Home to the personal collection of treasures amassed by railway magnate and politician Kaichiro Nezu, his eponymous museum comprises over 7,400 objects including calligraphy, painting, sculpture, ceramics, lacquerware, metalwork, bamboo craft and textiles. Nezu Museum, the site of his former residence and recently rebuilt, is also home to a world-famous collection of ancient Chinese bronzes.
Located in the upmarket district of Minato, the museum opened after Nezu’s death in 1941. The renovations and new two-floor museum building offer a welcome respite from the outside street’s commerce by embracing the Japanese sense of harmony with a nod to the traditional executed in a modern way with a traditional-style tiled roofs, slatted wood exterior and extensive use of glass throughout the edifice. The beautiful gardens surrounding the museum feature ponds, undulating paths, waterfalls and hidden teahouses.
A noted tea aficionado, Nezu avidly collected hanging scrolls and utensils for tea ceremony gatherings and the museum is considered to be a showcase for traditional Japanese arts and culture relating to tea and its customs. There is also a new tearoom or chashitsu for use in tea ceremonies. Among the various ancient tea paraphernalia, highlights in the museum collection include Ogate-gire, a calligraphy fragment of Narihira-shu poetry on a hanging scroll from the 12th century; an 18th-century painting on a pair of six-fold screens entitled Irises by Ogata Korin; and a stone Buddhist plinth from the Tang dynasty (7th century). There’s also a kosode kimono from the 17th century with a checkerboard design on silk complete with Japanese chess game pieces.
Don’t forget to spend some time outside to enjoy the tranquility of the vast Japanese-style gardens with lush greenery, hanging trees, serene streams and natural beauty and its harmonious juxtaposition with the new building. Admission to Nezu Museum is ¥1,000. To visit, take the A5 exit from Omotesando and walk nine minutes and 700m up Miyuki Street to the museum.