6 Best Museums That Are Worth-Visiting in Tokyo
Boasting world-class technological advancements, mouthwatering delicacies, and ultimate shopping destinations, Japan is definitely one of the few countries that give you a full travel experience and a peek into their local culture.
But to give you a glimpse of Japan’s rich and diverse history, it’s a must to visit Tokyo City’s museum which showcases artefacts that date back to the early times, works of homegrown artists, and unique displays that will make you admire Japan even more.
1. Tokyo National Museum
Established in 1872, Tokyo National Museum is ranked as the city’s oldest and largest national museums in the country. It houses one of the largest and best art collections and archeological artefacts comprising 110,000 items and a hundred national treasures. There are six separate buildings that are large enough to be a museum of its own — the Honkan, Hyokeikan, Toyokan, Heiseikan, Kuroda Memorial Hall and the Horyuji Homotsukan (the newest among them). Apart from the numerous exhibitions, there are Japanese-style gardens and teahouses within the museum’s grounds in Ueno Park.
2. National Museum of Western Art
If you want a closer look at the personal collection of Japanese Industrialist named Matsukata Kojiro, then head on over to the National Museum of Western Art. Built in the mid-19th century but opened to the public in 1959, the museum originally houses the extensive art collection of the shipping mogul. While Mr. Kojiro’s collections remained in Europe after the Second World War, it was agreed upon between the Japanese and French to return the artworks to Japan provided that the museum be designed by a Frenchman. Thus, the main building was designed by Le Corbusier — one of the architects who designed the United Nations Headquarters Building in New York City.
3. Edo-Tokyo Museum
Take a journey of Tokyo’s origins by paying a visit to Edo-Tokyo Museum. Established in 1993, this is the country’s premier museum which is dedicated to the history of Tokyo during the Edo period. Here, you’ll find a life-size replica of the bridge leading into Edo (Nihonbashi Bridge), and some towns and building models during the Edo, Meiji, and Showa periods constructed in a memorable way. It immediately catches one’s attention because of its distinctive architecture — modeled after an old storehouse that exhibits the kurazukuri style.
4. National Museum of Nature and Science
One of Japan’s biggest science museums can be found in Tokyo — the National Museum of Nature and Science. It has over 10,000 exhibits featuring authentic artefacts, dinosaurs, outer space elements, and the world’s latest technological advancements. The museum was built to encourage visitors to think about how the Earth, life, science, and technology relate to each other. Notable displays to be found in the museum are the Nantan meteorite that hit China in the 16th century, a fighter plane during the World War II, and a domed 360-degree 3D movie theater.
5. National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)
Another major science center of Japan is also found in Tokyo City, which is the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (also known as Miraikan). Here, visitors are able to interact with hands-on exhibitions on robotic technology, advanced science, and space science to name a few. Within the building’s five floors, you’ll come across the Special Exhibition Zone, Art Information, Lab and Robot, and other themed sections. Families traveling in groups will surely appreciate the place as the museum offers educational and fun activities.
6. Ghibli Museum
Once you’re done appreciating the history and technological advancements of Japan, don’t forget to have time for appreciating Japanese animation — one of world’s global hit. Head straight to Ghibli Museum, the museum dedicated to the world of animation and features a children’s museum, fine arts museum, and technology museum. It was designed by Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki and it reflects the designs seen in his film work. In fact, the building already feels like it’s part of the exhibitions.
When joining tours in Tokyo, make sure to visit a museum or two from the list to complete your Tokyo Tour Experience. Apart from museum-hopping, include a night tour in Tokyo’s Shinjuku, visiting temples, and having a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine in your things to do in Tokyo list.
But, to get first-hand tips and secrets about Japan’s local culture, join a free walking tour and discover Tokyo from a local’s perspective.
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Ronica is a writer who loves books and photography. She likes to discover new dishes, explore places she's never been to, and try exciting activities. She hopes to satisfy her curiosity by traveling the world.