Map: Art Triangle

None of the locations on this walk existed prior to 2003, but already they have become some of Tokyo’s premier destinations. As you browse the large shopping/dining/entertainment complexes here you’re sure to get a little turned around, but that’s part of the fun.

Start your tour at Tokyo Midtown, which calls itself “a new kind of composite city.” It opened in 2007 around Midtown Tower, the city’s (not the metropolitan area’s) tallest building at 814 feet (248 meters) and home of the spectacular (1) Ritz-Carlton Hotel (Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-1, Akasaka, Minato-ku); take the elevator to the lobby on the 45th floor for views across the Imperial Palace and out to Tokyo Bay. Descend to the (2) Suntory Museum of Art (Tokyo Midtown Gardenside, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku) on the third floor, where temporary exhibits showcase both traditional and contemporary Japanese art and design.

Head back to the first floor and follow the signs to the garden and (3) 21_21 Design Sight (9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku). Designed by architect Tadao Ando, it looks like two stylized clamshells chatting on a meadow. Changing, fanciful exhibits are curated by fashion designers including Issey Miyake.

From here, head back past the footbridge and cross the busy street Gaien-Higashi Dori. Bear to the right of the median (Idemitsu gas station on your right). Where the road curves left, the (4) National Art Center Tokyo (7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku) is on the right. Its undulating glass surface, by architect Kishio Kurokawa, elegantly conceals giant, inverted cones topped with cafés. Exhibits range from prize-winning art competitions to European masters.

Return to the street, head downhill and follow the road as it curves right. Turn left before the covered overpass, and as you head up the stairs you’ll see the 54-story Mori Tower. This is the heart of the (5) Roppongi Hills complex. There’s no shortage of places for lunch or a snack here—just wander California architect Jon Jerde’s multilayered buildings. A great vantage point is from the Mohri Garden, a former samurai garden on-site. When you’re done, head up to the (6) Mori Art Museum (Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku), 53 stories up, where it’s always a surprise as to how the cutting-edge exhibits will be displayed. Even between exhibits, it’s worth a visit to the (7) Tokyo City View Observatory (Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku), for the city’s grandest vistas. On clear days, you can see Mt. Fuji.


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