10 Cafes and Bars inside the Tokyo Art Scene

A list of Tokyo spaces that combine art, food and drink.

poster for Tokyo Story 2013 Part 3 “Identities In The World”

Tokyo Story 2013 Part 3 “Identities In The World”

at Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya
in the Shibuya area
This event has ended - (2013-07-13 - 2013-09-23)

poster for Zin Akaki Exhibition

Zin Akaki Exhibition

at Traumaris 'Space'
in the Ebisu, Daikanyama area
This event has ended - (2013-06-19 - 2013-07-28)

poster for Special 140th Birthday Exhibtion - Kawai Gyokudo - Depiciting Japan, Heart and Hearth

Special 140th Birthday Exhibtion - Kawai Gyokudo - Depiciting Japan, Heart and Hearth

at Yamatane Museum of Art
in the Ebisu, Daikanyama area
This event has ended - (2013-06-08 - 2013-08-04)

poster for Ukiyo-e: Floating World from the Saito Collection

Ukiyo-e: Floating World from the Saito Collection

at Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo
in the Ginza, Marunouchi area
This event has ended - (2013-06-22 - 2013-09-08)

poster for Eiichiro Sakata “Enoshima”

Eiichiro Sakata “Enoshima”

at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo)
in the Tokyo: Others area
This event has ended - (2013-07-13 - 2013-09-29)

In Features by Emily Wakeling 2013-07-12

Tokyo has a small collection of places that are somewhere in between museum and bar, gallery and cafe. This is not a food blog by far, but if you choose your eateries and watering holes by their quality or quantity of art then this is the round-up for you.

Yoshitomo Nara collaborated with the design collective graf to create A to Z Cafe, a cafe found inside an old warehouse in the fashionable neighborhood of Minami-aoyama featuring many of Nara’s popular works. Walk or take a train to near-by Shibuya in order to check out Tokyo Wonder Site’s main venue and its attached cafe. The recently re-opened 24/7 Coffee and Roaster is a place to grab some coffee and also view some works by Tokyo’s young and emerging artists. Starting tomorrow, the TWS art space will be showing a group exhibition called, “Tokyo Story 2013, Part 3: ‘Identities in the World'”. TWS is closed on Mondays but the cafe is open every day. Please note that at the time of this writer’s visit, the cafe walls were as yet still bare, but there is promise of exhibitions in the near future.

Not only is Gallery ef a great opportunity to check out a 145-year-old building that survived both the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and the bombing raids of World War II, this building also houses a pleasant cafe that turns into a bar at night. Gallery ef and its cafe have a real comfy, accessible atmosphere, featuring a diverse collection of artists. For example, last month the cafe featured artworks from a group of Alzheimer’s sufferers who use art as therapy. In a similarly casual style, Harajuku’s Design Festa building holds a brightly-painted cafe, with a variety of artworks on the walls which then lead into the gallery spaces too.

In the alleys of Golden Gai, there’s a bar famously owned by the high-profile artist Makoto Aida. Geijitsu Kouminkan is one of the 200 or so bars that fill the neighborhood’s historical buildings. Inside, you will find many of the artist’s proteges and other art figures of the Tokyo art scene, as well as a few Aida artworks. Prominent Tokyo art collector, Seiichi Yoshino, runs a space near Sangenjaya called Capsule. Yoshino’s high-quality collection also hangs on the walls of his proximate cafe, Sunday. At the time of visiting, there were a series of photographs of Daido Moriyama plus a new media work by Tatsuo Miyajima. Art writer and previous guest of TABlog, Chie Sumiyoshi runs a cafe/bar on the top level of the Ebisu art complex, NADiff a/p/a/r/t. Traumaris is a small but lively space that, as well as displaying regular contemporary art exhibitions, frequently hosts art-related events and parties. The current exhibition by Zin Akaki will run until July 21st.

To finish off, here is a list of some of the best art-themed cafes found inside Tokyo’s art museums. First of all, the Yamatane Museum of Art, home to some of the most gorgeous exhibitions of traditional Japanese arts, has the Tsubaki Cafe. The cafe, named after the camellia flower, offers a house-specialty of tsubaki cake and tea. The current exhibition is “Special 140th Birthday Exhibition- Kawai Gyokudo: Depicting Japan, Heart and Hearth” and it runs until August 4th. Perhaps more for the architectural interest than any art link, Cafe 1894 at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum offers a Meiji-era atmosphere inside this recently restored building. The current exhibition, “Ukiyo-e: Floating World from the Saito Collection”, will close on September 9th. In fine weather, Cafe d’art at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art offers outdoor dining in the museum’s private garden. Starting tomorrow is Eiichiro Sakata’s exhibition, “Enoshima”, a series of photographs of youth and leisure from the popular beach. On Sundays is a design store, bookstore and cafe all combined. It is located in the basement levels of the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art. From today, the cafe will hold “Chernobyl/Materials”, a series of photographs by Kenshu Shintsubo on the topic of the infamous nuclear meltdown site. Use the MuPon app for a discount on admission at all four of the above-mentioned art museums.

Emily Wakeling

Emily Wakeling. Emily Wakeling is a writer and curator who used to be based in Tokyo. Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, Emily wrote a Masters thesis on images of girls in contemporary Japanese art. She also curated some local sound art events. Her research interests cover Asian and Australian contemporary art, young women artists, globalisation and art, and new media. » See other writings


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