The Japanese aesthetic is the sum of many parts, each wonderful in their own right. Ancient history, traditional art forms, architecture, design and landscaped gardens. These things may not immediately come to mind when you think of Tokyo, but there are plenty of hidden cultural gems all over this sprawling metropolis. And one of our favourite spots, encompassing all of those elements, is Nezu Museum. 

Ancient Art and Tranquil Gardens at Nezu Museum

Located in the Minato ward, the Nezu Museum is within walking distance of the neighbourhoods Roppongi and Omotesando. It also forms part of our Aoyama architecture walking tour which can be viewed here. Originally opened in 1941, the current version of Nezu Museum was designed by local superstar Kengo Kuma and re-opened in 2009.  

Ancient Art and Tranquil Gardens at Nezu Museum

Traditional and Ancient Asian Artworks

The museum features thousands of Japanese and East Asian pre-modern works in a sleek, pared back setting. In the permanent collection, you’ll find things like traditional calligraphy, ceramics, textiles, paintings and Buddhist art. There is even a gallery dedicated solely to the tea ceremony. On top of this, Nezu Museum hosts several special exhibitions throughout the year. 

Ancient Art and Tranquil Gardens at Nezu Museum

The building is double storey with works displayed over both floors and English explanations provide context for your viewing. To get an idea of what you’re likely to see, you can experience a virtual tour on their website. Great though it that may be, there’s something special about being physically up close and personal to these ancient artefacts.  

Ancient Art and Tranquil Gardens at Nezu Museum

Natural wonders in the garden

Once you’ve treated your mind, make your way outdoors to soothe your heart and soul in the 17,000 square meter garden. Featuring streams and ponds, bridges, statues and tea houses, this Japanese landscape garden is a peaceful activity to complement the museum. Originally designed in the early 1900s, the garden was later put back together after the World War II bombings, and is once again a green, urban oasis.

Ancient Art and Tranquil Gardens at Nezu Museum
Not just art, there is also a beautiful garden!

Here, you can enjoy the garden year-round because nature always puts on a show. In the garden, you’ll find Iris, Maple and a small bamboo grove, among many other natural treats.  

Beautiful stone paths
Statue outside a tea house in the garden
Statue outside a teahouse.

There are more treats to be found in the garden at NEZUCAFÉ. With windows on three sides, it’a a great place to enjoy a matcha or light lunch while reflecting on the art or admiring the landscape. On your way out of Nezu Museum, don’t forget to stop by the museum shop, where you can pick up all kinds of things ranging from books to postcards, fans and pottery. 

If you don’t have a chance to get out of the city, a visit to the Nezu Museum with its ancient wonders, modern architecture and peaceful garden is a great way to experience the Japanese aesthetic. Your mind, body and soul will thank you!

Getting to Nezu Museum 

Take the Ginza, Hanzomon or Chiyoda Line to Omotesando station. From there, it’s:
– An 8-minute walk from Exit A5 (stairs only).
– A 10-minute walk from Exit B4 (escalator available)
– A 10-minute walk from Exit B3 (elevator and escalator).

Name: Nezu Museum
Address: 6 Chome-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo (link)
Open: 10:00am until 5:00pm (last entry 4:30pm).
Closed: Mondays, the New Year period and between exhibitions.
URL: here

Post by Japan Journeys.