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Louise Bourgeois' spider sculpture 'Maman' in Roppongi | © mhiguera / Flickr
Louise Bourgeois' spider sculpture 'Maman' in Roppongi | © mhiguera / Flickr

The Best Public Art Pieces in Tokyo

Picture of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer
Updated: 20 February 2017

Public art not only lifts the spirits and beautifies the city, it helps to support the global community of artists. When it comes to public art, Tokyo is one big gallery. Take a tour of the city’s best public art pieces.

Constellation by Ikuo Hirayama

This beautiful stained glass display is located in the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center. It is a recreation of the late Ikuo Hirayama’s paintings and features stars and constellations mingling in a dark blue sky.

The Eye of Shinjuku by Yoshiko Miyashita

The Eye of Shinjuku has watched over the city for nearly fifty years, making it one of Tokyo’s oldest public art installations. It’s also the one for which Yoshiko Miyashita is best known. Find it at the West Exit of Shinjuku Station.

Roots by Jaume Plensa

Roots is not just interesting to look at, it makes you think. This enormous statue of a seated figure is made up entirely of written languages from around the world. The artist is Jaume Plensa, a Spanish artist known for his public artworks across the globe.

The Myth of Tomorrow by Taro Okamoto

This mural in Shibuya Station has earned itself the nickname “The Lost Mural.” It was commission for a Mexican hotel and went missing after the company went under. After it was rediscovered, it was sent back to Japan. The Myth of Tomorrow depicts the terror and damage of the atomic bomb, a theme that still resonates today.

Spiral Sikaku by Dimitri Hadzi

Spiral Sikaku is set against the flag stone boulevard known as Naka-dori. This street in Marunouchi is famous not only for its seasonal illuminations but for its relatively large, rotating collection of public street art. Dimitri Hadzi was an exceptional sculptor. She passed away in 2006 at the age of 85.

LOVE by Robert Indiana

Also called just “the Love Sign,” this simple but universal symbol has been the backdrop for countless couples’ photos in Tokyo. Find it near the i-Land (Island) Shinjuku. Similar installations can be found in other global cities like New York and Taipei.

Maman by Louise Bourgeois

This spider-like sculpture by the legendary French artist Louise Bourgeois is located in the Roppongi Hills courtyard and is nearly impossible to miss. Standing at over ten meters tall, Maman has traveled around the world and now enjoys her role as the mall’s most popular meeting spot.

Kodomo no Ki by Taro Okamoto

Meaning the “Children’s Tree” or “Tree of Children,” this sculpture by Taro Okamoto is located in Aoyama. Inspired by totems and other tribal motifs, this artwork is either cheerful or disturbing depending on who’s looking at it.