Asakura Museum of Sculpture
Nippori: Art museum
Asakura Museum of Sculpture: Nippori
Nippori / Art museum
Open 9:30am-4:30pm (last entry 4pm). Closed Mondays, Thursdays.
Y500 admission
Average visit time: 15-30 minutes

The former home and studio of sculptor Fumio Asakura (1883-1964) now houses a surprisingly large museum dedicated to his work. The sprawling building was designed by Asakura himself, and consists of a European-style studio wing, where he ran an art school, and a three-story wooden Japanese-style residential wing where he lived.

The tour of the residence is just as interesting as the sculptural exhibits, and English-speaking docents are on hand to guide visitors around the ground-floor rooms and point out interesting architectural details. At the center of the residential wing is a beautifully landscaped central courtyard, which has been recognized as a National Site of Scenic Beauty, along with the fairly large rooftop garden.

Asakura apparently loved cats, so there are numerous life-size cat bronzes, and when we visited there was also a show of winners of a cat-sculpture contest sponsored by the museum. Important public figures of the day are also well represented among his works, as are amateur athletes. Most of the large-size sculptures are displayed in the massive studio space, while smaller works are scattered around the library and rooms in the residential wing.

The museum has an unusually comprehensive set of rules. There's no photography within the museum, no use of electronic devices, and if you want to take notes you must use a pencil rather than a pen. Pencils are provided if you need one. There's no sketching allowed. There is, however, an English-language audio guide to explain sections of the museum not covered by the docents.

Note that you'll need to take off and put on your shoes multiple times over the course of a visit, so wear some nice socks.

Taito-ku, Yanaka 7-18-10.
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