all photos by Osamu Watanabe courtesy the 21st Century Museum of Art

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa is a renowned art museum known for its unique architecture and innovative exhibition design. Designed by the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the firm SANAA, the museum was completed in 2004 and has since become a landmark in Kanazawa.


One of the most distinctive features of the museum is its circular shape, which is meant to evoke the image of a UFO landing on the ground. The circular shape also creates a sense of openness and fluidity, allowing visitors to move freely throughout the space. The museum is surrounded by a large circular pool, which further enhances the feeling of lightness and fluidity.

The museum’s interior is equally striking, with a series of interconnected circular spaces that spiral around a central courtyard. The galleries are arranged in a continuous loop, allowing visitors to move seamlessly from one exhibition to the next. The museum also features a large glass atrium, which provides natural light and views of the surrounding cityscape.

One of the most notable aspects of the museum’s architecture is its use of glass. The walls and ceilings of the galleries are made almost entirely of glass, creating a sense of transparency and openness. This design allows visitors to see the artworks in natural light and creates a dialogue between the art and the surrounding environment.

The museum is a must-see for anyone visiting Kanazawa, a region of Japan known for its rich history and cultural heritage that is reflected in its many temples, shrines and traditional crafts.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art
Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (Friday and Saturday until 20:00)
Closed Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday)
General Admission: 1200 yen