Roppongi, 六本木, is an upper class district in Tokyo which is, also, home to numerous embassies. The reputation as a high class area preceded itself even before I had done any research, as all I heard about were all the LVs, the Pradas, the Ritz, the Clubs. It was evident when I came out of the Roppongi station, and arrived at Tokyo Midtown, as you can see from all the spare-no-expenses finishing including the overhead bridge connecting the Kuritsu Hinokicho Park from The Ritz-Carlton.
Why did I visit Roppongi if I am not there for the LVs, the Pradas, the Ritz and the Clubs? Well, there were a quite a few art galleries and architectures that I really wanted to check out. In 2012, I spent a day in three Roppongi art museums; 21_12 Design Sight, the National Art Center and Mori Art Museum.
21_21 Design Sight was born out of the mind of Issey Miyake and conversations with his contemporary Japanese designers. One of those designers was the eventual architect of the museum, Tadao Ando. Miyake collaborates with Taku Satoh and Naoto Fukasawa to curates unique exhibition lineups. Walking through the exhibition, at that time, detailing the collaboration between legendary photographer Irving Penn and Issey Miyaki, in a building that was designed by Ando, was priceless.
Just across the road from Tokyo Midtown is The National Art Center. Similar to 21_21 Design Sight, it does not have a permanent gallery. The architecture is something to behold. Designed by Kisho Kurokawa, the one and the same who designed Nakagin Capsule Tower, the huge interior of the museum, as seen above, left me in awe at the sight of it.
Mori Art Museum is just a short walk away from the National Art Center. Situated on the 53rd floor of the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hill, this is yet another museum without a permanent collection. I managed to catch the exhibition for Singapore based artist, Ho Tze Nyen, and Korean artist, Lee Bul, when I was there in 2012.
Just a floor below the museum, you can catch a breathtaking view of Tokyo, including the famous Tokyo Tower, from the sky deck and city view gallery.
As you may have figured out, all of these museums have a strict no photography policy. Even though I sneaked a few shots, none of them were clear enough to show. But, I did left the museums with fond memories of the phenomenal artworks. Among the three, 21_21 Design Sight left the deepest impression.
After a day of immersing myself in art and architecture, I walked around Roppongi Hill and managed to catch the city and Tokyo Tower in its full megawatt rainbow light extravagant.
I decided to end the tiring day with a walk, instead of the train ride, to Shibuya where there is a direct train back to my hotel in Shinjuku. Even though I got to see more of Tokyo by walking, I have to remember that the distance looks much shorter in Google Maps than it actually feels in real life.