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Yokohama Museum of Art

Striking art in an impressive museum

Most people go to Yokohama's lively Minato Mirai district for one of three things: shopping, eating, or shopping then eating. However, that's far from all the area has to offer; it's also home to Yokohama Museum of Art, one of the country's largest, just a stone's throw from Landmark Tower. From the outside it looks a little stern, like something from the former Soviet bloc, but once you get inside there's a complete change of atmosphere. So, put down the shopping bags and enjoy a restful half day admiring what Japan's leading contemporary artists have to offer.

Entering the museum brings you into the Grand Gallery, a striking, expansive space which sometimes houses temporary art displays or installations. As you admire the sculptures here you'll hear footfalls and whispers echoing around the long walls and vaulted ceiling, creating an atmosphere not unlike that of a cathedral. It also sets the tone for the whole museum; rather than being cramped and crowded in, the artworks are displayed throughout in plenty of space, so can be enjoyed at their best.

Part of the upper floor is often occupied by a special exhibition, perhaps by a solo artist or sometimes a group show, which could be anything from painting to ceramics, textiles to ink drawings. The rest of the floor always has an eclectic range of art on display taken from the museum's own collection; you'll find quirky sculptures, exquisite screen paintings, and a gallery given over to surrealist art, where pride of place goes to a large Dali triptych. There's usually also something interesting or thought-provoking to be found in the photography gallery, often with informative English explanations provided.

Before you leave, make sure you pop into the museum shop to pick up a souvenir of your visit. There's a huge selection of postcards here, and among the other goodies are art books and stationery, prints and posters, and delightful 3-D stereo viewers. If you want to admire your purchases over coffee and cake, there's a small, cozy café adjoining the shop, while Brasserie T`s Musee is the place for a full lunch or dinner. After all, art lovers can enjoy shopping and eating too!

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