The 11 Galleries That Art Lovers Must Visit in Kyoto
Want a chance to explore a different side of Kyoto? Check out the local art scene to discover something beyond the local scenery and history.
It was sometime in the 1990s when Kyoto’s art community started gaining ground in Tokyo. Now, the city has one of the country’s best contemporary art scenes.
Everyone knows Kyoto for its temples, shrines, and fantastic gardens. But art lovers from all over the world visit the former capital of Japan for the artworks.
Want to do the same? Check out these 11 galleries where you can see the best of Japanese art.
#1. Imura Art Gallery
Founded in 1990, the Imura Art Gallery is one of the best art galleries in Kyoto that initially focused on emerging artists.
In a way, the trend remains to this day. The Imura Art Gallery still does a great job of displaying collections from local artists in its various events.
Most of the paintings feature Japanese styles. However, many collections present creative combinations of Eastern and Eastern painting styles.
#2. The National Museum of Modern Art
You can’t miss a tour of the museum during your time in Kyoto.
The permanent collection features a nice blend of Western and Eastern paintings, but the museum’s biggest collection is that of nihonga, Japanese-style paintings. You can also admire the many photography, sculpture, and prints available. And throughout the year, it holds several big exhibits that add even more artwork to the displays.
Plan your tour any day of the week except for Monday, as the museum isn’t open on the first day of the week.
#3. Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art
The Municipal Museum of Art houses one of the largest painting collections in the region. It’s also among the oldest museums, founded back in 1993.
This is the home of many rotating exhibits throughout the year. The permanent collection is nothing short of impressive, either. It has over 2,000 items, many of which are prints, paintings, and sculptures.
#4. Kodama Gallery
This gallery first opened its doors in 1998. Initially, it was established in Osaka but has since relocated to Kyoto. It has a much larger space now to host a larger collection. The two exhibition rooms cover an area of 800 square meters (over 8,500 square feet).
Like many other of the top art galleries in Kyoto, the Kodama Gallery promotes young talent. You can also find many modern artworks, as well as post-minimalism paintings and sculptures.
#5. Maeda Hiromi Art Gallery
This is one of the newer galleries in the city. The gallery’s owner, Maeda Hiromi, opened the venue in 2011 with a clear objective – to promote young Japanese artists and give them a platform to engage a wider audience.
The gallery sits in an idyllic location as well, right in the Minami-ku ward. The location also houses the popular To-ji Buddhist temple. That’s why it’s a great spot popular with both tourists and locals.
Two of the most notable artists that have their works on permanent display are Shinya Sakurai and Iwasaki Eri.
#6. The Kyoto Art Centre
Opened in April 2000 in the former Meirin Elementary School, the gallery hosts some of the best art exhibitions in the country. Yusuke Kamata, one of the famed installation artists, has many of his works on display at the center.
It’s also more geared towards visitors of different tastes and expectations. Music, dance, and cultural performances are very common during art exhibits.
#7. En Arts
A trip to the En Arts gallery is worth a few hours of your day. It’s one of the top art galleries in Kyoto and sits in a beautiful location.
Right inside the heart of Maruyama Park, the En Arts gallery puts on a fantastic visual display of contemporary arts.
The gallery promotes both native and international artists. And many of the collections feature object art. It’s a nice alternative to other painting-packed venues in the city.
#8. Kaho Gallery
For more interesting things to do in Kyoto, or see, visit the Kaho Gallery. It’s one of the local gems located near the Higashiyama ward.
The venue opened in 1996, like many others that opened during Kyoto’s artistic boom. Here you can see collections of abstract figurative paintings and European-influenced artworks.
#9. Kyoto International Manga Museum
Manga enthusiasts and art lovers should have a blast at this gallery. It hosts some of the top contemporary art displays after all. Works from Daijiro Morohoshi seem to be highly popular.
Opened in 2006, the museum has already collected over 300,000 items, including many historical manga artworks you won’t see anywhere else in the world. But there are also plenty of foreign manga on display.
#10. Gallery Morning Kyoto
You can find some of the best contemporary art exhibits at the Gallery Morning Kyoto. It’s at the heart of the Kyoto cultural center in Okazaki.
This is one of the smaller art galleries in the city. And its intimate setting gives it a particular appeal. Although the venue is small, the collection is nothing short of impressive.
You can even buy unique works of art from what’s considered the country’s most avant-garde artists.
#11. Gallery of Kyoto Traditional Arts & Crafts
If you want a healthy dose of traditional artwork, this is the place to visit. It’s a museum that offers a complete experience because you can see how artists create their crafts before they reach display status.
The cheap entry fee also makes it a popular venue.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t have such a large collection of items compared to other galleries on this list. Still, it offers a unique experience for art lovers.
Kyoto Is the New Must-See Art Hub
The top art galleries in Kyoto are among the best in the entire country. And since some of them sit in picturesque locations, the scenery enhances their reputations even more.
Kyoto also has a long-standing tradition of promoting emerging native artists. Yet over the years, the city has accumulated an incredibly vast collection of artwork from all over the world. And the many rotating exhibits and displays also make Kyoto a great art hub for returning visitors.
There are also hundreds of items you can buy, too – from calligraphy to paintings to sculptures. So don’t miss out on any of these fantastic venues.