Explore - 9 contemporary art galleries in Bakurocho
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Bakurocho - Asakusabashi

The Bakurocho neighborhood southeast of Akihabara is an essential stop on any contemporary-art tour of Tokyo. While Roppongi has a number of major international galleries, Bakurocho is more geared towards small independent galleries, which have gathered here to take advantage of the cheaper rents and the accessible location.

As befits an up-and-coming creative neighborhood, Bakurocho is also home to art-supply shops, crafts galleries, coworking spaces, hip cafes, serious coffeehouses and craft-beer bars.

Here is our guide to some of the area highlights, including the Asakusabashi neighborhood just to the north.
Touring the galleries

Bakurocho's galleries are close enough together that you can hop from one to another efficiently, without worrying too much about whether any particular gallery might be closed between shows, although you can always check individual gallery websites for show dates if you wish.

All galleries are closed on Mondays and most are closed on Sundays and holidays, so Saturday afternoons are the best time to catch the artists in person, while Wednesday through Friday afternoons are best if you want the galleries to yourself. Most galleries stay open until 6 or 7pm.

Admission to the galleries is free of charge; just politely greet the staff when you enter. Most are very small, so you can stop in for five or ten minutes and then move on to the next place.
How to get there

The main stations serving the area are Higashi-Nihonbashi station on the Asakusa line, Bakuro-yokoyama station on the Toei-Shinjuku line, and Bakurocho station on the JR Sobu rapid line (connecting Tokyo station with Chiba). These three stations are all connected underground.

Alternatively if you want to start in Asakusabashi and tour the galleries in reverse order, Asakusabashi station serves the Asakusa line and the JR Sobu-Chuo line (running between Akihabara and Ryogoku).
Recommended galleries
1. Established international artists at Taro Nasu
Open since 1988, this is the longest-running of the local galleries and probably the largest in area. You can see the work of established Japanese and international artists at the gallery's six to eight yearly shows.

taronasu

taronasu
2. Tokyo's tiniest gallery - Taimatz
With 13 square meters of display space, enough for just three or four works, this super-miniature gallery was designed by the Wonderwall architectural firm. There's no door, but stand in front of the window and it will open automatically. It's located just in front of Taro Nasu.

taimatz

taimatz
3. New talents and guest curators at Alpha M
Run by Musashino Art University, this non-profit gallery is a place for guest curators to introduce new artists. It's conveniently located in the same building as Taro Nasu and Taimatz.

alpham

alpham
4. Contemporary photography and Picasso ceramics at Kanzan Gallery
Another gallery with guest curators, Kanzan puts on shows of mostly contemporary photography. In the back gallery you'll find seasonally rotating exhibitions of Picasso's ceramic artwork.

kanzan

kanzan
5. American and Japanese contemporary artists at Koki Arts
One of the goals of this gallery is to introduce contemporary American artists to Japan and vice versa, and they take part in various international art fairs in addition to the regular gallery shows.

koki

koki
6. "Fusing the Meiji Era with modern times" at Lower Akihabara
That's the gallery's stated philosophy, and we've seen some strikingly unusual art at exhibitions here. It's also an unusual physical setup, a converted factory space with a long, narrow entrance hall and a 180-meter-high basement area.

lower

lower
7. Up-and-coming Japanese artists at San-Ai Gallery
Occupying one floor of the newly renovated, art-focused Bakurocactus building, this tiny gallery has one-week shows introducing promising but not yet established local artists.

sanai

sanai
8. Still more promising young artists at Taku Sometani Gallery
Another small gallery in the Bakurocactus building, Taku Sometani is similarly devoted to promoting up-and-coming artists. You'll often find some of the more affordable contemporary art in the area here and at San-Ai downstairs.

sometani

sometani
9. International artists and group shows at Makii Masaru Fine Arts
Along with Taro Nasu this is one of the most spacious of the local galleries, and they often hold separate shows on the two gallery levels. They host both solo and group shows of Japanese and international artists.

Since they're located a bit north of the main Bakurocho gallery area you might want to check their website schedule to make sure they're not between shows.

makii

makii
kanzan

kanzan
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Coffee and lunch break spots
10. Coffee in a paint shop at Coffee Stand in the Painting
Located inside the multistory Colorworks Palette art supply store, this small stand serves single-bean and blend drip coffee, hot or iced. You can browse through paint catalogs at one of the small tables while you sip your coffee.
berth
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berth
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11. Indoor and outdoor seating at Berth Coffee
You can enjoy your espresso or drip coffee out on the terrace or inside the lobby of the Citan hostel, or get it to go. There are croissants and other pastries as well as sandwiches if you're hungry. (8am-7pm)
berth
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berth
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12. Afternoon pastries and Yamagata-style lunch plates at Fukumori
Regional cuisine from Yamagata is the specialty at this stylish cafe-restaurant, and in the afternoons they serve coffee and various desserts. There's an interesting crafts-shop area in the back, and they hold live musical performances and other events some evenings.
fukumori
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fukumori
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13. Cheeseburgers in a library setting at Bakuro Common
Bookshelves full of design and architecture magazines line the walls of this attractive two-story cafe-restaurant. They serve burgers, pastas and Thai noodles at lunchtime, Mediterranean cuisine in the evenings, and coffee and desserts from 3-5pm.
common
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common
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14. Curry udon all day long at Senkichi
Thick udon noodles are served in tasty curry-flavored soups, including Vietnamese-inspired coconut curries and tangy cheese-infused curries, at this popular budget noodle shop.

They're open through the afternoon, and the casual dining area is comfortable for solo diners.
senkichi
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senkichi
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Asakusabashi sights
15. Vintage office equipment at the Japan Stationery Museum
One of Tokyo's many hyper-specialized mini-museums, the compact Stationery Museum doesn't have much in the way of paper products, but they showcase impressive collections of Chinese ink stones, vintage adding machines and calculators, abacuses, fountain pens, letter openers and calligraphy brushes.
stationery
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stationery
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stationery
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16. Friendly robots at the Henn na Hotel
Even if you're not a guest here, you can stop by the second-floor reception desk of the "Strange Hotel" to chat with the robot staff members, admire the robot fish swimming robotically around their huge tank, and take selfies.
henna
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henna
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17. Pottery and outdoor coffee at Lucite Gallery
Once the home of a famous geisha, this traditionally constructed residential building is now home to a pottery gallery, an indoor-outdoor cafe area and a bar.

The gallery isn't open every day, and both the cafe and bar schedules are irregular, but it's worth dropping by if you're nearby to see if anything is going on.
lucite
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lucite

lucite
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18. Pictureque party boats at the Yakatabune docks
If you've been to the Odaiba waterfront in the evening you may have noticed the dozens of lantern-lit yakatabune party boats gathered out in Tokyo Bay. This is where they live.

If you happen to be in the area in the early evening you can see the festively lit boats as they head out to the Sumida River for their nightly round of dinner and drinking parties.
boats
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Bars and restaurants
19. Locally made craft beers at Nihonbashi Brewery (Bakurocho)
Run by a veteran of Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, Oregon, this lively brewpub has 13 taps dispensing HUB beers and original house brews, guest beers and ciders. The very appetizing food menu features inventive dishes like miso-lotus root pizza, crisp chicken wings with fine-herb dip, and grilled pork with shiitake mushroom relish.
nihonbashi brewery
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nihonbashi brewery
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20. Craft beers in a Star Wars-themed bar at Beer Wars (Bakurocho)
Located just around the corner from Nihonbashi Brewery, Beer Wars is a good backup spot if that bar is full, or a nice second stop on a bar crawl of the neighborhood. They offer a solid selection of US craft beers and creative dishes to accompany them.
beerwars
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21. Grilled pork and fresh air at Buta Ichiro (Asakusabashi)
First-rate charcoal-grilled pork on skewers is the specialty at this very casual indoor-outdoor standing bar next to the JR train tracks. Prices are very budget-friendly, and they serve a few decent sake varieties to go with your food. They even have a few folding chairs if you're tired of standing.
ichiro
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ichiro
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22. Meat sushi and sake at Nikuzushi (Asakusabashi)
You can enjoy sushi topped with tasty morsels of (mostly cooked) wagyu beef, Iberico pork, horsemeat and other meaty delicacies here, along with a nice selection of craft sake. The foie gras nigiri assortment is particularly recommended, as is the house special, a platter of thinly sliced beef short ribs seared with a blow torch at your table.
nikuzushi
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nikuzushi
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