Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center - Event space: Asakusa
[Open 9am-8pm (rooftop and cafe -10pm) daily.]
Rising from a relatively narrow (326-square-meter) plot, the seven-story structure is fashioned as a series of irregular horizontal planes stacked precariously on top of each other, with several of the levels bounded by distinctive-looking walls of...
Edo-Tokyo Museum - Museum: Ryogoku
[Open 9:30am-5:30pm (enter by 5pm; Saturdays -7:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
This excellent museum is devoted to the history of Tokyo, formerly known as Edo. Entering the museum via escalator from the third-floor plaza below is an inspiring experience - the massive structure seems to hover several stories over the plaza like...
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo - Art museum: Kiyosumi-Shirakawa
[Open 10am-6pm (enter by 5:30). Closed Mondays.]
One of Tokyo's best art museums, the MOT puts on well-curated exhibitions showcasing international artists, architecture, design and fashion. The permanent collection is also worth a visit, and the museum's cafe and restaurant are above average. ...
Nakagin Capsule Tower - Notable building: Ginza
The Nakagin Capsule Tower is the most important built example of Metabolism, the Japanese avant-garde architectural movement. The building embodies Metabolist theory, which suggests that cities should mimic biological systems to adapt to rapid...
Nezu Museum - Art museum: Omotesando
[Open 10am-5pm (enter until 4:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
Pre-modern art from Japan, China, and other Asian countries is the focus of the collection here, with some 7000 items including painting and sculpture, calligraphy, ceramics and lacquerware. The stunning building was designed by architect Kengo...
St. Mary's Cathedral - Notable building: Edogawabashi
Designed by Kenzo Tange and completed in 1964, St. Mary's has come to be known as a landmark of twentieth-century Tokyo architecture. The concrete structure is clad in stainless steel, and the swooping, parabolic curves of the walls evoke the image...
Tokyo International Forum - Notable building: Marunouchi
Designed by New York architect Rafael Vinoli and completed in 1997, TIF contains two theaters and 6,000 square meters of exhibition space as well as restaurants and shops. At the heart of the complex is a sixty-meter-high, hull-shaped glass and...
Yoyogi National Gymnasium - Notable building: Harajuku
Designed by architect Kenzo Tange, this elegant structure, with its dramatically sweeping profile, has become an iconic work of modern architecture. It was completed in 1964, built specifically for the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
More buildings around town
Ao - Shopping complex: Omotesando
With its striking silhouette, this shopping and office complex stands out against the Aoyama skyline. The building was completed in 2009, designed by the architectural firm of Sakakura Associates.
Fuji Television Headquarters Building - Attraction: Daiba
[Open 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays.]
Designed by architect Kenzo Tange, the Fuji TV building has become a landmark of the Odaiba area thanks to its unusual silhouette. The giant floating ball is set at a height of around 100 meters, and it houses a small observation deck offering an...
GA Gallery - Art gallery: Sendagaya
[Open noon-6:30pm daily.]
Despite their compact gallery space, the Global Architecture Gallery puts on some excellent exhibitions focusing on contemporary Japanese and international architecture. There's also a very well stocked architecture bookstore.
GYRE - Notable building: Harajuku
Echoing the spiral forms of Fumihiko Maki's Spiral Building and Tadao Ando's Omotesando Hills nearby, the design of this shopping complex is based on the concept of five boxes stacked on top of each other and rotated around a central core, forming a...
Komaba Campus II, Tokyo University - Notable building: Komaba-Todaimae
Completed in January 2001, the Komaba Campus II buliding of Tokyo University is the work of architect Hiroshi Hara, who was also responsible for the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka and Kyoto Station. The massive building is a few city blocks in length,...
Maison Hermes - Notable building: Ginza
The slender, 12-meter-wide building housing the Tokyo flagship store of the French fashion house is covered with 13,000 custom-fabricated glass blocks. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the building was completed in 2001. A small art gallery...
National Art Center, Tokyo - Art museum: Nogizaka
[Open 10am-6pm. Closed Tuesdays.]
While the museum doesn't have a permanent collection, there are usually several small exhibitions going on at any given time, focusing on ceramics, photography, drawings and paintings. The strikingly original building was designed by architect...
National Noh Theater - Theater: Sendagaya
This strikingly modern building is a venue for performances of Noh and Kyogen. The auditorium seats 591 people; there is also a reference library, exhibition area and cafeteria.
Nicolas G. Hayek Center - Notable building: Ginza
The innovative headquarters building of the Swatch Group in Japan is the work of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who is known for implementing outside-the-box concepts such as buildings made from paper tubes. Completed in 2007, the greenery-covered...
Omotesando Hills - Shopping complex: Harajuku
This very stylish seven-story shopping and restaurant complex features mostly small boutiques and luxury brands. The structure was designed by architect Tadao Ando and completed in 2006.
Pigment - Retail: Tennozu Isle
[Open 11am-8pm. Closed Mondays, Thursdays.]
Tokyo's most gorgeous art supply store, designed by architect Kengo Kuma, may tempt you to pick up a paintbrush, just for an excuse to shop here. The wall of pigments took a full week of chromatic coordination to get right, and they stock more than...
Prada - Notable building: Omotesando
[Open 11am-8pm daily.]
This stunning building is the work of the Swiss architectural firm of Herzog & de Meuron.
Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center - Notable building: Ginza
One of architect Kenzo Tange's most iconic buildings, this early example of Metabolist architecture was completed in 1967 and occupies a prominent corner location just north of Shimbashi station. Built on a triangular site that's only 189 square...
Spiral Building - Notable building: Omotesando
Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki designed this Aoyama landmark, which was completed in 1985. There is an excellent design shop on the second floor.
Terrazza Aoyama - Notable building: Gaienmae
Designed by architect Kiyoshi Takeyama of the Amorphe firm and completed in 1991, this five-story building occupies a 1,800-square-meter plot of land, and has four basement levels. There's an appealing triangular open space created by the...
Tod's Omotesando - Notable building: Harajuku
The curving, organic-looking shapes of the glass and concrete facade are inspired by the zelkova trees that line Omotesando. The building was designed by architect Toyo Ito and completed in 2004.
Tokyo Big Sight - Event space: Ariake
More than twelve million people a year visit the halls of this huge convention center, which hosts international conferences, trade shows and design festivals. Designed by the architectural firm of AXS Satow and completed in April 1996, the...
Tokyo Design Center - Notable building: Gotanda
[Most shops open 10am-6pm; closed Wednesdays.]
Designed by Italian architect Mario Bellini, the Tokyo Design Center was completed in 1991. The most prominent feature is a galleria passageway that cuts upward through the building diagonally, leading to a garden area sitting on a steep hill behind...
Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium - Sports facility: Sendagaya
This futuristic-looking building by architect Fumihiko Maki looks like a cross between a spaceship and a samurai helmet. Facilities include two swimming pools and a training gym; there's also a cafe and a French restaurant on the premises.
Watarium Building - Notable building: Gaienmae
The Watarium Building, housing a small art museum and bookstore, was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. It opened in 1990.
Osanbashi - Notable building: Yokohama Nihon-Odori
[Open 9am-9:30pm (rooftop 24 hours) daily.]
Osanbashi Yokohama International Passenger Terminal is an inspiring piece of architecture and an exciting addition to Yokohama's vibrant waterfront. The undulating rooftop, with its natural grass lawns and deck finished in Brazilian wood, feels...
Yokohama Museum of Art - Art museum: Yokohama Minato-mirai
[Open 10am-6pm. Closed Thursdays.]
The focus here is primarily on twentieth-century modern art, with works by Dali, Picasso, Cezanne and Magritte as well as notable Japanese artists. Several special exhibitions are held each year. The museum building was designed by Pritzker...
See also our section on architecture and design.