NACT: Sunday Impressions

I had a really awesome Sunday in Tokyo today. I ventured out to to my first proper art gallery experience in a really long time and have discovered my new favourite place in Tokyo. And that would be the National Art Centre, Tokyo (NACT) in Midtown (Roppongi). My manager at work had told me about it as a really good place to go to eat (he is also a huge foodie. We often exchange dining recommendations). In addition to there being a huge art gallery space, there is also a nice French restaurant. I went there with a friend today who is a huge fan of the place and goes there every year. The building itself was impressive. I loved the architecture and building design. I took my SLR camera and took a ridiculous number of photographs. Here are lots of photos that I took from the outside of the building. It’s made all of glass and is curved and wavy.

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Super cool, right. So in love with this building. And I hadn’t even walked in yet. Right in the entrance, I looked up and took this shot.

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So the whole point of my trip to the National Art Centre was to check out an exhibition that was on: The Washington National Gallery (Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC). Exhibition Entry: 1500yen.

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There were A LOT of people inside the gallery. I walked through the four exhibition areas and checked out the art…just looking. I don’t know much anything about art. Just that I know what I like when I see it. I’m more a modern contemporary art fan (my favourite art museum would be the Pompidou in Paris). It was an impressive collection of works from the likes of Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh and a handful of other artists. I was really taken with the two pieces by Georges Seurat, in particular “Seascape at Port-en-Bessin, Normandy”. His brush technique is super cool. His brushstrokes are super fine, almost like a dot mosaic. It was pretty mesmerizing. Once I had seen the exhibition, I then just walked around the gallery and took photos of the building interior. It was so fascinating. I probably spent more time taking photos than time actually spent looking at the exhibition. The building is just so darn cool and modern. It’s glass and open spaces, and there is a huge inverted cone, atop of which is the third floor restaurant. I highly recommend visiting the National Art Centre, even if you’re not going to see an exhibition. All the open spaces, the gift shops, and eateries are free. Only an entry fee is required to see an actual running exhibition. Here are a score or two of photos I took just wandering around inside the Centre experimenting with light and angles on my camera. As you can see, lots of people were also spending their Sunday here.

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Up on the higher levels, I got some more cool photos.

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Arial view

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The restaurants here are also super cool, atop of the two inverted cones. There’s a tea cafe on the second floor. I love how they are built up high in a round shape.

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How cool is this:

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We had lunch on the third floor French Brasserie: Paul Bocuse le musee. Paul Bocuse is a famous chef considered the Godfather of french cuisine. He has a bunch of restaurants around Japan. The one at the NACT is pretty cool and I was so excited to eat there. The restaurant is atop of the main inverted cone, and again, is built in a round shape.

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Clearly, I couldn’t get enough photos of this place! Truly fascinating.

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I’ll have more photos (including the food ones in a separate forthcoming blog entry). After a long leisurely late lunch, we ventured down onto the basement level where there is the really cool souvenir gift store which sells all things arty, creative and cool. Great spot for interesting, unique gifts. It was almost a museum in itself. So many creative and funny products and a great variety of stuff. The store was a lot of fun. In addition to the tea salon cafe, and the french brasserie, there’s a cafeteria on the basement level, and a casual refreshments cafe on the ground floor. There’s also an art library as well. We also got a bit of peak into the calligraphy exhibition as well. There are three gallery levels with changing exhibits. The National Art Centre is also one of the trio of museums in the Roppongi Art Triangle – the Mori Art musuem, the Suntory Art Musuem and the NACT. Ticket stubs to one will also get you a small discount into the others. By the time I left the Art Centre after having spent about 6 hours there (looking, dining, browsing, taking photos) which was about 6pm, it was dusk and I took some more final photos of the building exterior. Too cool for words.

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NACT website. Public spaces are free. Ticket prices will vary depending on exhibition.

 

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