When the Tokyo frenzy becomes too heavy or stressful, there are places where you can escape, settle down and reconnect with your senses. We’ve found you three sleek and calm museums that showcase Japanese art, to which we have associated equally soothing and beneficial cafés located next door.

Come in, breathe…

Harajuku: Ota Museum of Art and Sorama Café

A stone’s throw from the bustling Omotesando Dori is the Ota Museum of Art. This small house does not look like much from the outside, but you will find an impressive collection of ukiyo-e artwork there. In fact, there are more than 12,000 pieces in total, all acquired by the collector Seizo Ota. They were gathered in the museum for its opening in 1980, three years after Ota’s death.

The prints are the subject of thematic rotating exhibitions in order to discover all their wonders month after month. Hokusai and his rivals, animals in ukiyo-e, transportation and many other themes give guests the opportunity to marvel at the pieces and then return to them as soon as the need for beauty arises.

Throughout the three rooms, there are major household artists but also lesser-known ones, both ancient and modern. Guests are often enchanted by the finesse of the lines and the harmony of the colors. They learn to recognize the touch of each artist and travel through the landscapes of the Tokaido Road, kabuki rooms and interiors of Japanese houses over the centuries. 

Also, don’t miss the beautiful tenugui shop in the basement. The elongated fabrics with seasonal patterns are particularly impressive.

Crossing the street, you can then go and enjoy a delicious coffee or one of the best matcha drinks in Tokyo at Sorama Café. The homemade biscuits (oatmeal cookies, shortbreads with changing flavors each day) are delicious too.

Ebisu: Yamatane Museum of Art and its Matcha and Wagashi Café

You’ll need to sweat a bit to climb to the street from Ebisu Station to the Yamatane Museum of Art, but it’s worth it. This is a spacious museum dedicated to modern Japanese nihonga paintings. It’s hidden behind an accordion-style facade. The works and the visitors have a lot of space. It gives people a chance to admire the paintings slowly, look from afar, or approach to scrutinize them in detail.

There’s also the museum shop that offers beautiful postcards of the works and many other lovely objects. As for the café, there’s no need to go far as it’s inside the museum. Enjoy a matcha and wagashi set paying an impressive visual tribute to the works presented. A piece of art to admire before tasting.

More Info Website →
Closed on Mondays

Tokyo Midtown: Suntory Museum of Art and Toraya

Amid the towers of Roppongi is the shopping and cultural center of Tokyo Midtown, surrounded by greenery and known for its stunning Christmas lights. But do you know that it also houses a very classy museum?

The Suntory Museum of Art is a haven of peace all in blond wood and soft light. The exhibitions highlight various aspects of Japanese art including swords, Utamakura, Hokusai paintings and many other treasures sometimes coming from museums all around the world. The scenography is elaborate and the objects are well lit. Small netsuke almost seem to come to life on the stage. 

Leaving the museum, all you have to do is go down a few escalators to arrive at one of Tokyo’s Toraya tearooms. It’s easily recognizable due to its aesthetic white facade riddled with squares. Pass the noren and sit down at a table. A hojicha tea will immediately be served to you. Its smoky scent will take you far into the autumn forests. You can choose a matcha with its seasonal wagashi (flower, leaf, beautiful fruit), an anmitsu or a kakigori in summer. You can also have a rice-based lunch with delicious sides.

More Info Website →