Art & architecture

Explore outstanding modern galleries, museums of exquisite traditional art, and a litany of historical buildings.

Japan has a rich and world-renowned artistic tradition which encompasses sculpture, textiles, ink painting, calligraphy, ukiyo-e woodblock printing and much more. Exquisite kimono, beautifully painted screens and images by famous artists such as Hokusai have become iconic symbols of the country, and there are a multitude of excellent museums where you can admire these creations - from the world's largest collection of ukiyo-e in Matsumoto to the superb Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya.

Contemporary art, meanwhile, enjoys an excellent standing in Japan and there are world-class galleries scattered throughout the country. Visit the Mori Art Museum at the top of a skyscraper in Tokyo; admire 1,300 works of art from the post-restoration era in Matsue; enjoy masterpieces by Moore and Rodin in a stunning natural setting at Hakone's Open-Air Museum; and visit Naoshima - a tiny island on the Seto Inland Sea that has become famous for its innovative approach to art.

Japanese architecture, meanwhile, is typified by wooden structures with sliding paper screens, tatami mats and curved roofs. Though at first glance Japanese and Chinese architecture may seem similar, the Japanese aesthetic is much simpler, cleaner and less ornate, as you will come to find as you explore the many temples, shrines, samurai residences, castles and traditional districts over the course of your trip.