Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum: Enjoy both architecture and art!

The Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, which has been restored as much as possible to its original appearance 125 years ago, charms with a beautiful red brick exterior and classic looking interior. For this article, we visited the current exhibition focussing on “children in art” celebrating the 10th anniversary since the museum’s opening.

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo

In 1894, when Tokyo Station hadn’t been built yet and there were no other buildings around, Mitsubishi built the “Mitsubishi Ichigokan” (designed by Josiah Conder) at this location. The name means “first Mitsubishi building” and it marked the beginning of the Marunouchi office area that is now on the west side of Tokyo Station. In addition to the bank office of the Mitsubishi limited partnership, the company also had a rental office space inside this building. This was actually the first rental office building in Japan!

The beautiful yard is very popular and is often used as a background for wedding photos.

In 1968, the building had to be dismantled due to its deterioration, but it was restored in the same design and with a base isolation structure – to prevent earthquake damage – in almost the same place as before.

For the stone stairs, some parts from the old days have been used. Pay attention to the difference in color!

This glass ceiling for disaster prevention. The black wooden blocks were used to hammer nails into the wall.

The Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, which opened in 2010, holds three exhibitions each year featuring modern art, mainly from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo

Dreamed childhoods – Bonnard, the Nabis and childhood

For the 10th anniversary of the museum’s opening, the museum is currently holding an exhibition of paintings showing “children” by the avant-garde artist group “Nabis” in late 19th century Paris. The Nabis took their name from the Hebrew word “nebiim” (prophet). The style of “Nabis” (or les Nabis in French) is part of modern art that came up after the French Impressionism. “Nabis” paintings are characterized by the usage of “colors you feel in your heart” rather than by the genuine shades of reality.

Inside the so-called “Prologue Room”. Until the 19th century, children were portrayed as “small adults”, but from the latter half of the 19th century, they were more and more painted as individuals.
Van Gogh’s painting, which was also used as the poster image for the exhibition. The staff told us, that there are surprisingly few paintings of children shown straight from the front.
A common theme for these paintings is the “windows” that appear in all the works.

The exhibition shows around 100 oil paintings, prints, sketches, picture books, and photographs by artists, such as Van Gogh, Bonnard, Vuillard, Doni, Vallotton, etc. Since it is an exhibition about children portrayed in art, of course, all the pictures somehow include children. Therefore, you will find many portraits, but there are also works showing children in landscapes or city scenes.

Félix Vallotton “Petits anges” 1894

The situations and ways of drawing are very diverse. Besides, you can really feel the strong commitment by the museum to make full use of the architectural space for the display of the artworks. The best part of the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum is that you can enjoy both: architecture and paintings!

Pierre Bonnard “Promenade des nourrices, frise de fiacres” 1897

*The exhibition “Dreamed childhoods – Bonnard, the Nabis and childhood” will be held until September 22, 2020.
Please buy your ticket in advance if possible. Click here for details:

Limited dessert at a tasteful cafe

You can enter the cafe through the museum or using the main entrance. You don’t need a ticket for the museum to enjoy a snack or a cup of coffee at the cafe.

Don’t miss the museum’s cafe/bar “Café 1894” attached to the museum. The hall which uses the restored space that used to be a bank office has a high ceiling and the classic wooden interior is very chic. Also worth mentioning: the cafe usually offers a tie-up menu inspired by the ongoing exhibition.

The cafe kind of resembles the British Parliament. Très chic!

This time, for the “children seen though art exhibition”, the cafe has children’s lunch for adults, named “Dream Children’s Lunch” for lunchtime. For teatime, they have “Spring-colored small pancakes” using the same color palette as the exhibition poster. Cute!

Pancakes topped with strawberries, ganache, and rum raisin ice cream. Yes, this is for adults!

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo
2-6-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps:
Nearest Stations: Tokyo Station, Yurakucho Station, Otemachi Station, Nijubashimae Station, Hibiya Station
*For car parking, please use the “Marunouchi Parking”
(There is a discount service according to the amount spent at nearby shops and restaurants.)