Nezu Museum and garden in Minami Aoyama

Nezu Museum sits on 20,000 sq.m. of sprawling site in Minami Aoyama and is home to Nezu Kaichiro’s collection of premodern Japanese and East Asian art. Nezu Kaichiro known as Railway King whose career included being president of the Tōbu Railway started his collection with tea ceremony artifacts and expanded into paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, lacquerware and archeological treasures.

This private museum is the perfect kick-off for the walking tour of Minami Aoyama, neighborhood of star architect retail shops, Italian furniture showrooms and cafes of all shape and form.  Indeed the site is across the road from Miele showroom and doors down from B&B Italia and Flexform.  It also just a few steps south of Blue Note for a quick swing-by with the 630pm gig if you’re starting the evening early.

Main museum building was designed by Kengo Kuma of Suntory Museum of Art (Tokyo) and LVMH Japan headquarters fame.  The approach into the museum from the main road follows a cantilever covered corridor with bamboo fence on the roadside and timber wall on the other.

bamboo fence and walkway into museum entrance creates complete enclosure from the main road

The big, minimal Kuma signature roof line dominates the museum. Kuma’s roofs are abstractions of traditional Japanese architecture, overhanging eaves shelter and shade from the exterior while creating a vast and lofty interior space freeing up imagination for function. Indoor ceiling is clad with long wood panels creating a sense of warmth and protection under the huge roof.

Big, minimal roof is a Kuma signature

Museum is surrounded by Japanese garden and duck ponds rich with trees and plants designed to reflect the four seasons. Lush bamboo groves boast its resilience in the coldest months keeping the garden green in all seasons.  Four tea houses are dotted around the grounds are named and labelled on garden maps but not allowed entry.

Small museum shop packs in more quality object d’art than any of its peers from paper cards of all ingenious designs and shapes, traditional ceramics and lacquerware, furoshiki (traditional wrapping fabric) and of course coffee table books.  Museum is worth the visit just for gift shopping.  Just at the entrance of the garden is a glass encased, light and airy cafe (NEZUCAFE) serving Japanese style western meals (read pastry, salad and pasta).

Nezu Museum  6-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062

Tue through Sun 10am – 5pm

NezuCafe last order 415pm

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