Tokyo Guide: Tokyo Museums
Tokyo Area Guide: Tokyo Museums & Galleries
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art | Shinjuku Historical Museum | Teien Metropolitan Museum | Tokyo National Museum | National Art Center | Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | National Museum of Nature and Science | National Museum of Modern Art | Metropolitan Museum of Photography | Railway Museum | Subway Museum | Edo Tokyo Museum | Tobacco and Salt Museum | War Memorial Museum | Bridgestone Museum of Art | Mori Art Museum | Tokyo Metropolitan Police Museum | Tokyo Water Science Museum | Origami House | Folk Craft Museum | The Kite Museum | Japan Football Museum | Meguro Parasitological Museum | Daimyo Clock Museum | Asakura Sculpture Museum | Grutt Pass | Eat & Drink
See a listing of museums and art galleries in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Find a description of each museum, including telephone number and directions on how to get there. Any visit to Tokyo and Japan should include a visit to at least a few of the many excellent museums and galleries in the country.
The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art is among the first museums dedicated to modern art in Japan, having been established in 1979 in Tokyo's Shinagawa ward. It is a quietly imposing art deco presence on a quiet street, some way from the nearest station. The building itself, however, dates from 1938, when it was built as a private house, designed by the architect Jin Watanabe (who also designed the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno). The Museum's collection comprises about 1,000 paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations representing a wide range of artists from around the world active from the 1950s to the present. It is open only during exhibitions. The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art includes a sculpture garden and a Cafe d'Art that overlooks it. The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art has a sister gallery, the Hara Museum ARC, in Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture. See what's on now at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art.
Shinjuku Historical Museum in Shinjuku ward, Tokyo, recounts the history of this ward - one of Tokyo's most important - since the beginnings of its human habitation tens of thousands of years ago up to before the Second World War. This small, but interactive, modern, and memorable museum has enough English to recommend it to those who do not read Japanese, and adjoins a beautiful sunken garden.
Located in Meguro, Tokyo Teien Metropolitan Museum is an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1933. It was formerly the residence of Prince Asaka and houses many period pieces. The grounds are also lovely. It is a 6-7 minute walk from Meguro Station on the Yamanote Line. Admission to the garden for adults is presently 200, seniors 100, college & university students 160, high school & junior high school 100. Admission for special exhibits will cost more. See what's on now at the Tokyo Teien Metropolitan Museum.
The massive Tokyo National Museum (Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan) which opened in 1938 is a short walk from Ueno or Uguisudani Stations on the Yamanote Line. Tokyo National Museum houses the largest collection of Japanese art in the world: calligraphy, ceramics, statuary, swords, paintings and Buddhist treasures from Horyuji Temple in Nara. There are also extensive collections from Korea, China, India, Central Asia, and Egypt. Admission is presently 420 for adults, 130 for college students.
Nearest station Ueno (Park exit). Tel: 03 3822 1111.
The vast National Art Center, Tokyo opened at the beginning of 2007. The National Art Center Tokyo is a short walk from Roppongi Hills. Designed by Kisho Kurokawa, the gleaming glass structure is Japan's largest exhibition space. Dedicated to special exhibitions, it has no permanent collection of its own.
Nearest stations: Roppongi on the Hibiya and Oedo Lines or Nogi-zaka station (Exit 6) on the Chiyoda Line. Tel: 03 6812 9900.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo houses international and Japanese post-war modern art. Opened in 1995, it is Tokyo's first public art gallery devoted to modern art. As well as its permanent collection (entrance fee 500 yen) it has regular special exhibitions (usually about 800-1,000 yen).
The permanent collection has around 4,000 works, about 100 of which are on display at any one time. It includes works by Andy Warhol (including his Marilyn Monroe (1967)), Roy Lichtenstein (including his Girl with Hair Ribbon (1965)), David Hockney, Gerhard Richter, Julian Schnabel, Frank Stella, and Sandro Chia.
The Museum has free internet access (directly across from the entrance that you use when approaching from Kiba Park), a restaurant on the B2 floor (open11am-6pm), a museum shop, an art library, an art information gallery, an observation deck, and indoor parking but for only 50 cars (access by other than car recommended).
Open: 10am-6pm (tickets on sale until 5.30pm). Closed Monday, except if Monday is a national or substitute holiday, in which case it closes Tuesday.
Access: 9 min walk from Kiyosumi-shirakawa subway station, exit B2, on the Hanzomon Line. 13 min walk from Kiyosumi-shirakawa subway station, exit A3, on the Toei Oedo Line. 15 min walk from Kiba subway station, exit 3, on the Tozai Line.
The National Museum of Nature and Science is in Ueno Park. Exhibits
include the evolution of living things, the flora and fauna of Japan, and the solar system. You can also learn about the history of the human
habitation of Japan. There are frequent special exhibitions. An English
guidebook is available at the front desk. Only 420 yen for adults, 70
yen for 1st-12th grade children.
Nearest station Ueno (Park exit). Tel: 03 3822 0111. www.kahaku.go.jp
Tokyo's other Science Museum, an attractive white concrete lattice-work structure located in Kitanomarukoen, is aimed mainly at children. The Science Museum is good fun and educational for all the family. Opened in 1964, the Science Museum has many interactive exhibits, including features on computers and communications, raw materials and energy, light, space, engines and motors and electricity. The Science Museum short walk from either Takebashi (on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line) or Kudanshita Stations (also on the Tozai Line).
Totally refurbished for its reopening in 2002, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, specializes in contemporary Japanese art from the Meiji Period (1868-1912) onwards. Permanent exhibits include both Japanese and Western-style painting, drawings, prints, and sculpture. The museum also hosts regular international exhibitions.
The Crafts Gallery, in Kitanomaru Koen Park, is an annex of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Housed in a red-brick Neo Gothic building dating from 1910, it was originally the headquarters of the Imperial Guard.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo's Ebisu district is a 4-story archive and display space dedicated to photography and video - the only museum of its kind in Japan. It has a permanent collection of over 24,000 works, and three exhibition halls and a movie hall to display them in. The library on the 4th floor has over 60,000 volumes. The Museum was founded in 1995 and forms part of the Ebisu Garden Place complex.
The Railway Museum is a large, modern museum of railway technology and culture, located in Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture, about 20km north of central Tokyo.
The Tokyo Subway Museum is located in Kasai in eastern Tokyo. The museum features a number of historic train carriages, video displays, poster exhibitions, model train layouts and hands-on simulation games. The Tokyo Subway Museum is an excellent stop for train-mad children and their parents.
Take the JR Sobu Line (local train) to Ryogoku Station. From the west exit of the station follow the signs. The massive six-storey Edo-Tokyo Museum is about a 3-minute walk. The permanent exhibit at the Edo Tokyo Museum features politics, culture, and the history of Tokyo. There are over 2,500 original prints, scrolls, kimonos, and maps. Admission: 600 yen for adults, 480 yen for college students, 300 yen for junior high school & high school students and seniors. Features special exhibitions too.
The quirky Tobacco and Salt Museum is across from the Tobu Hotel not far from Shibuya Station. Admission is 100 yen for adults, 50 yen for students. An interesting look at the various uses of tobacco and salt throughout history, both of which were government monopolies in Japan until recently. Cigarette packets, pipes and smoking paraphenalia from around the globe. Special exhibitions on a variety of themes.
A shrine for the Japanese right-wing, the recently tastefully refurbished Yushukan War Memorial Museum is located in the grounds of the Yasukuni Shrine and is dedicated to Japanese war dead, among whom Hideki Tojo is the most notorious. Annual visits by some Japanese prime ministers to worship - and shore up their political right - assure swift denunciations from China and South Korea. There are interesting exhibitions of soldiers' personal effects from 1894 to the end of World War II, as well as aircraft (including a kamikaze flying bomb), artillery pieces, a tank and a suicide attack submarine (kaiten), along with well-presented panel displays and videos extolling Japan's military adventures.
The Bridgestone Museum of Art was founded in 1952 by Ishibashi Shojiro (1889-1976), the founder of the Bridgestone Corporation. The Museum is devoted to Impressionism and other modern European art. The Bridgestone Museum of Art is located in the headquarters of the Bridgestone Corporation, only 200m from Tokyo Station. The Museum features works by Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Roualt, and Klee in its permanent collection.
The Mori Art Museum is one of the jewels in the Roppongi Hills complex. Located on the 53rd floor of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. Cutting edge exhibits, the very first of which, "Happiness," took the Tokyo art world by storm, drawing 700,000 visitors in three months. See what's on now at the Mori Art Musuem.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Museum in Yurakucho is dedicated to the history of the Japanese capital's police force from Edo times to now.
The Tokyo Water Science Museum (Mizu no Kagakukan) is a fun and friendly educational resource about water and its supply, provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Bureau of Waterworks. The Aqua Tour, a half-hour tour (10am to 4.15pm, every 15 mins) is of the Ariake water supply station that occupies the three basement floors. Lots of audience participation. (Japanese only). A huge range of fun, interactive, hands-on displays, experiments, quiz games, demonstrations, etc. fill the three spacious floors above ground. The third floor Aqua Planet virtual theater experience of a white water rafting trip is a must-do. (9.45am to 4.30pm, every 15 mins).
One minute from Exit 1 of Hakusan Station on the Mita Line you will find one of the most interesting little museums in Tokyo. Origami House is open from 10 am-6 pm, Monday-Saturday, and has origami exhibits that feature dinosaurs, insects, masks, fantasy, and many more.
The Japan Folk Crafts Museum is located 5 minutes from the Komaba Todai Mae Station on the Inokashira Line. Take the west exit. The Japan Folk Crafts Museum has frequent exhibits on textiles, Japanese lacquerware, and more. Open 10 am to 5 pm. Closed Mondays. 1000 yen for adults, 500 yen for university and high school students, and 200 yen for elementary and junior high school students.
The Kite Museum is located on the fifth floor of the Taimeiken Building.
1-12-10 Nihonbashi. It is two blocks from Coreda away from Tokyo Station.
Open 11 am to 5 pm. Closed Sundays and holidays. 200 yen.
The Japan Football Museum opened in 2003 and is dedicated to the 2002
World Cup held jointly in Japan and Korea, the history of Japanese soccer
and the country's premier professional soccer competition - the J-League.
The Meguro Parasitological Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world, a museum dedicated to bugs, parasites and other creatures that live in or on other organisms.
The Daimyo Clock Museum, located close to Nezu Shrine, contains a private collection of traditional Japanese clocks or wa-dokei. The museum is so-called as only feudal lords or daimyo were allowed to keep these clocks and had the means to maintain them. Japanese clocks were based on an early western clock presented to a feudal lord in Yamaguchi Prefecture by Francis Xavier. In Edo Period Japan time corresponded to the position of the sun and a day was divided into 12 time periods: 6 for the daytime and six for nighttime. The system obviously varied with the seasons and the six daytime time periods were not the same length as the six night periods - except at the equinoxes when they are equal. The 12 periods were named after animals of the Zodiac.
The Asakura Sculpture Museum, in Tokyo's beautiful Yanaka area is the former residence and studio of the sculptor Fumio Asakura (1883-1964). The building is a balance of a Japanese-style residential wing and a Western-style studio wing and, together with its elegant garden, the building is as big an attraction as the exhibits themselves. Asakura was a prolific sculptor in bronze, and his works depicting humans and animals can be seen throughout, together with his extensive library, collected ceramics, and other curios. This (by Japanese standards) sprawling property makes for a memorable encounter with Japanese history, artistic creativity and natural beauty.
Grutt Pass (pronounced 'goo-ROO-to,' - Japanese onomatopoeia for 'going around').
Tokyo has every kind of restaurant, bar and cafe imaginable and some more. Restaurants in Tokyo range from the ultra expensive and exclusive to down-to-earth noodle joints. After dark, Tokyo offers some of the best and most exciting bars, cafes and clubs on the planet to relax and unwind.
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