15 Best Museums to Explore in Japan

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Source: Alan Wilson

Japan has many attractive museums featuring all kinds of themes: disaster memorials, art, movies, trains or nature. It might be hard to figure what to visit, so we created this list of the 15 best museums to make your trip easier.

1. Ghibli Museum

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Source: Alberto Gragera

Ghibli Museum is located in Tokyo and is dedicated to all the movies made by Ghibli Studios. Fans of movies such as My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke must visit this museum. The building has several displays on the movies and the history of the company and shows visitors some animation techniques. There are also places where kids can play like the Cat Bus, as well as several souvenirs shops and restaurants.

Information

  • Price: 1000 yen
  • Access: a 20 minute walk from Mitaka Station
  • Opening hour: 10:00
  • Closing hour: 18:00
  • Holiday: Tuesdays and the New Year holidays
  • Website: http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/
  • An advance reservation is required!

2. SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

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Source: shinj_w

The SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is a museum in Nagoya owned by JR Central that is all about trains. The establishment has on display several types of train cars and locomotives, including old models. Many of the trains can be entered and explored or can be seen from below. There are also simulators where visitors can experience driving a train. A very interesting part of the museum is dedicated to maglev (magnetic levitation) trains, detailing JR’s plans of constructing such a train line between Tokyo and Osaka. Visitors can also enjoy train simulators,

Information

  • Price: 1000 yen
  • Access: just outside  Kinjofuto Station
  • Opening hour: 10:00
  • Closing hour: 17:30
  • Holiday: Tuesdays and December 28 to January 1
  • Website: http://museum.jr-central.co.jp/en/

3. Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum

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Source: Emran Kassim

The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is the only museum dedicated only to dinosaurs in Japan and also one of the “World’s Three Great Dinosaur Museums” along with two others from Canada and China. There are several exhibits including 40 dinosaur skeletons, life-sized animatronic dinosaurs and various video materials meant to teach people about history. The museum also features a zone where visitors can touch real fossils, a movie theater, a restaurant and a souvenir shop.

Information

  • Price: 770 yen
  • Access: just outside the Kyoryu Hakubutsukan-mae  bus station (take the bus bound for Nagaoyama from Katsuyama train station)
  • Opening hour: 09:00
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday: irregular days
  • Website: http://www.dinosaur.pref.fukui.jp/en/

4. Adachi Museum of Art

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Source: Wikimedia

Adachi Museum of Art was established in 1970 using the works collected by Zenko Adachi, a Japanese businessman. The museum was a way to combine his two passions: art and garden design. The building houses several paintings and ceramics by Japanese famous artists, the ones on display being rotated occasionally. The main highlight of the museum is its garden. Adachi collected pines and stones himself from all over the country, creating an astonishing garden with various themes.

Information

  • Price: 2300 yen (50% discount for foreign visitors)
  • Access: by free shuttle bus from  Yasugi Station
  • Opening hour: 09:00
  • Closing hour: 17:30
  • Holiday: none
  • Website: https://www.adachi-museum.or.jp/en/

5. National Art Center Tokyo

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Source: Eddy Milfort

National Art Center Tokyo is the largest museum in Asia. Unlike other national museums, it does not have a permanent exhibition, but hosts temporary exhibitions sponsored by other organizations, being able to accommodate up to 10 events at the same time. The Center also promotes education about art and organizes various workshops and seminaries every year. The building’s architecture is also interesting. The center’s façade is made of steel and glass that look like they are waving.

Information

  • Price: different prices for each exhibition
  • Access: just outside Nogizaka Station
  • Opening hour: 10:00
  • Closing hour: 18:00
  • Holiday: Tuesdays
  • Website: http://www.nact.jp/english/

6. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

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Source: Gwydion M. Williams

The Peace Park in Hiroshima was created in the memory of the atomic bomb victims and also to remind people about the horrors of the bomb. The park was created in an open space left by the explosion and houses a number of monuments such as the Peace Flame, the Memorial Cenotaph, the Memorial Mound, and the Peace Bells. There is also a museum where visitors can see artifacts that were left after the explosion and learn more about what happened during those terrible days.

Information

  • Price: 50 yen
  • Access: just outside Genbaku-Domu Mae tram station
  • Opening hour: 08:30
  • Closing hour: 18:00
  • Holiday: December 29 to January 1
  • Website: http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/index_e2.html

7. Nara National Museum

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Source: 陳 ポーハン

The Nara National Museum features a big collection of Buddhist art and items like scrolls, sculptures, and altar items. Many objects that are on display belong to the temples and shrines in the area. It was established in 1889 and the old building is still in use. A new wing was added to the original one which now houses temporary exhibitions. There is also an attractive tea house in the inner garden of the museum. The tea house can be rented for tea parties, ikebana workshops, haiku poem gathering or other cultural activities.

Information

  • Price: 520 yen
  • Access:  a 15 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station
  • Opening hour: 09:30
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday: Mondays and January 1
  • Website: http://www.narahaku.go.jp/english/index_e.html

8. Otsuka Museum of Art

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Source: Kzaral

The Otsuka Museum of Art is located in Naruto and is one of the largest exhibition spaces in Japan, featuring reproductions of all famous Western artists like Picasso, Monet or Michelangelo. Paintings were copied in detail onto ceramic plates, which is said to preserve the work for a very long time. Major works include Guernica, Villa of the Mysteries and the Sistine Chapel. The museum also houses reproductions of tomb, altars or church halls.

Information

  • Price:  3240 yen
  • Access: next to  Naruto Koen bus stop (take the bus from Naruto Station)
  • Opening hour: 09:30
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday:  Mondays and New Year Holidays
  • Website: http://www.o-museum.or.jp/english/

9. Teshima Art Museum

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Source: 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia

The Teshima Art Museum is a bit different from other museums, because it hosts a single piece of art. But the idea behind the structure is not a collection of paintings or objects. The idea is to unite the force of the elements to create a special atmosphere. The museum has the shape of a water drop as it lands on the ground and has several elliptical holes in the roof that expose it to sunshine and rain. Walking around the building will make you feel out this world.

Information

  • Price: 1540 yen
  • Access: by shuttle bus from Ieura Port
  • Opening hour: 10:00
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
  • Website: http://benesse-artsite.jp/en/art/teshima-artmuseum.html

10. Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum

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Source: x768

The Kobe Earthquake Museum was made as a remainder of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. Located in the port area in Meriken Park, the museum consists of an actual building with various exhibitions, including a large screen which shows the destructive power of such a disaster, and an area which was preserved after the earthquake. The preserved area shows exactly how Meriken Park looked after the earthquake stopped, with crooked streetlights and crumbled concrete.

Information

  • Price: 600 yen
  • Access: a 10 minute walk from Iwaya Station
  • Opening hour: 09:30
  • Closing hour: 17:30
  • Holiday: Mondays  and New Year holidays
  • Website: http://www.dri.ne.jp/english

11. Tokyo National Museum

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Source: xiquinhosilva

The Tokyo National Museum is the largest art museum in the country and of the largest ones in the entire world. The museum houses a variety of art pieces and objects from all over Asia, with an emphasis on Japan. Its collection has over 110,000 items, among which 87 of them are National Treasures and 610 are considered Important Cultural Property. Besides paintings, visitors can see woodblock prints, samurai swords, Buddhist sculptures and many other items.

Information

  • Price: 620 yen
  • Access: a 10 minute walk from Ueno Station
  • Opening hour: 09:30
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday:  Mondays and New Year holidays
  • Website: http://www.tnm.jp/?lang=en

12. National Museum of Nature and Science

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Source: Yoshikazu Takada

Japan’s National Science Museum is located in Ueno Park, Tokyo and features several exhibitions related to nature and science. From stuffed animals and dinosaur bones to physics experiments and full-scale airplanes, this museum has it all. There is also a 360 degrees theater where visitors can experience movies about nature and space that feel real. The museum includes a restaurant and a souvenir shop.

Information

  • Price: 620 yen
  • Access: a 5 minute walk from Ueno Station
  • Opening hour: 09:00
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday: Mondays  and New Year holidays
  • Website: http://www.kahaku.go.jp/english/

13. The Railway Museum

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Source: David McKelvey

The Railway Museum in Saitama is owned by the  East Japan Railway Culture Foundation and is divided intro six zones: the “Entrance Zone”, featuring a large railway diorama, the“History Zone”, that is the main exhibition area, the“Collection Zone”, which contains a library, the “Learning Zone”, where visitors can see how trains are being constructed, the “Park Zone”, where people are allowed to drive a mini train and the “North Wing”, where children can play.

Information

  • Price: 1000 yen
  • Access: outside Tetsudo Hakubutsukan Station
  • Opening hour: 10:00
  • Closing hour: 18:00
  • Holiday: Tuesdays and New Year holidays
  • Website: http://www.railway-museum.jp/en/

14. Mount Unzen Disaster Memorial Hall

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Source: Wikimedia

Mount Unzen is an active volcano that had many major eruptions in the latest centuries. The Disaster Memorial Hall in Shimabara was built to commemorate Mount Unzen’s latest eruption in the 1990s. The museum teaches visitors through images and videos about volcanoes and the eruption process. The highlight of the museum is an eruption simulator. Houses buried by the volcano ash mudflows were also preserved under a structure and can be observed today.

Information

  • Price: 1000 yen
  • Access: next to Arena Iriguchi bus station (take a bus bound for Katsusa from Shimabara city)
  • Opening hour: 09:0 0
  • Closing hour: 18:00
  • Holiday: irregular days
  • Website: http://www.udmh.or.jp/english.html

15. Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

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Source: Norio Nakayama

The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum in Saitama features an indoor exhibition with various materials on the plants’ history, as well as a garden packed with bonsai trees. The museum is located in the Omiya Bonsai Village, which houses many bonsai nurseries. Several specimens of plants can be bought, including gardening and care tools. The nursery owners are always happy to answer questions related to bonsai growing so don’t hesitate to show your interest!

Information

  • Price: 300 yen
  • Access: a 15 minute walk from Omiya Station
  • Opening hour: 09:00
  • Closing hour: 16:00
  • Holiday:  Thursdays and New Year holidays
  • Website: http://www.bonsai-art-museum.jp/en/

Have fun exploring!

Have a nice trip and travel!

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Asia, Japan