I’ve posted about a number of Tokyo museums over the past few months (sorry if this is getting boring) but among my favourite has to be Nezu Museum (根津美術館) in the decidedly ‘old money’ neighbourhood of Aoyama which combines a stunning modern building with a beautiful traditional Japanese garden.
Almost hidden from view with a tall wall on one side and a gorgeous bamboo screen at the front one might be forgiven for mistaking Nezu Museum for the residence of a rich Tokyoite and in fact, this isn’t far from the truth.
Founded in 1940, the museum houses the private collection of the prominent industrialist Nezu Kaichirō (1860–1940) who established a foundation in his will to preserve his holdings of Japanese and other Asian pre-modern arts.
Along with donations from other collectors, the museum comprises more than 7,400 objects including calligraphy, painting, sculpture, ceramics, lacquer, metalwork, bamboo crafts and textiles.
In 2009 the museum building was completely redesigned by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma whose enormous tiled roof rises all the way from the eaves over the bamboo pathway to the apex two floors above.
The expansive interior is connected to the exterior garden by huge glass walls which cast ever-changing shadows within the space.
The vaulted atrium is filled with Buddhist sculptures.
A seating area on the second floor provides the perfect spot to think in front of a framed sliver of the luscious garden below
Even the angular wooden benches reflect the geometry of the building.
Beyond the glass lies 1.8 hectares of greenery, pathways, ponds, waterfalls, stone statues and tea houses.
Looking back at the museum building you get a sense of the modern structure subtly reflecting a more traditional Japanese aesthetic.
The garden is wonderful a maze begging to be explored and filled with all sorts of curious artefacts.
As with all good Japanese gardens, every step brings with it a new perspective and opportunity to daydream.
Even if museums aren’t your thing, with its stunning garden and exhibition space, Nezu would be an absolute must on my list of places to visit in Tokyo.