Tsuwano, Shimane: Photo museum and more

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the small town of Tsuwano in Shimane Prefecture turned out to be a real delight. Surrounded by mountains, it feels like a Swiss resort in the Alps. It has traditional buildings and the famous Taikodani Inari Shrine. Very photogenic place easily accessible from JR Tsuwano Station (JR Yamaguchi Line).

Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum
Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum

Right near the train station is the Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum (桑原史成写真美術館) that exhibits photos by documentary photographer Shisei Kuwabara who is from Tsuwano. The museum also houses the local tourist information office. So it should be your first stop when you arrive. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/r8cR2ueCayM2

Shisei Kuwabara (b. 1936) is most famous for his Minamata disease photos (like W. Eugene Smith).

Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum
Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum
Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum
Inside Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum.

The Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum has only one exhibition room, not huge, but it’s large enough. The museum was originally a documentary photo museum and they asked Kuwabara if they could rename it in 2004. So it exhibits mainly his photos, although it does not preserve or possess his photos. So it’s just an exhibition space. The exhibited photos change periodically. Open 9 am–5 pm, closed on the third Thursday in Jan., April, July, and Oct. when they change the exhibit. Admission ¥300 for adults.

Website: http://www.town.tsuwano.lg.jp/kuwabara_photo/info.html

Anno Art Museum
Anno Art Museum

Right across the street from the photo museum is an art museum dedicated to another local artist (illustrator) named Mitsumasa Anno. Anno Art Museum (安野光雅美術館) opened in 2001 to show artworks by Mitsumasa Anno who was born and raised in Tsuwano.

The first floor is the main exhibition space of Anno Art Museum. The second floor has an old-style classroom (from 1920s design), planetarium, and library.

After seeing the museums, enter Tono-machi road (殿町通り) lined with traditional buildings. You can enter a few of the buildings like the Japan Heritage Center (small local museum) and the Tsuwano Catholic Church (津和野カトリック教会) dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier who visited Japan as a Christian missionary in 1549–50.

Japan Heritage Center’s display of Sagimai White Heron Dance.
Tsuwano Catholic Church (津和野カトリック教会)

At the end of Tono-machi road, there’s a road going to Taikodani Inari Jinja, one of Japan’s Top Five Inari Shinto shrines noted for many vermillion torii gates along the path to the shrine. This is Tsuwano’s main attraction.

Taikodani Inari Jinja
Taikodani Inari Jinja

Similar to Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Taikodani Inari Shrine has many vermilion torii gates on the way up to the shrine. If you cannot walk up, there is a road for cars that goes to the shrine as well. The path of toriis zigzags up the hill. It’s fun to climb up and enjoy the views.

Taikodani Inari Jinja
Taikodani Inari Jinja
Taikodani Inari Jinja’s Haiden Hall.

The shrine worships Uka-no-Mitama, a deity associated with food and agriculture, and the goddess Izanami. It is Shimane Prefecture’s second most popular shrine after Izumo Taisha. 

If you’ve come this far, you might as well also see the remains of Tsuwano Castle which is a short hike from the shrine. Or walk to novelist Mori Ogai’s birth home across the river.

Tsuwano Castle
Tsuwano Castle on a mountain.
Mori Ogai'
Mori Ogai’s birth home (森鴎外旧宅).

To see the main sights of Tsuwano, give yourself at least one full day. You should arrive in Tsuwano and stopover the night before. I loved Tsuwano. Laid back and not crowded. Really worth a visit.

More Tsuwano photos here: https://photoguide.jp/pix/index.php?cat=351

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography reopens as Tokyo Photographic Art Museum

20160928_6704After two years of major renovations from Sept. 2014 to Aug. 2016, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography reopened on September 3, 2016 for its 20th anniversary.

The building and location are the same, but the English name (nickname) has been changed to “Tokyo Photographic Art Museum” abbreviated as “TOP Museum” as indicated by their new URL (topmuseum.jp) and logo/letterhead. This is the third time that they changed their  URL. The previous URL was syabi.com. When they changed the URL the last time, it was a pain to update links, etc. Now we have to do it again. This has been a common phenomenon in Japan, among local governments and governmental organizations whose URLs have changed a number of times, wreaking havoc on your bookmarks/favorites. I shall continue to call it the “Tokyo photography museum.” Won’t use any nicknames that keep changing.


Note that the museum’s Japanese and official (legal) name remains the same as Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography or Tokyo-to Shashin Bijutsukan (東京都写真美術館). And so, only the English-speaking world will be burdened with the task of mentioning both the old and new museum names whenever we write or talk about it during the next several years at least. Like “Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (formerly Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography).”

Entrance hall

Entrance hall at south (back) entrance and museum shop.

The museum’s major renovations included the replacement of lights with LEDs, new flooring replacing the carpeting, a second elevator, and a renovated cafe and museum gift shop. If you’ve visited the museum before, the biggest noticeable change is the 1st floor and the museum shop (Nadiff bookstore) that has moved from the 1st floor (where the main entrance/exit is) to the 2nd floor entrance hall of the south/back entrance.

It’s a wise move space-wise, but a museum’s gift shop should always be on the way to the exit. Very few people will exit the museum through the south entrance which is on the opposite side from Ebisu Station, the closest train/subway station. Although you can enter the museum through the south entrance without a ticket, they do not sell exhibition admission tickets here. You need to go downstairs to the 1st floor to buy admission tickets.

Entrance hall looking toward the door.

Entrance hall looking toward the south (back) entrance. The museum shop (Nadiff bookstore) is on the left.

Entrance hall

Overhead view of the entrance hall. There are chairs and tables for people to rest or hang out. Admission ticket not necessary.

I’ve said this before, but this large entrance hall is a waste of space. It’s good for exhibition openings and other events, but for most of the year, few people come through here. I was hoping that they would renovate this space better, but looks like it will continue to inflate their air-conditioning bill. A similar problem exists at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo in Kiba Park that first opened at around the same time. These museums were planned and built during the reckless economic bubble of the late 1980s when people thought the sky was the limit.


On the renovated 1st floor, this is where the museum shop used to be. The museum shop space has merged with the cafe.

1st floor

1st floor ticket counter

The 1st floor is the main entrance to the museum, the closest to JR Ebisu Station. The 1st floor interior has been completely renovated with new flooring, wallpaper, and lighting. Looks very nice. It’s also the lobby of the museum’s event hall where they mainly screen movies. I bought an admission ticket here and there was a staff person at the entrance telling visitors to buy a ticket at the ticket counter a few steps away. Then another lady at the front of the line told me when a ticket clerk was available. There were only two ticket clerks selling tickets. Then I received a complicated explanation about various ticket prices. I just said “I want to see all the exhibitions and will pay in cash.” (There’s a separate admission for each of the exhibitions and a discount if you use a certain credit card. If you’re age 65 or older, you get a discount. The movie in the event hall is another ticket.) The ticket for all the exhibitions was ¥1,620 in September 2016. Ticket prices vary depending on the exhibitions.


If you want to see everything in the museum, take the elevator to the 4th floor and work your way down (use the stairs to go down). The 4th floor is the small library open to the public for free. Ticket not required. The library looks basically the same as before. You can read Japanese and overseas photo magazines and books. You can also search for books in the closed stacks with the computer terminal, but you need to read Japanese. No books can be taken out of the library. The 3rd and 2nd floors are large exhibition rooms. Show your ticket to enter the exhibition. The 2nd floor also has the spacious entrance hall and museum shop. The main exhibition is on the 3rd and 2nd floors. Then take the elevator or stairs to the basement floor (B1) where there is another large exhibition room usually for a different exhibition. (Photography is not allowed inside the exhibition rooms.) The 1st floor is where you exit to go back to Ebisu Garden Place or JR Ebisu Station.

3rd floor exhibition room lobby.

3rd floor exhibition room lobby.


The museum has three exhibition rooms on three floors and an event hall (mainly movies) on the 1st floor. When the museum reopened in September 2016, photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto had an intriguing Lost Human Genetic Archive exhibition on the 3rd and 2nd floors, the basement floor showed World Press Photos sponsored by Canon, and the event hall on the 1st floor screened a movie about Mother Teresa.

Renamed museum.

Renamed museum.

This is what you see when you approach the museum from JR Ebisu Station via the Skywalk moving sidewalk. Go left to enter main entrance. You can also enter from the right side after passing the cafe. It is in a corner of Ebisu Garden Place, a shopping mall.

Museum website (English)
Museum hours
Directions from Ebisu Station



Canon Gallery S

Canon Gallery S, Tokyo

List of photo exhibition venues and camera museums in Japan according to prefecture in alphabetical order. These galleries and museums are dedicated mainly to photography or they hold a photo exhibition on a regular basis. Most do not have information in English. Prefecture names are linked to Google Maps. Also read the PhotoSpaces FAQ.

Updated: Nov. 10, 2018


  • Canon Gallery Nagoya キヤノンギャラリー名古屋 Map – Near Fushimi Station, Exit 10.
  • Sony Store Nagoya ソニーストア名古屋
  • Nikon Plaza Nagoya ニコンプラザ名古屋 Map
  • Fujifilm Photo Salon Nagoya 富士フイルムフォトサロン名古屋 Map
  • Nagoya City Art Museum (Nagoya-shi Bijutsukan) 名古屋市美術館 – Opened in 1988, the museum is within Shirakawa Park. Mainly collects and shows paintings and prints. The photography collection centers on works by Nagoya photographers (members of the Nagoya Avant-Garde group from the late 1930s) and photographs of Mexico during the 1920s and ’30s. Holds photo exhibitions on occasion.Near three subway stations: Fushimi Station on the Higashiyama Line, get out Exit 5 and walk south for 8 minutes. Osu-kannon Station on the Tsurumai Line, get out Exit 1 and walk north for 7 minutes. Or Yabacho Station on the Meijo Line, get out Exit 4 exit and walk west for 10 minutes. Phone: (052) 212-0001
  • Wakita Gallery ワキタギャラリー – Located in a camera shop called Photo City Wakita. Near Kamimaetsu Station (Meijo or Tsurumai subway line) Exit 10. Phone: (052) 251-5226





  • Coal Pit コールピット
  • Fukushima City Museum of Photography (Hana no Shashinkan) (Fukushima-shi Shashin Bijutsukan) 花の写真館(福島市写真美術館) Map – Dedicated to flower photos. The permanent exhibition centers on Shotaro Akiyama’s donated works. Akiyama was one of Japan’s most famous photographers. He helped make nearby Hanamiyama park famous. A photo gallery for public use is also provided. 20-min. walk from JR Fukushima Station or catch a bus and get off at Hoken Fukushi Center. Phone: (024) 534-9777
  • Suehiro Classic Camera Museum 末廣クラシックカメラ博物館 – The museum is in a sake warehouse. Over 600 cameras are on display. Admission 300 yen. From Aizu-Wakamatsu Station, take a local bus to Otonamachi and walk 2 min. Phone: (0242) 27-0002



  • Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum 広島県立美術館
  • Kure Municipal Museum of Art (Kure Shiritsu Bijutsukan) 呉市立美術館 Map – Opened in 1982 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kure’s founding as a city. (“Kure” is pronounced KOO-ray.) The museum is in a park on a hill affording a great view of the harbor. There are also remnants of old military facilities in the same park. The photography collection was started in 1997, and it includes works by TOMATSU Shomei, NARAHARA Ikko, KIMURA Ihee, UEDA Shoji, HAGA Hideo (ocean-related festivals), and MIDORIKAWA Yoichi (Seto Inland Sea). The theme centers on the ocean and how people live with the ocean. 10 min. walk from JR Kure Station (30 min. from JR Hiroshima Station via the JR Kure Line). Phone: (0823) 25-2007


  • Canon Gallery Sapporo キヤノンギャラリー札幌 Map
  • Nikon Sapporo Service Center ニコン 札幌サービスセンター Map
  • Fujifilm Photo Salon Sapporo 富士フイルムフォトサロン札幌 Map
  • Photo Plaza 910 フォトプラザ910”(クドウ)フォトギャラリー Map
  • Higashikawa Bunka Gallery 東川町文化ギャラリー Map – Opened in 1989 and operated by Higashikawa-cho town that declared itself a “photo town” with an annual photo festival. The gallery is one of the main venues for the festival. Exhibits photos, sculptures, pictures and literary arts. It has over 1,200 photographs by famous Japanese photographers and overseas photographers who received the town’s photo awards in the past. They include UEDA Shoji, ISHIUCHI Miyako, HOSOE Eikoh, KON MIchiko, NARAHARA Ikko, ARAKI Nobuyoshi, SUGIMOTO Hiroshi, and HATAKEYAMA Naoya. The facility also has rental galleries.Fly to Asahikawa Airport (1 hour and 35 minutes from Tokyo Haneda airport) or take a train from Sapporo (1 hour and 20 minutes via limited express). From Asahikawa Airport, take a taxi (10 min.). From Asahikawa Station, take a bus to Higashikawa (40 min.). Phone: (0166) 82-4700
  • Kushiro Art Museum (English website) 北海道立釧路芸術館 – Opened in 1998, this large museum keeps a significant collection of photographs by well-known photographers such as SUGIMOTO Hiroshi, MORIYAMA Daido, FUKASE Masahisa, KAWADA Kikuji, TAHARA Keiichi, Kushiro native NAGAKURA Hiromi, and even Ansel Adams. 5-min. walk from JR Kushiro Station (walk south). Phone: (0154) 23-2381


  • Art Tower Mito (English website) – Contemporary Art Gallery in Ibaraki’s capital city of Mito. Be sure to go up the tower for great views of the city.


  • Shoko Shuseikan 尚古集成館 – Shimadzu family museum that opened in 1923. It has artifacts and materials tracing the history of the family. The Shimadzu (Shimazu) family was a samurai clan in Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima in southern Kyushu). In the mid-19th century, the clan was headed by Lord SHIMAZU Nariakira who acquired a daguerreotype camera from UENO Shunnojo-Tsunetari and experimented with it.In 1857, local scientist ICHIKI Shiro took a portrait of Lord SHIMAZU Nariakira, and this portrait is thought to be the oldest surviving daguerreotype taken by a Japanese photographer. It was discovered in 1975 by the Shimazu family in a warehouse. In 1999, the daguerreotype was designated as an “Important Cultural Property” by the Japanese government. It was the first photograph in Japan to be so designated. It is preserved at the Shuseikan.In 1858, Lord SHIMAZU is thought to have taken a collodian photograph of three women, titled “Three Princesses.” The image is also kept at the Shuseikan. After Nariakira, the next and last head of the Satsuma clan was Tadayoshi. He was also a shutterbug and his photos are preserved at the museum. From JR Nishi Kagoshima Station, 35 min. by Kagoshima City View bus. Get off at Sengan-en (Iso Teien). From Kagoshima Airport, 40 min. by taxi. Phone: (099) 247-1511


  • Yokohama Museum of Art (English website) 横浜美術館 Map – This large-scale museum (designed by Kenzo Tange) is one of the pavilions left over from the YES Expo held in 1989. It features a number of facilities such as an Art Library, Lecture Hall, Citizen’s Workshop room, observation deck, museum shop, and restaurant. There are several gallery spaces, one of which is dedicated to photography.The Yokohama Art Museum actively pursues to expand its photography collection. It especially seeks photos showing the history of photography in Japan and the world. Early portraiture, pictorialism, and modern works. Works by early photographers such as Talbot as well as contemporary photographers such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus, and Robert Capa as well. Works by Japanese photographers like Domon Ken and Kimura Ihei can also be viewed. Admission is 500 yen.The excellent Art Library, which has many photography-related books, is open to the public for free. See the Web site for English directions and map. Ten-minute walk from Sakuragi-cho Station (JR Negishi Line or Keihin Tohoku Line, municipal subway, Tokyu Toyoko Line). Phone: (045) 221-0300
  • Yokohama Archives of History (Yokohama Kaiko Shiryokan) 横浜開港資料館 – Established in June 1981, this museum includes a large collection of picture postcards and 19th century vintage photos of Yokohama and Kanagawa. The exhibition floor shows how Yokohama was opened up to the West. The building used to be the British Consulate. Exhibitions center on the history of Yokohama’s opening to overseas trade. The reading room is excellent for Yokohama photography research. 12-min. walk from Kannai Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line. You can also get off at Sakuragi-cho Station and take bus No. 8, 11, 20, or 58. Get off at Kencho-mae. The Archives is right across from the Kanagawa Prefectural Office (Kencho). Phone: (045) 201-2100
  • Earth Plaza あーすぷらざ (神奈川県立地球市民かながわプラザ)
  • Minato Mirai Gallery みなとみらいギャラリー【クイーンズスクエア横浜 クイーンモール2F】
  • Yokohama Civic Art Gallery Azamino 横浜市民ギャラリーあざみ野
  • mewe HASHIMOTO ミウィ橋本 5Fインナーガーデン – Venue for Photo City Sagamihara.
  • Kawasaki City Museum (Kawasaki-shi Shimin Museum) 川崎市市民ミュージアム –
    Opened in Nov. 1988, this large, imposing museum is somewhat out of the way, but well worth a visit. A few minutes by bus (for Shimin Museum) from Musashi Kosugi Station (JR Nanbu Line or Toyoko Line). It is within a large park called Todoriki Ryoku-chi. The 3-story museum’s collection includes photographs, posters, woodblock prints, videos, folk crafts, and historical artifacts like Jomon and Yayoi Period pottery dug up in Kawasaki.The museum’s collection includes photos taken in post-war Japan by 100 renown Japanese photographers such as Ueda Shoji, Akiyama Shotaro, Jumonji Bishin, and Araki Nobuyoshi. It also has a large collection of photographs by Hamaya Hiroshi. The museum holds photo exhibits in its dedicated photo gallery and major photo exhibits in a larger space. This museum was one of Japan’s first to dedicate museum space to photographs. Admission is 500 yen for the regular exhibits. Admission is free for the library and non-exhibition areas.The museum complex also has a darkroom, studio, workshop, video viewing space, and library. The library has a large collection of photo-related books. Most of the books are in closed stacks. You will have to check the library’s card catalog (all in Japanese) to find what you want to see, then fill out a short form. No materials can be taken out. Phone: (044) 754-4500




  • Ise Washi Gallery 伊勢和紙ギャラリー【大豐和紙工業内】
  • Toba Sea-Folk Museum 海の博物館 – Award-winning history museum showing how the local people worked and interacted with the sea. Many photos of ama women divers. From JR or Kintetsu Toba Station, take a bus (25 min. ride) and get off at Umi no Hakubutsukan-mae. Walk 7 min. Phone: (0599) 32-6006



  • Miyazaki Prefectural Art Museum 宮崎県立美術館 – Rental gallery, called Kenmin Gallery, offered for a low weekly rate. Application screening required. Located within a culture park (Bunka Koen). From Miyazaki Station, take a bus headed for Bunka Koen.


  • Aono Kyosuke Photo Art Gallery 青野恭典フォトアートギャラリー【かんてんぱぱホール内】Map
  • Yukio Tabuchi Memorial Museum (Tabuchi Yukio Kinenkan) 田淵行男記念館 Map – Opened in 1990 by the town of Toyoshina-machi and dedicated to the late TABUCHI Yukio, a mountaineer photographer and researcher of mountain butterflies. Mountain photos and mountain butterfly exhibitions. Admission charged. From Matsumoto Station take the JR Oito Line to Hakuyacho Station and walk 20-min. Phone: (0263) 72-9964


  • Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture (Nagasaki Rekishi Bunka Hakubutsukan) 長崎歴史文化博物館 – The museum’s collection centers on historical materials and artifacts related to Nagasaki’s trade relations with the Dutch and the Chinese during the Edo Period as well as Nagasaki’s art works. The photography collection centers on vintage photos and camera equipment, especially by UENO Hikoma, a native of Nagasaki and one of Japan’s pioneering photographers in the 19th century. For the sake of preservation, the vintage photos are not normally exhibited. From Nagasaki Station, take the streetcar and get off at Sakura-machi and walk for 7 min. Phone: (095) 818-8366
  • Nagasaki Prefectural Nagasaki Library (Nagasaki-kenritsu Nagasaki Toshokan)
    長崎県立長崎図書館 – The library preserves many historical photos of Nagasaki taken by UENO Hikoma, one of Japan’s pioneer photographers during the early Meiji Period. Photos may be viewed on request by going to the Kyodo-ka section on the 4th floor. From Nagasaki Station, take a bus and get off at Sakura-machi Koen-mae or Shiyakusho-mae. Or take the streetcar and get off at Sakura-machi or Kokaido-mae. Walk 5 min. Phone: (095) 826-5257


  • Irie Taikichi Memorial Museum of Photography 入江泰吉記念 奈良市写真美術館 Map – Western Japan’s largest museum dedicated to photography opened in April 1992. Designed by KUROKAWA Kisho (who later won the 1991 Japan Art Academy Award), the museum was built upon the donation of IRIE Taikichi’s photographs (80,000 shots) taken during his lifetime. Originally named Nara City Museum of Photography. About 40 photos are displayed at one time. Exhibit themes change four times a year. Exhibits by local Nara photographers are also held. English captions provided. Admission charged. From JR or Kintetsu Nara Station, take the Shinai junkan (No. 1) bus and get off at Wari-ishicho (12 min.). 15-min. walk from this bus stop. Follow the signs. It is west of the Shin Yakujishi Temple. Phone: (0742) 22-9811




  • Shirasagi Memorial Museum of Natural History シラサギ記念自然史博物館 – The museum’s collection includes 150 white heron photographs by the late TANAKA Tokutaro who started a movement to protect the birds in Noda, Urawa city (now called Saitama city) where they were once abundant. About 50 photos taken during the late 1950s and 1960s are always on display from the collection. The museum’s theme is environmental protection. From Omiya Station, take the bus for Naka Noda Hikikaeshiba and get off at Noda Shogakko. The museum in within the grounds of the Urawa Gakuin High School. Phone: (048) 878-0500


  • Shimane Art Museum (Shimane Kenritsu Bijutsukan) 島根県立美術館 – Splendid museum opened in 1999 along the shore of Lake Shinji, famous for sunsets. The museum collects and exhibits oil paintings (centering on water themes), Japanese prints, wooden sculpture, art from Shimane, and Western and Japanese photography. The photo collection centers on vintage prints by overseas artists. It has photos by Japanese photographers like FUKUHARA Shinzo, SHIOTANI Teiko (whose family donated several hundred prints to the museum), SUGIMOTO Hiroshi, NARAHARA Ikko, and MORIYAMA Daido. A 15 minute walk from JR Matsue Station. Or take the Lakeline bus from JR Matsue Station and get off at the Shimane Art Museum stop. Phone: (0852) 55-4700
  • Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum 桑原史成写真美術館 – Opened in 1997, photo gallery dedicated to exhibiting Tsuwano native KUWABARA Shisei’s documentary photographs. Kuwabara is best known for his photos of Minamata mercury-poisoning victims. His photos of Korea, Vietnam, and Russia are also exhibited. The gallery has about 570 of Kuwabara’s photos in its collection and holds four exhibitions a year. The gallery was formerly called Tsuwano Documentary Photograph Gallery (Tsuwano Gendai Photo Gallery) up to March 2004. The museum also houses the local tourist information office. Small admission charged. Right near JR Tsuwano Station (Yamaguchi Line). Phone: (0856) 72-3171 (Blog post here.)


  • Shimooka Renjo Photo Museum (Shimooka Renjo Shashin Kinenkan)
    下岡蓮杖写真記念館 – Museum dedicated to SHIMOOKA Renjo, a Shimoda native and pioneering Japanese photographer during the late 19th century. His various documents and materials, vintage photos, and vintage cameras are displayed. Near Izukyu Shimoda Station. Take the Shimoda Ropeway up to Nesugata Hill.


Nikon Museum

Nikon Museum

Tokyo has Japan’s highest concentration of photography museums, galleries, and exhibitions. Only one museum is dedicated mainly to photography, while a few other art museums have a significant photography department. Photography galleries are mainly private galleries representing photographers and camera makers’ photo galleries such as by Canon and Nikon. Then there are other spaces large and small which exhibit photography on occasion.

  • Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (formerly Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography) – Japan’s largest photography museum  in Yebisu Garden Place near Ebisu Station in Tokyo. Note that due to major renovations, the museum of is closed until fall 2016. It will reopen with a new name in English and new URL. The name in Japanese remains the same.

Fine-art photo galleries selling photography in Tokyo include:

Private and camera makers’ photo galleries in Tokyo include:

  • Canon Gallery Ginza – Photo gallery near Higashi Ginza Station. Exhibits works by photographers who passed the screening for a show. Gallery is part of Canon’s camera showroom and service center.
  • Canon Gallery S – Photo gallery near Shinagawa Station’s Konan exit. Exhibits works by prominent Japanese photographers. Map
  • Nikon Salon – Photo gallery in Ginza and Shinjuku.
  • Nikon Museum – New museum opened in Oct. 2015 on the second floor of Nikon’s head office in Shinagawa, Tokyo. It is to mark the 100th anniversary of Nikon’s foundation in 2017. The swank museum has 580 m² of exhibition space to show all their products, including a showcase of 450 Nikon cameras dating back to 1948. Other exhibits show Nikon’s other products such as steppers, microscopes, and binoculars. Very comprehensive exhibits on Nikon’s history and technologies. There is also a museum shop selling Nikon merchandise like postcards and tote bags.
  • Konica Minolta Plaza – Photo gallery near Shinjuku Station’s East Exit. Although the camera maker has been absorbed by Sony, this gallery still exists.
  • Monochrome Gallery RAIN – Fine-art photo gallery near Ikejiri Ohashi Station (Den’en Toshi Line, one stop from Shibuya). Run by a family headed by a fine-art photographer. They curate exhibitions (not a rental gallery) and represent artists. Open only on weekends.
  • Pentax Forum – Photo gallery near Shinjuku Station’s West Exit.
  • epSITE Epson Imaging Gallery – Gallery near Shinjuku Station’s West Exit.
  • photographers gallery – Photo gallery in Shinjuku.
  • Place M – Photo gallery run by Daido Moriyama and others.
  • Photobook Diner Megutama 写真集 食堂
    Address: 3-2-7-1F Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
    Phone/Fax: 03-6805-1838
    Hours: Weekdays- 11:30~23:00 (last order 22:00)
    Weekends /Holidays- 12:00~22:00(last order 21:00), Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a holiday, we will close on Tuesday).
    Eatery near Ebisu Station with 5,000 photobooks for customers to browse freely. From the collection of Iizawa Kohtaro, a well-known photo critic.
  • JCII Camera Museum (English website) 日本カメラ博物館 Map – Operated by the JCII (Japan Camera and Optical Instruments Inspection and Testing Institute), this museum which opened in 1989 has a collection of over 4,000 cameras made in Japan and overseas. The permanent exhibition shows historical cameras. Special exhibitions are also held. Admission charged. The museum also has an excellent collection of vintage Japanese photographs. Booklets for past special exhibits are available. In the building next door, you can also visit the JCII Photo Salon and library. Near Hanzomon Station (Hanzomon subway line) Exit 4 (Diamond Hotel). After exiting the hotel, go to the right. Then turn right into the first road. Walk a little more and you will see JCII Photo Salon and later the museum on the right in an adjacent building. Phone: (03) 3263-7110

A comprehensive English list of other galleries, museums, and exhibition spaces in Tokyo and Kanagawa (Yokohama, etc.) which may show photography exhibitions is provided by Tokyo Art Beat at the following Web page:


They also have a list of exhibition spaces in the Kanto area outside Tokyo, such as in Saitama, Chiba, Ibaraki, and Tochigi:


This page lists current photo exhibitions in the Tokyo/Kanto area:



  • Shiotani Teiko Photo Memorial Museum 塩谷定好写真記念館 Map – Shiotani’s family converted Teiko’s Japanese-style home into a beautiful museum showing Teiko’s pictorialist prints. The building is a National Registered Tangible Cultural Property in a rural town called Kotora between Tottori and Yonago cities. Closed Tue. About a 20-min. walk from JR Akasaki Station (San’in Main Line). Phone: (0858) 55-0120
  • Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography 植田正治写真美術館 Map – This chic-looking museum opened in Sept. 1995, housing the photographs of the honorable UEDA Shoji (1913-2000). He is most noted for his Tottori Sand Dune pictures where he places people like objects in the sand. He donated his photographs (about 12,000) to Kishimoto-cho, the town where the museum is located. The crescent-shaped museum itself is a work of art, and the architect, Shin Takamatsu, won an award for it. It’s one of Japan’s must-see photo museums. The museum faces Mt. Daisen, Tottori Prefecture’s most prominent mountain, and the museum is designed to give you a clear view of the mountain. The museum consists of four box-shaped buildings. Three of them are gallery spaces which show his photographs. The fourth building is a giant camera obscura with the world’s largest camera lens on the wall facing Mt. Daisen. When the lens is opened, you can see the outside scene (of Mt. Daisen) projected upside down on the opposite wall.To reach the museum via public transportation, you have to get to Yonago Station first. From there, you can take a local train to Kishimoto Station. The museum is a 5-min. taxi ride from Kishimoto Station. Museum is closed during winter from Dec. to Feb.Few train runs from Yonago, so check the train schedule ahead of time. There are also buses from Yonago Station. However, therre aren’t that many buses and it takes over an hour because it goes to other places before reaching the museum. If you are pressed for time, just take a taxi from Yonago Station to the museum. It will cost about 3,000 yen and 15 min. Phone: (0859) 39-8000
  • Yonago City Museum of Art (Yonago-shi Bijutsukan) 米子市美術館 Map – Opened in 1983. The museum’s collection includes paintings, pottery and photographs by local artists. The photo collection has about 650 fine-art prints by Tottori photographer UEDA Shoji, SHIOTANI Teiko, and members of the Yonago Shayukai photo club active in the 1920s and ’30s. Near JR Yonago Station (15-min. walk or 5-min. bus ride, get off at Shiyakusho-mae). Phone: (0859) 34-2424


  • Fukuoka Camera Museum ミュゼふくおかカメラ館 Map – Takaoka, Toyama. A classic camera museum. Holds photo exhibitions on occasion. The beautiful building was designed by Ando Tadao. Small admission charged. Near JR Fukuoka Station on the Hokuriku Line. Phone: (0766) 64-0550


  • The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama (Wakayama Kenritsu Kindai Bijutsukan) 和歌山県立近代美術館 – Opened in 1970, this museum was Japan’s fifth public museum devoted to modern art. It later moved to the current building built in 1994. The museum’s collection centers on print artists. Its photo collection has about 200 prints by Japanese and overseas artists such as SUGIMOTO Hiroshi, MORIMURA Yasumasa, Ei Q, and Cindy Sherman. From JR Wakayama Station, take a bus and get off at Kencho-mae (10-min. ride). Or from Nankai Wakayama-shi Station, take the bus at Bus Stop No. 9 and get off at Kencho-mae (7-min. ride). The museum is across from wakayama Castle and the Wakayama Prefectural Office (Kencho). Phone: (073) 436-8690


  • Ken Domon Museum of Photography 土門拳記念館 Map – In Sakata, a modern museum dedicated to Ken Domon, a legendary Japanese photographer. The museum has 70,000 works by Domon as well as works by past winners of the Domon Ken Photo Award. From Sakata Station (JR Uetsu Main Line), take the Run Run bus for a 16-min. ride. Or from Shonai Airport, take the limousine bus (takes 30 min.). The museum is within Iimoriyama Park. Phone: (0234) 31-0028


Hayashi Tadahiko exhibition room at Shunan City Museum of Art and History.

  • Shunan City Museum of Art and History (Tokuyama-shi Bijutsu Hakubutsukan) 周南市美術博物館 – Opened in 1995 as a museum introducing the history of Tokuyama and art works by Japanese and overseas artists. The photography collection centers on 1,514 works of renown photographer HAYASHI Tadahiko (1918-1990) who was a native of Tokuyama. There is a very impressive HAYASHI Tadahiko Memorial Room (林忠彦記念室) exhibiting his works. He is best known for portraits of famous Japanese writers (especially SAKAGUCHI Ango sitting in a room full of trashed paper) and post-war photos of a war-ruined Tokyo. The exhibition room even has a replica of a bar in Tokyo’s Ginza that was a watering hole for many writers that Hayashi photographed after WWII. (Photos here) 5 min. by taxi from JR Tokuyama Station. Buses also available, get off at Dobutsuen Bunka Kaikan Iriguchi. On Wed., Fri., weekends, and national holidays, there’s a special bus running once an hour. Get off at Bijutsu Hakubutsukan-mae. Phone: (0834) 22-8800


  • Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts 清里フォトアートミュージアム Map – Opened in July 1995 with Hosoe Eikoh as the museum’s director. For its annual “Young Portfolio” project, the museum selects, purchases, and exhibits photos taken by young photographers (under 35) or taken when the photographer was young (in their 20s). Works by many young overseas photographers are also selected for the museum’s collection.
    The museum’s basic philosophy is “having a feeling for life” whether its people or nature. Platinum prints (IZU Kenro, etc.) and works by famous overseas photographers (Robert Frank, William Klein, Edward Weston, etc.) are also in the museum’s large collection. Admission charged. At Kobuchizawa Station on the JR Chuo Main Line, transfer to the JR Koumi Line and get off at Kiyosato Station. 10 min. by car from Kiyosato Station. Phone: (0551) 48-5599
  • Kawaguchi-ko Museum of Art 河口湖美術館 Map – Public art museum opened in 1991 near the shore of Lake Kawaguchi, one of the Fuji Five Lakes at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The museum’s photography collection centers on the works of OKADA Koyo (1895-1972) who photographed Mt. Fuji. The museum also holds an annual Mt Fuji photo contest and 100 works are selected for an exhibition at the museum during Jan. to March. Admission charged. 10-min. bus ride from Kawaguchi-ko Station on the Fuji Kyuko Line. Take the bus at stop 2 or 4. Phone: (0555) 73-2829
  • Shiro Shirahata Photo Gallery 南アルプス山岳写真館・白籏史朗記念館 – Mountain climbers and photographers will enjoy the museum’s display of photos of Japan’s southern alps taken by the late SHIRAHATA Shiro, a noted mountaineer photographer. About 40 of his photos are displayed from a collection of 150. The museum opened in a new and much larger building in 1991. Admission includes entry to the nearby History and Folk Museum (Rekishi Minzoku Shiryokan). From Minobu Station (JR Minobu Line), take a bus (for Narada) and get off at the last stop. Phone: (0556) 48-2552

Nikon Museum opens


The new Nikon Museum has opened on the second floor of Nikon’s head office in Shinagawa, Tokyo. It is to mark the 100th anniversary of Nikon’s foundation in 2017.

The swank museum has 580 m2 of exhibition space to show all their products, including a showcase of 450 Nikon cameras dating back to 1948. Other exhibits show Nikon’s other products such as steppers, microscopes, and binoculars. Very comprehensive exhibits on Nikon’s history and technologies.

There is also a museum shop selling Nikon merchandise like postcards and tote bags.

For more details and a map, see the Nikon Museum web page:


Early Nikon cameras.

Early Nikon cameras.

Nikon's first camera.

Nikon’s first camera.

Nikon Museum's floor layout.

Nikon Museum’s floor layout.

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography closed until autumn 2016

The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Yebisu Garden Place near Ebisu Station in Tokyo is currently closed due to major renovations. It closed on September 24, 2014. It plans to reopen in September 2016. During the closure, works cannot be viewed or loaned out. The museum library also cannot be used.

Museum curators will still be employed and will be busy planning exhibitions, updating databases, doing research/PR, etc.  Website here

J-A Nisei Portraits at Nikon Salon

BRIAN Y. SATO Nisei ExhibitionMy friend Brian Y. Sato, a sansei Japanese-American from Hawai’i, is having his first exhibition in Japan of his Japanese-American Nisei portraits.

Photographing the dying generation of Nisei has been Brian’s pet project since 2002 when I first met him and was very impressed by his project that included portraits of Nisei I personally knew. His portraits are very compelling and sometimes stark representations of this historical and storied generation.

The Nisei are the second-generation Japanese-Americans born to the Issei or first-generation Japanese who immigrated to Hawai’i. This generation are now elderly from their 70s on up. It’s like catch them while you still can. They all have their unique stories. Some have been told and recorded, while many others have died with them. Brian has encountered many nisei who refused to open up and be photographed. But he insisted that he did not want their stories to die with them.

Upon skillful persuasion, Brian has amassed around 200 nisei portraits from all the major Hawaiian islands (including Molokai and Lanai). He has already exhibited them in Hawai’i and the US mainland, but never in Japan until now. I kept urging him to show these portraits in Japan and he is finally doing it.

Portraits from his Nisei of Hawai’i collection will be exhibited at the Nikon Salon in Tokyo and Osaka as follows. He tells me that he’ll be at the gallery most of the time, but you could call and ask to make sure.

Title: GOKURŌSAMA: Second-Generation Japanese-Americans in Hawaii
Place: Shinjuku Nikon Salon (Map)
Shinjuku Station Exit A17, Shinjuku L Tower 28th floor
Phone: 03-3344-0565
Date/Hours: Oct 18 – Oct 31, 2011
10:30 to 18:30 (Oct. 31: 10:30 to 15:00)
Open every day.


Place: Osaka Nikon Salon (Map)
Osaka Station Exit A4, Hilton Plaza West Office Tower 13th floor
Phone: 06-6348-9698
Date/Hours: Nov. 3-16, 2011
10:30 to 18:30 (Oct. 31: 10:30 to 15:00)
Open every day.

Relevant links:



PhotoSpaces FAQ

What is PhotoSpaces (under construction)?

Listings of Japan’s museums, galleries, photo salons, and other exhibition spaces (such as department stores) which hold photography or camera exhibitions regularly or occasionally.

For the Tokyo area, Tokyo Art Beat provides an excellent list of photo exhibition museums, galleries, and other spaces.

What types of photo exhibition spaces are there in Japan?

Basically, we can categorize exhibition spaces as follows:

  • Photo galleries (Free or rental)
  • Art galleries
  • Museums (public and private)

Almost all photo and art galleries have free admission, while museums usually charge admission.

Where’s the exhibition schedule of the photo galleries and museums?

PhotoSpaces does not provide exhibition schedules. In English, you can find exhibition schedules as follows:

In Japanese, you can find exhibition schedules as follows:

  • The gallery or museum’s Web site (if available)
  • Major camera magazines such as Asahi Camera and Nippon Camera.

Exhibitions run for only one to two weeks at most galleries. It is much longer at photography museums.

What should I know before visiting a photo museum or gallery in Japan?

You should make sure that the place will be open. The gallery or museum can be closed on any day of the week. Most are open on weekends and holidays (see list below), but others are not.

For large museums, arrive at least 30 min. before the closing time. Otherwise, entry might not be permitted. Also note that on the final day of an exhibition period, the gallery may close earlier than usual.

What days are national holidays in Japan?

New Year’s Day (Jan. 1)
2nd Mon. in Jan. (Coming-of-Age Day)
Feb. 11 (National Founding Day)
Mar. 21 (Vernal Equinox)
Apr. 29 (Greenery Day)
May 3 (Constitution Day)
May 4 (Children’s Day)
(The week-long period spanning Apr. 29 to May 4 is called “Golden Week.”)
July 20 (Marine Day)
Mid-August (Obon summer vacation)
Sep. 15 (Respect-for-the-Aged Day)
Sep. 23 (Autumnal Equinox)
2nd Mon. in Oct. (Sports Day)
Nov. 3 (Culture Day)
Nov. 23 (Labor Thanksgiving Day)
Dec. 23 (Emperor’s Birthday)
Year end and New Year’s period refers to the last few days of the year (around Dec. 28-31) and the first few days of the year (around Jan. 1-4). Many museums are closed during this period.

Note that if a national holiday falls on a Sunday, Monday becomes the holiday.

How long do photo exhibitions run?

At most galleries, one to two weeks is the average exhibition period. It is much longer at photography museums.

What about maps to the photo museums/galleries?

For Tokyo-area venues, see Tokyo Art Beat. Also see etc. magazine for art museum/gallery maps in English (might be slightly outdated).

Lastly, check the museum or gallery’s Web site to see if they have a map in English (they would have a map in Japanese). PhotoSpaces may provide Web site URLs for museums and galleries.

How do I hold a photo exhibition in Japan?

Basically, there are several ways to exhibit in Japan:

  • Use a rental gallery where you pay money to rent the space for a certain period.
  • Apply for an exhibition at one of the free photo galleries operated by the major camera and film makers.
  • Enter and win a major photo contest whose winners are given an exhibition.
  • Become famous enough to be invited by a museum or gallery to hold an exhibition
  • Become friends with a gallery owner who is willing to give you an exhibition.
  • Participate in local art festivals or exhibitions.
  • Negotiate with department stores, coffee shops, and other local public establishments which may allow you to show your photographs.

If you are rich enough to rent a gallery, it’s quite easy. Just contact the gallery and reserve a time slot. Be prepared to pay around 20,000 yen per day to rent the gallery. The minimum rental period is usually 7-10 days. Some rental galleries require certain standards in the quality of the work to be exhibited. If your work does not meet their standards, you might be rejected. Exhibition-quality prints may also be required. The gallery may also take a large commission (as much as 50%) on any print sales. You will also have to pay for frames/matting and publicity postcards. The total bill will be considerable.

A cheaper (but more difficult) way is to apply for an exhibition at one of the galleries operated by a film or camera maker such as Fuji Film, Canon, Nikon, and Kodak. Find out the deadline (usually every month or once every few months) and entry rules, then submit the required number of sample photos. If you pass the judging, you will be notified of an exhibition slot which is usually about a week long and a year in advance. You are competing against many other people, so the chances of getting in are pretty slim. Places like the Nikon Salon have applications in English. Most other galleries require you to communicate in Japanese only.

If you’re a famous photographer, you may be invited to exhibit in Japan by a major gallery or museum. That’s when you got it made.

Having a gallery connection is also a secure way. If you know a gallery owner or know a friend who knows a gallery owner, you may be given an exhibition if the owner likes you and your work.

Some small cities like Kamogawa in Chiba are very art-oriented and welcome participation from the public or foreigners during city-sponsored art events. If you get involved in your local community, there may be local venues to show your work. Sometimes there are exhibitions where anybody can submit a photo. For example, the Month of Photography event in Tokyo has the 1,000-Person Photo Exhibition every year for this purpose.

Japan also holds many, many photo contests. There’s even a magazine called “Photo Contest” which lists all the photo contests that are held. Some of them are major competitions from which major photographers made their debut. Besides an exhibition, the winners get a lot of media attention.

*Also see an excellent article by Tokyo art critic Monty DiPietro on trying to hold an exhibition in Tokyo. He even writes, “Forget it” was the response I got from most of the Tokyo-based artists, and gallery and museum people I queried on how a North American might arrange a Tokyo exhibition.”

And oh, if you do not live in Japan and want to exhibit in Japan, you should find someone in Japan to help you or represent you. The person will have to do all the translating and paperwork submissions for you. It might be difficult to do everything from overseas.

How do I make a phone call in Japan?

All phone numbers shown in PhotoSapces are for calling within Japan. To call from outside Japan, dial Japan’s country code (81), then the local area code without dialing the first zero. For example, to call or fax (03) 3280-0033 (Tokyo), dial 81-3-3280-0033.

In DirectoryZONE, the phone number’s local area code is indicated in parentheses. It need not be dialed if you are in that area. For example, if you are within the 23 wards of Tokyo, you need not dial the 03. Also, toll-free numbers (usually starts with 0120) work only within Japan. Note that most people in Japan cannot speak English, so be prepared to communicate in Japanese.

Photo galleries in Kansai, Osaka, Kyoto

A comprehensive English list of galleries, museums, and other exhibition spaces in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Shiga, Mie, Wakayama, Hyogo) which may show photography exhibitions is provided by Kansai Art Beat at the following Web page:


Venues by area in Kansai:

After a dormant period of a few years from mid-2008, Kansai Art Beat is again actively maintained as of May 2014. Photo exhibition listings are also provided: http://www.kansaiartbeat.com/events/Photography

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