Culture Kanto Travel Guide

10 Best Museums to Visit in Tokyo

The history of Japan is one full of events, culture, natural wonders, and unique personal stories unlike those found anywhere else. As a great crossroads of history, commerce, and culture, Tokyo is home to many museums that offer great opportunities to experience and learn so much about Japan!

Whether you are deeply interested in the subject or just looking for a calm break from a busy trip with a packed itinerary, a museum visit can be a great addition to your schedule.

Here are ten of the best museums in Tokyo. Check them out to see if they are a good fit for your trip!

1. Tokyo National Museum

A Buddha Statue at Tokyo National Museum. Photo Credit: Ian Muttoo at Flickr.

The Tokyo National Museum is one of the top museums in Japan and is also the oldest and largest of these prestigious institutions.

It was established in 1972. Over the years, it has accumulated a vast collection of 110,000 art and cultural artifacts. The museum complex consists of six buildings, each hosting a different section of the collection.

English-speaking visitors can easily get English information and audio guides for their visit. There are also teahouses and a Japanese garden on the grounds.

You can get to the Tokyo National Museum by going to Ueno Park, about a five to ten-minute walk from Ueno Station. Permanent exhibitions cost 100 yen, while special exhibitions are between 1000 to 1500 yen.

2. National Museum of Nature and Science

Photo Credit: baron valium at Flickr.

Also located in Ueno Park, the National Museum of Nature and Science has more than 25,000 exhibits about everything under the sun and some things beyond it.

The museum’s goal is to foster “the coexistence of the human race and nature”.

Enjoy exhibits that focus on dinosaurs, modern animals, astronomy, modern Japanese ecosystems, and more. One of the highlights is the museum’s domed 360-degree movie theater.

There is also a children’s area and a museum gift shop. General admission costs 630 yen.

3. Ghibli Museum

Totoro, a character of the animation film called My Neighbor Totoro. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A perfect museum for the young and young at heart, the Ghibli Museum transports visitors into the beautiful and creative worlds of Studio Ghibli.

The museum building itself is something out of a storybook or one of the studio’s films. Inside, the charming exhibits take visitors into the world of animation.

There are several floors to visit, full of winding staircases, tiny doors, and a rooftop garden at the top of it all. The Ghibli Museum is located in the western suburbs of Tokyo, on the edge of Inokashira Park.

There is a shuttle bus from Mitaka Station, though you can walk from there as well as Kichijoji Station.

Tickets sell out fast and can be quite complex (though well worth it). Tickets go on sale every month on the tenth for the following months. They sell out very quickly, so be sure to get them early!

Here you can find some amazing Anime and Manga museums in Japan.

4. Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This open-air museum features a wide range of historic buildings from throughout Tokyo and its long history.

All of the buildings found here were either carefully relocated here or constructed on sight for maximum historical authenticity. Most of the buildings are from the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

The museum is located on the edge of Koganei Park. Take either the Seibu Shinjuku Line to Hana-Koganei Station (280 yen) or JR Chuo Line to Musashi-Koganei Station from Shinjuku Station.

The park is then a short bus ride away or a 15-30 minute walk away. Admission costs 400 yen.

5. MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless

Photo Credit: dconvertini at Flickr.

Creative, intriguing, and often wonderous, this museum displays art created by the art collective teamLab. There are over 10,000 square meters to explore.

The artwork is highly interactive and immersive, allowing you to visit incredible landscapes not found anywhere else, like “Forest of Resonating Lamps” and “Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, Floating Nest”.

Admission costs 3200 yen. To get there, take the Yurikamome Line to Aomi Station and head through the north exit. The museum is a very short walk away.

6. Edo-Tokyo Museum

Edo-Tokyo Museum. Photo Credit: Joe Mabel at Flickr.

The unique building that houses this museum can be found in the Ryokogu District.

It covers the incredible past of Tokyo from the Edo Period until recent times. This includes not just major events, but the way of life that was lived by Tokyo’s many denizens in days gone by.

There are many models of tons, figurines, and even life-0sized figures that can help you better understand the history of this incredible city.

You can access the Edo-Tokyo Museum by walking five minutes from Ryokgou Station. Admission costs 600 yen, with special exhibits costing extra.

7. Tokyo Photographic Art Museum

Tokyo Photographic Art Museum.

This three-story museum features 33,000 still and moving images.

This museum underwent substantial renovations in 2016 and is state-of0the-art. The genres in its collections range from landscape photography to historical events to fashion photography.

You can take a taxi to get there, or you can take the JR Yamanote Line or Hibiya subway line to Ebisu Station. The museum is a short walk from there.

8. The Railway Museum

Some previously used train cars in exhibition. Photo Credit: Osamu Iwasaki at Flickr.

Rail has played a key part of Japan’s history and its incredible economic development. The Railway Museum was opened in 2007 by JR East.

Visitors can learn how to operate a train using simulators and learn about how rail technology in Japan has changed over the years.

You can see a large collection of old train cars as well as one of Japan’s largest dioramas. There are also outdoor play areas for children.

You can get to this museum by going to Tetsudo Hakubutsukan Station, where it sits just outside. Take a three-minute ride from Omiya Station by the New Shuttle and you’ll be there!

9. Nezu Museum

Nezu Museum in Minato City, Tokyo. Photo Credit: Kenta Mabuchi at Flickr.

This unique art museum contains over 7,400 works and focuses on Buddhist art. Besides art, there is also a beautiful Japanese garden. It is a serene experience.

You can also enjoy lunch or tea at the Nezu Café, which sits inside the garden.

To get there, take the Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, or Hanzomon Line to Omtoe-Sando Station, then walk about 8 minutes to the museum. Admission cost varies.

10. Mori Art Museum

Photo Credit: Michael Stout at Flickr.

You can find these museums high atop the Mori Tower, on its 52nd and 53rd floors. The contemporary exhibits largely come from Asian artists. The exhibits are not permanent but constantly change.

It’s a dynamic art exhibit and you never know quite what amazing thing you’ll find there. The museum’s restaurant occasionally offers themed menus to go with some exhibitions.

The view is also incredible, giving you a beautiful look a Tokyo from the museum’s two observation decks. One is indoors, the Tokyo City View, while the Sky Deck is the highest open-air observation deck in Japan and a popular spot for stargazing. Ticket prices vary.

Take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to Roppongi Station, which is directly linked to the museum’s location in Roppongi Hills, or take the Toei Subway Oedo Line and walk 4 minutes from Roppongi Station or 5 minutes from Azabu-Juban Station.

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