The National Art Center is for architecture fans

The National Art Center stands as a beacon for photographers, beckoning with its captivating and distinctive design. Renowned among architecture enthusiasts, this landmark demands exploration. It also holds a special place in the hearts of shadow and black-and-white photography enthusiasts like myself.

Do you know Kisho Kurokawa?  He’s the architect who designed Nakagin Capsule Tower.  That was a fabulous building.  It was an important piece of architecture in Tokyo but it was demolished in 2023. I regret I didn’t photograph it more.  But this is not the case with the Art Center.  It’ll be around for a very long time.

Why photograph the National Art Center?

  1. It has a sleek, futuristic, undulating glass facade. This feature creates dynamic reflections and is visually striking.
  2. For example, two enormous inverted concrete cones house a restaurant and a cafe. They have a Star Wars feel to them, minus the Stormtroopers. They give the Center a futuristic look.
  3. The design incorporates natural light in innovative ways. Sunlight filters through the large glass facade into the interior spaces and interplays with shadows. This creates photographic opportunities during different times of the day.
  4. The building’s distinctive shape and structure offer photographers numerous angles and perspectives. You can use a wide-angle lens to capture the entire facade. Or you can use longer ones for close-ups highlighting specific architectural details. There’s ample opportunity for creativity and experimentation.
  5. There are symmetry and geometric patterns in the building. They make visually appealing compositions. Lines, curves, and patterns can create abstract or minimalist photographs.

How do I like to photograph it?

I like to photograph the National Art Center in black and white. That is the only way I shoot it. Why?

The building is concrete. Black-and-white photography emphasizes patterns, textures, and shapes. The interplay of light and shadows becomes more prominent. It enhances the visual impact and adds depth to an image. Color is a distraction to all this so let’s do without it.

When is the best time to photograph there?

The building faces south, so it’ll get sunlight for most of the day.  As long as the weather is good you’re assured of shadows, if you want them.  Of course, the time of day will affect their position and shape.

Can you photograph the interior?

Yes, as long as you don’t photograph visitors.

Wrapping up

Tokyo’s National Art Center is one of the city’s outstanding buildings. It offers opportunities for architectural and shadow photography. I can only show nine photos here, but I wish there were room for more. Maybe there’ll be another article for them in the future.

Where is the National Art Center?

It’s between Aoyama Cemetery and Roppongi. Two subway stations are nearby:

  • Nogizaka
  • Roppongi

Nogizaka is under the Center and so is easiest to use. Just leave by Exit 6.  Click here to see everything on Google Maps.

Official Address: 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo

Admission Costs

If you go to take photos of the building, it is free. Entering the galleries requires a cost, so consult the official website (the link is below).

Opening hours

  • Monday:  10 am to 6 pm.
  • Tuesday:  closed (if it is a holiday, it will close the following day)
  • Wed and Thurs:  10 am to 6 pm.
  • Fri and Sat:  10 am to 8 am.
  • Sunday:  10 am to 6 pm

You can enter up to 30 minutes before closing time.

For more black-and-white articles, look at:

External Websites

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