Japan’s contemporary arts scene used to be dominated by Tokyo, but since the 1990s Kyoto’s burgeoning art community has been growing from strength to strength. With organisations like Kyoto Art Box forming to promote Kyoto-based creatives, and longstanding establishments like the National Museum of Modern Art existing alongside independent art spaces, the city is becoming a must-visit place for art lovers. These are ten of our favourite contemporary art galleries in Kyoto.
Based in a leafy residential area in the east of the Higashiyama ward, Kaho Gallery was founded in 1996 and has presented exhibitions by some of Japan’s finest modern artists including abstract figurative painter Kokuta Suda; Ono Chikkyo, a nihonga painter who helped co-found the Kokuten Society, an artists’ collective based on the principle that all artists should have total freedom of expression; and Toshio Arimoto, whose paintings were influenced by a mix of European frescoes, traditional Japanese techniques and Buddhist sculpture. Kaho Gallery has also exhibited works by more contemporary artists such as German sculptor Reinhard Voss’ Bitter Lennon, a series of cubist-like faces sculpted from wood, and Japanese painter Shiro Ishibashi.
Kaho Gallery, Honmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan, +81 75 708 2670
Kodama Gallery originally opened its doors in 1998 in the neighbouring city of Osaka with the aim of providing an antidote to Japan’s Tokyo-dominated arts scene by focusing its efforts on promoting home grown talent from Osaka and Kyoto. In an effort to introduce more local artists to the Tokyo art world, Kodama opened a Tokyo branch in 2004 and in 2008 the original gallery relocated to its current premises in Kyoto, an ample space featuring two exhibition areas with a total area of 800 square metres. Kodama Gallery has exhibited such young talents as Mayuko Wada, a painter and sculptor who incorporates both traditional craft elements like origami and modern design styles like post-minimalism, and recently presented a retrospective of the works of Mamoru Sakagawa.
Located within the picturesque Maruyama Park, a prime location for viewing beautiful cherry blossoms and named a designated Place of Scenic Beauty by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, En Arts is a visual contemporary arts gallery with a focus on celebrating Japanese and international talent and bringing the best in contemporary Kyoto art to wider national and international audiences. Founded and run by Naomi Rowe, En Arts’ recent offerings included the group exhibition Eeny meeny miny moe|red – works by six artists themed around the colour red that included contributions by Kyoto-based painter Tamotsu Ikeya and abstract oil painter Keisuke Matsuda. En Arts represents the promising young artist Kim Kwang Nam, who creates brooding black and white pieces from photographic silkscreen prints and won the Kazue Kobata Prize at the 2012 Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Gallery Morning Kyoto
Gallery Morning Kyoto, a space for contemporary arts, craft and design, began operations in 2009 and concentrates on paintings, prints, objects and drawings. Situated in the heart of the city’s Okazaki cultural zone, Gallery Morning Kyoto is a small and intimate space that has its finger placed firmly on the pulse of the Japanese contemporary arts scene and offers art lovers the chance to buy works by some of the country’s most cutting-edge artists. Among the artists recently exhibited by Gallery Morning Kyoto are painter and illustrator Gassho Kaede, who at only 22 years of age is already gaining acclaim, and Kubo Ayane’s dreamlike and surreal paintings of people and landscapes.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.