Top Museums to Visit in Japan

Most museums are closed Mondays.


Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum

The world’s largest collection of Japanese art. Comprehensive collection of the invaluable cultural properties of Japan and other Asian countries. Open 9:00–17:00, ¥1000–1500. JR Yamanote line to JR Ueno Station. Follow signs to museum. 03-3822-1111.

Transportation Museum

Trains are the big feature. Real-life exhibits include Imperial carriages and Japan’s first steam locomotive. Nautical, automotive, and aerial exhibits as well. Open 9:30–17:00, ¥310. JR Sobu local line to Akihabara Station. Use exit sign “Electric Sign.” Follow signs to museum. 03-3823-6921.

Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum,

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Collections by contemporary Japanese artist groups whose works include oil paintings, traditional-style Japanese paintings, sculptures, crafts, graphic designs, and calligraphy. Special exhibitions as well. Open 9:00–17:00, fee varies. JR Yamanote to JR Ueno Station. Use Park exit and follow signs to museum. 03-3823-6921.

National Museum of Western Art

An impressive collection of Western art. The main building was designed by Le Corbusier. Focus on Rodin and the French Impressionists. Open 9:30–17:00, ¥130 (student rate). Use same directions as Metropolitan Art Museum. 03-3828-5131.

Kanto Earthquake Museum

Housed in a temple, this museum holds exhibits that survived the disastrous 1923 Tokyo earthquake and charts the occurrence of earthquakes in the Tokyo area. Open 9:00–16:30, Free! JR Sobu local line to Ryogoku station. Use Sumo Stadium exit. 03-3623-1200.

Fukagawa Edo Museum

A hauntingly authentic recreation of a whole block of Edo’s waterfront neighborhood, several hundred years ago. Leave your shoes at the door and walk into 17th-century Japanese life. It feels as if the people had just stepped outside for a minute. Open 9:30–15:00, ¥300. Torai Subway line to Monzen-nakacho Station. Exit towards Etai Dori Avenue. Find a police box and ask for a detailed map in English.

Meiji Jingu Treasure Museum

Meiji Jingu Treasure Museum

Near the Meiji Jingu Shrine and Gardens. Displays items that belonged to Emperor Meiji, who laid the foundations of modern day Japan. Open 9:00–16:00, ¥50. JR Yamanote to Hanajuku Station. Follow signs to museum.

Natural Science Museum

General scientific displays plus origin of Japanese people and technology. Open 9:00-16:30, ¥420. Ueno Park. Same directions as Metropolitan Art Museum. 03-3822-0111.

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

Largely contemporary photography collections; includes computer generated graphics. Open 10:00–18:00, ¥500. JR Yamanote to JR Ebisu Station. Leave using the East exit. 03-3280-0031.