Iino Building in Kasumigaseki and gives this otherwise business-centric area a whimsical touch. Known simply as ‘Cloud’, the installation features a cloud floating inside a glass box, which is created by carefully lining up ten pieces of glass stained with ceramic ink.


Kohei Nawa ‘White Deer’

This stunning deer installation by Kohei Nawa is a permanent fixture at Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho. Standing at 6m in height, the animal is a beautiful contrast with the historical Akasaka Prince Classic House in the background. Often considered as sacred animals in Shinto and Buddhism, this deer was brought to life by using 3D scanning technology. The sculpture was first unveiled at the 2017 Reborn Art Festival before finding a home in Kioicho.

Kimiyo Mishima ‘Work 2012’

This larger-than-life trash can by Japanese artist Kimiyo Mishima is located in front of Toyoko Inn Tokyo on Tennozu Isle. The 2.5m-high trash can is inspired by the large amounts of consumer waste that we produce on a daily basis. You’ll even recognise many of the brands in the ‘garbage’ such as Coca Cola and Asahi beer. Mishima's work turns consumers’ everyday garbage into breakable pieces of art – each piece of trash is made from fragile ceramic.

  • Art
  • Outdoor art
  • Nishi-Shinjuku

A public installation by renowned American artist Robert Indiana, this large expression of love can be found outside the entrance of Shinjuku i-Land. The work is a sculptural recreation of Indiana's famed typographical pop art image of the 1960s, and has grown to include a series of similar installations scattered across various cities in the world, including New York, Bilbao, Taipei and of course, Tokyo.

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  • Roppongi

One of the city’s most iconic outdoor sculptures, Louise Bourgeois’ ‘Maman’ (‘Mum’ in French) at Roppongi Hills greets visitors to the Mori Art Museum. Towering over 10.23m high, this massive spider was created as a tribute to Bourgeois’ mother (both weavers, you see). ‘Maman’ comes complete with a sac of marble eggs attached to her body, and she has siblings too, which you can find spidering around at the National Gallery of Canada, the Guggenheim in Spain, London’s Tate Modern, and the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul.


Hiroshi Sugimoto ‘Sundial’

Part of Sugimoto's Mathematical Models series, this towering sundial is located in the heart of Otemachi outside Otemachi Place. Standing 11m tall, the sleek aluminum structure is Sugimoto's way of showcasing mathematical equations as real, physical objects. The artist has a number of public artworks on display around the capital including another sundial at Oak Omotesando.

Jaume Plensa ‘Roots’

You’ll find this eye-catching sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa outside Toranomon Hills in the Oval Plaza. The outdoor space is the ideal spot to show off this staggering 10m-high installation, which expresses global culture and the ties that bind people together. Titled ‘Roots’, the human-shaped sculpture is made up of characters from eight different languages including Japanese, Latin, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Hindi and Russian.

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  • Events & Festivals

teamLab Planets Tokyo in Toyosu features this monolith-like sculpture showcasing a digital waterfall. Last year, the sculpture was transformed into ‘Universe of Fire Particles Falling from the Sky’ and is free for anyone to see outside the museum. The monolith features bright red and orange flames tumbling down, similar to volcanic eruption. Like other teamLab artworks, it is also influenced by human presence. When a person steps onto the floor panel, the shape of the flames changes to create a ‘black absolute presence’ behind the person's feet. 

Hayao Miyazaki ‘Ni-Tele Really Big Clock’

Located outside the Nettle Tower in Shiodome, this massive copper and steel clock is designed by Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli. It's no surprise that it reminds us of something from his film ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. Come see this large mechanical clock in action at 12noon, 3pm, 6pm and 8pm (plus 10am on Sat, Sun and public holidays).




Those less fussed about fine art and more in the mood for tracking down the king of monsters should first make their way to Kabukicho, where a Godzilla head towers over the Toho Cinemas movie complex. For more Godzilla goodness, head to Hibiya Chanter Square, where a 1.2m-tall Godzilla has been guarding the area since 1994. 

Psst... Did you know you can walk up to the Godzilla head and see it up close? Here's how.

  • Things to do
  • Shinjuku

This large sculpture by Yoshiko Miyashita inside the passageway at Shinjuku Station witnesses over a million commuters pass by every day. The most eye-catching piece of public art in town, it’s been around since 1969. You can find this one inside Shinjuku Station below the Subaru Building. 


Works by Taro Okamoto

One of Japan’s most noted avant-garde artists, Taro Okamoto is perhaps best known for the ‘Tower of the Sun’ sculpture he contributed to Osaka during its famous 1970 Expo, but there are examples of his work scattered throughout Tokyo too. ‘Tree of Children’ (1985), a series of happy faces extending from tree branches, can be found, appropriately enough, in front of the National Children’s Castle in Aoyama (which unfortunately closed in early 2015).

Then there’s the ‘Young Clock Tower’ (1966), created four years before the Osaka Expo, which stands in Sukiyabashi Park in Ginza. Try to check it out in the evening, when its tendrils light up.

And perhaps the most impressive work on the list is ‘The Myth of Tomorrow’ (1969, pictured), a colossal depiction of an atomic bomb blast. Originally created in Mexico and long assumed to be lost, the 30m by 5.5m painting was found abandoned in a building materials yard in 2003 by Okamoto’s wife. Painstakingly restored over a period of three years, it can now be seen inside Shibuya Mark City at Shibuya Station.

Inges Idee ‘Growing Gardener’

This quirky, cheerful sculpture of a gnome dwarfed by his ludicrously long red hat is the work of German art collective Inges Idee and can be found near Osaki Station. He's a fun one to catch and will certainly bring a smile to your face – you can sometimes even spot him while you're passing Osaki Station on the JR Yamanote Line.

More art and culture attractions in Tokyo

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