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Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art

A contemporary art museum that is itself an architectural marvel

By Whitney Hubbell

Located along the waterfront in Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture, is the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art. This modern and contemporary art museum is the largest in Western Japan and was designed by Ando Tadao, one of the most celebrated contemporary architects in Japan.


Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art

Photo by: Whitney Hubbell Come and see one of the many exhibits in person.

The museum hosts special exhibitions of paintings, prints, and other artworks from both Japanese and foreign artists. Its special exhibitions often focus on the work of an individual artist but sometimes focus on a particular theme. The museum’s permanent collection consists of about 9,000 works of modern and contemporary art and features many artists with connections to Hyogo prefecture.

The museum features a few other permanent exhibits as well, such as the Ando Gallery which displays sketches and models of Ando’s architectural works. Outside the gallery on a terrace facing the sea is a sculpture of a giant green apple, an art installation inspired by the poem “Youth” by American poet Samuel Ullman. There is also an outdoor sculpture tour, which incorporates sculptures scattered around the museum’s exterior.

Besides its art and exhibits, the museum also has several facilities for public use including the Art Information Center, an auditorium, a lecture room and two art studios. The museum also has an exhibit-specific gift shop within the special exhibit, a permanent gift shop by the entrance, a restaurant and a cafe with a terrace overlooking the bay.

History and Architecture

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art

Photo by: PIXTA/ ryosei A work of art in itself.

Opened in 2002, the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art was built as a symbol of “Cultural Reconstruction” as part of Kobe’s recovery efforts after the Great Hanshin Earthquake destroyed much of the city in 1995. In his design for the museum, Ando wanted to consider Kobe’s relationship with the sea. At the time he was also commissioned to design the Kobe Waterfront Plaza and so integrated the two projects. Visitors can now exit the museum on the Osaka Bay side and take a pleasant walk along the Waterfront Plaza.

According to the museum’s website, the architectural concept of the museum is to not just display art but to integrate various types of art as well as to achieve “a complex and diverse spatial experience with a plain and simple structure.”

Ando’s design incorporates lots of natural light as well as produces a variety of changes in light. Much of the museum’s spectacular architectural features are accessible to those without a museum ticket. Highlights include the circular terrace, the large staircase by the waterfront, and the wind deck on top of the museum.

Things To Know

Hours and fees

Opening hours are 10 A.M.–6 P.M. The museum is closed on Mondays as well as for the New Year holiday.

Admission prices vary for the special exhibitions, and admission to the permanent exhibition is ¥500. Combination tickets for both the permanent collection and the current special exhibition are available.

How To Get There


By train

The museum is a 15-minute walk from JR Nada station and a 10-minute walk from Hanshin Iwaya station.

From JR Sannomiya station to Nada station it takes just 3 minutes and costs ¥140 and from Hanshin Sannomiya station to Iwaya station it takes 4 minutes and ¥160. 

The museum is also located right next to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum.

Where To Stay

Kobe Sannomiya Union Hotel
  • 2-1-10 Gokodori, Kobe-shi Chuo-ku, Hyogo, 651-0087 Japan
  • ¥6,912 - ¥34,047
  • 4.09/5 (5,490 reviews)
  • 1.7 km
Green Rich Hotel Kobe Sannomiya Futamata Yunohana
  • 4-1-22 Gokodori, Kobe-shi Chuo-ku, Hyogo, 651-0087 Japan
  • ¥8,800 - ¥36,300
  • 4.14/5 (117 reviews)
  • 1.8 km
Comfort Hotel ERA Kobe Sannomiya
  • 4-2-10 Kumoidori, Kobe-shi Chuo-ku, Hyogo, 651-0096 Japan
  • ¥7,000 - ¥42,400
  • 1.9 km
Ryotei Ryokan Hotel Isago Kobe
  • 4-3-7 Kumochicho, Kobe-shi Chuo-ku, Hyogo, 651-0056 Japan
  • ¥14,520 - ¥48,400
  • 4.41/5 (696 reviews)
  • 2.0 km
Sumitomo Fudosan Villa Fontaine Kobe-Sannomiya
  • 4-1-4 Asahidori, Kobe-shi Chuo-ku, Hyogo, 651-0095 Japan
  • ¥8,902 - ¥21,736
  • 4.06/5 (1,223 reviews)
  • 2.0 km

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