Japan is home to numerous museums focusing on a wide array of subject matter, whether it is history, art, science, or something more specific or specialised, like manga and anime, food, or transportation.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art – ©JNTO

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park – ©JNTO

Culture and History

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Located in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo, the Edo-Tokyo Museum houses a diverse collection of historical artifacts that show the lifestyle, culture, architecture, and economic and political situations of the past. It has life-sized displays of traditional vehicles and buildings, and miniature models of towns.

Tokyo National Museum

The oldest national museum of Japan, the Tokyo National Museum was founded in 1972. It boasts more than 110,000 archaeological, art, and other historical pieces that date back many centuries. It consists of six buildings that contain special exhibits and is located in Ueno Park.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Located at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park complex, the Peace Memorial Museum comprises two buildings that are home to a variety of items collected from the nuclear attack during World War II, such as personal belongings of victims, photographs, and building wall ruins.

Tokyo National Museum – ©JNTO

Tokyo National Museum – ©JNTO

Traditional Art

Nara National Museum

The Nara National Museum houses a large collection of Buddhism-related pieces — paintings, statues, scrolls and religious materials. Located in the Nara Park grounds, it was founded in 1889 and regularly hosts temporary exhibitions, the most notable being the annual Todaiji Temple’s Treasures Exhibition, held every autumn.

Kubota Itchiku Art Museum

Built alongside Lake Kawaguchiko, the Kubota Itchiku Museum is a unique museum dedicated to artist Kubota Itchiku, who helped revitalise the art and process of Tsujigahana silk dyeing of kimono about 500 years ago. It features a wide selection of elaborately designed kimono that depict various themes, including seasons, nature and the universe.

Contemporary Art

Mori Art Museum

Founded by real estate developer Minoru Mori, the Mori Art Museum is housed on the 53rd floor of a 54 storey-high skyscraper in the Roppongi Hills district in Tokyo. It is a venue for many temporary exhibits by local and foreign contemporary artists.

Chichu Art Museum

With a fantastic view of the Naoshima coast, the Chichu Art Museum sits on a hillside and showcases works by international artists such as the famous Water Lilies by Claude Monet, Open Sky by James Turrell, and Time/Timeless/No Time by Walter De Maria.

Naoshima Island is dubbed as an art island, with not only the Chichu Art Museum but also Benesse House and the Art House project where art is scattered around a small part of town. Naoshima is also used as a main venue for the Setouchi Triennale art festival.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Founded in 2004 in Kanazawa, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art features some of Japan’s and the world’s highly respected contemporary artists. Some of its acclaimed exhibits are Blue Planet Sky by James Turrell and Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich.

Sapporo Beer Museum –

Iga-ryu Ninja Museum – ©JNTO


National Science Museum

Located in Ueno Park, just a five-minute walk from Ueno Station, the National Science Museum offers an interactive atmosphere where visitors can participate in various hands-on robotics and physics experimentations.

Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum

For dinosaur and prehistoric life enthusiasts, the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum offers a vast collection of dinosaur exhibits, including over 40 skeletons, fossils, life-size dinosaur robots, photographs, artworks and videos.

Other Interests

Railway Museum

Located in Saitama City, the Railway Museum was established by the JR East Company and opened to the public in 2007. It provides an extensive look at the beginnings and progress of the Japanese railway network through the years through miniature models of trains and rail systems.

Ghibli Museum

The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka is highly recommended to fans of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. It contains exhibits from the studio’s well-loved films, such as Spirited Away, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, and My Neighbor Totoro.

Sapporo Beer Museum

Opened in 1987, the Sapporo Beer Museum was founded by Sapporo Breweries, maker of one of the country’s top beer brands. It features exhibitions that tell the history, production process and evolution of beer in Japan. Tours also include beer tastings.