[2019 Edition] Top 20 Museums in Japan Based on Online Reviews
This ranking of museums based on online reviews includes major museums introduced in guidebooks as well as unique hidden gems! Keep reading to learn more about the most popular museums with Japanese residents. (Source: TripAdvisor(R))
- No. 20 Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka)
- No. 19 Nara National Museum (Nara, Nara)
- No. 18 Kyoto Railway Museum (Kyoto, Kyoto)
- No. 17 Edo-Tokyo Museum (Sumida, Tokyo)
- No. 16 The Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum (Kochi, Kochi)
- No. 15 Historical Village of Hokkaido (Sapporo, Hokkaido)
- No. 14 Fukuoka City Museum (Fukuoka, Fukuoka)
- No. 13 Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History (Odawara, Kanagawa)
- No. 12 Toyota Automobile Museum (Nagakute, Aichi)
- No. 11 Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum (Kakamigahara, Gifu)
- No. 10 Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum (Itoman, Okinawa)
- No. 9 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Hiroshima, Hiroshima)
- No. 8 Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (Nagoya, Aichi)
- No. 7 Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo (Izumo, Shimane)
- No. 6 Tokyo National Museum (Taito, Tokyo)
- No. 5 Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum (Katsuyama, Fukui)
- No. 4 Tachineputa no Yakata (Goshogawara, Aomori)
- No. 3 D.T. Suzuki Museum (Kanazawa, Ishikawa)
- No. 2 Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (Nagasaki, Nagasaki)
- No. 1 Chiran Peace Museum (Minamikyushu, Kagoshima)
No. 20 Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka)
This is a museum of musical instruments appropriately located in Hamamatsu City, home to world famous musical instrument manufacturers such as Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland. It has an impressive collection of 1,500 instruments, ranging from unusual ones from around the world and a historical piano collection, to antique instruments and electronic instruments. The Hands-on Room, where you can play various instruments from around the world, is fun for both kids and adults, so be sure to try it!
Admission - Permanent Exhibition: 800 JPY/adult, 400 JPY/high school student, free/junior high school students and younger
Access: 10-minute walk from JR Hamamatsu Station
No. 19 Nara National Museum (Nara, Nara)
This is a national museum with an impressive collection of Buddhist art. The Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall & Ritual Bronzes Gallery, where you can see a hundred Buddha statues from around 600 AD to 1300 AD, is a must see! It is relaxing just to see the wide variety of Buddha statues, such as ones that are standing or sitting, and even ones in the shape of animals. The Shosoin Exhibition that is held every fall is famous and attracts many visitors. This is a great museum to visit together with Todaiji, which is famous for the Great Buddha, and the great shrine of Kasuga-taisha.
Admission: 520 JPY/general admission, 260 JPY/college student, free/age 18 and younger
Access: 15-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station
No. 18 Kyoto Railway Museum (Kyoto, Kyoto)
This is a comprehensive railway museum with 53 actual railway vehicles on display. There is much for railway fans to enjoy, such as a steam locomotive ride of about 1km (300 JPY), a realistic operating simulator (by lottery), and Japan's largest diorama that is 30m wide and 10m deep.
Admission: 1,200 JPY/general admission, 1,000 JPY/university and high school student, 500 JPY/elementary and junior high school student, 200 JPY/young child (age 3 and older)
Access: 20-minute walk from Central Exit of JR Kyoto Station, 2-minute walk from Umekoji-Kyotonishi Station on the Sagano Line
No. 17 Edo-Tokyo Museum (Sumida, Tokyo)
This is a museum that shows the 400 years of Edo (former Tokyo) through models. Be sure to use the binoculars that are provided to look into the shops of the detailed models that recreate the hustle and bustle of Edo. You may feel as if you have slipped back in time. There are many spots for photographs, with the Kabuki Theater being one of the most popular. There are also multilingual volunteer guides (reservations recommended; same-day reservations available).
Admission fees: 600 JPY/general, 480 JPY/college student, 300 JPY/junior high and high school student
Access: 3-minute walk from the East Exit of Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Line
No. 16 The Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum (Kochi, Kochi)
This is a museum where you can learn about the life of Sakamoto Ryoma (1836 - 1867), a famous figure in Japanese history who was instrumental in the country's passage into a modern nation. There are exhibits of the humorous letters he wrote to friends and family (with English commentary and a Chinese pamphlet) and videos and animations that explain the complicated history in an easy-to-understand manner. There are special exhibits in addition to the permanent exhibits. He was a creative and dynamic character who pursued his dream of moving onto the world stage, but whose life was cut short by an assassin. A man full of charm, he is still beloved by many Japanese.
Admission fees (when a special exhibit is being held) 700 JPY, free/high school students and younger
Access: 25 minutes by car from Kochi Interchange
No. 15 Historical Village of Hokkaido (Sapporo, Hokkaido)
This is an open-air museum with 52 historic buildings that have been relocated from around Hokkaido and restored on its vast 134-acre grounds that are full of nature. It has a realistic town that is recreated with a post office, shops, and a government building, and is a great place to get a glimpse of the wisdom and toil of the pioneers who cultivated the freezing cold land of Hokkaido. The grounds are massive, so take the horse-drawn streetcar (250 JPY) to get around. There are free guided tours (English available, reservations required) that will help you see the museum efficiently.
Admission: 800 JPY/adult, 600 JPY/high school and university student
Access: Approx. 20 minutes on JR Hokkaido Bus from Shin Sapporo Bus Terminal North Lane
No. 14 Fukuoka City Museum (Fukuoka, Fukuoka)
The Golden Seal, a national treasure that is said to have been presented to Japan during the Han Dynasty in China (57 AD), is exhibited here. Many people visit specifically to see the Golden Seal, which appears in Japanese history textbooks. Fukuoka is close to the Korean peninsula and Eurasian continent and was the first place in Japan to come into contact with Asian culture. Learning about the people at the time when rice cultivation was introduced from the Korean peninsula and the history of Fukuoka and Hakata when they flourished may enhance your enjoyment of the sights of Fukuoka.
Admissions: 200 JPY, 150 JPY/high school and university student
Access: 15-minute walk from Nishijin Station on the municipal subway/Nishitetsu Bus Hakubutsukan Kitaguchi and Hakubutsukan Minamiguchi bus stops
No. 13 Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History (Odawara, Kanagawa)
This is a museum to learn about the earth's history and the creation of life. There is a staggering 10,000 specimens of everything from giant dinosaurs to meteors and insects. Did you know that meteors and craters hold clues to understanding the birth of earth? There are explanations about it, and you can even touch the specimens. The exhibitions are designed so that children can easily understand how life forms evolved to adapt to the earth's environment, from the ocean to land and from dinosaurs to birds and mammals.
Permanent exhibition admissions: 520 JPY/age 20 - 64, 300 JPY/age 15 - 20, 100 JPY/high school student and 65 and older, free/junior high school students and younger
3-minute walk from Iriuda Station on Hakone Tozan Railway
No. 12 Toyota Automobile Museum (Nagakute, Aichi)
This is a museum of the automobile manufacturer Toyota. There are approximately 140 vehicles on display that show the 130-year history from the time gasoline-powered automobiles were invented. A replica of Toyoda Model AA, the first production passenger car by Toyota, is on display in the Symbol Zone. There are also classic cars, such as Cadillacs, and vehicles by other manufacturers such as Nissan and Mitsubishi. Amazingly, almost all the cars on display are in operating order - a testament to this car manufacturer's love of cars.
Admission: 1,000 JPY/adult, 600 JPY/junior high and high school student, 400 JPY/elementary school student, 500 JPY/age 65 and older
Access: 5-minute walk from Tobu Kyuryo Line (Linimo) Geidai-dori Station or Meitetsu Bus Toyota Automobile Museum bus stop
No. 11 Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum (Kakamigahara, Gifu)
This is one of Japan's largest air and space museums. The indoor and outdoor exhibition space has a total of 43 aircraft, including 37 actual aircraft and six life-size models. Many aviation fans visit for the opportunity to see a faithfully recreated model of the world's first aircraft, fighter jets, and rockets up close. The simulator of a small jet aircraft and helicopter flying experience is also popular. The museum is crowded on the weekends, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time when visiting.
Admissions: 800 JPY/adult, 500 JPY/high school student and age 60 and over, free/junior high school students and younger
Access: Meitetsu Kakamigahara Line Kakamigahara Shiyakushomae Station / Fureai Bus (5) Inaha Line, (7) Kawashima Line Air and Space Museum
No. 10 Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum (Itoman, Okinawa)
This is a museum within the grounds of Peace Memorial Park that exhibits photographs and items left by the deceased from the Battle of Okinawa. There is a permanent exhibition of the Battle of Okinawa and post-war reconstruction as seen from the residents that present a stark contrast to the beauty and calm of the ocean and park. At the end of your visit, stop in the Corridor of Ocean and Foundation with floor-to-ceiling windows and a stunning view of the ocean.
Admission - Permanent Exhibition: 300 JPY/adult, 150 JPY/child
Access: Heiwa-kinendo Iriguchi bus stop (the bus does not run frequently so taxi or rental car is recommended)
No. 9 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Hiroshima, Hiroshima)
This is a museum that exhibits items left by those who died from the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, as well as testimonies of survivors and other related material. The first photograph you see when you enter the museum is of Hiroshima before the bomb was dropped - and the second photograph, after it was dropped. The city has transformed completely in the blink of an eye. Although there are numerous items, such as a lunch box that burned black and a wristwatch with the time stopped at the blast, commentary is left to a minimum and the displays feature diaries, letters, and notes written by survivors. In 2016, Obama, who was then president of the United States, visited.
Admission: 200 JPY/adult (college student and older), 100 JPY/high school student, free/junior high school students and younger
Access: By Heiwa Kinen Koen bus stop / 10-minute walk from Genbaku Dome Mae streetcar stop
No. 8 Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (Nagoya, Aichi)
This is a museum built in the city that the Toyota Group was founded in. It consists of a Textile Machinery Pavilion and Automobile Pavilion where you can experience Toyota's manufacturing through live demonstrations of real machinery. Experiences for children (elementary and junior high school students) to make straps and cars using parts they press themselves and Technoland, with original playground equipment that adopts mechanisms of textile machinery and cars, are also fun. This is a museum you will want to allocate a full day to.
Admission: 500 JPY/adult, 300 JPY/junior high and high school student, 200 JPY/elementary school student
Access: 3-minute walk from Sako Station on Nagoya Main Line
No. 7 Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo (Izumo, Shimane)
This is a museum next to Izumo Grand Shrine. The secret of Izumo Grand Shrine, which is said to have been a massive ancient shrine, and the lives of people who lived there are presented through model replicas and other material. In particular, the area where the 358 shining bronze swords (replicas) that were unearthed and 39 bell-shaped bronze ceremonial implements are displayed is stunning.
Admission: 620 JPY/adult, 410 JPY/university student, 200 JPY/elementary, junior high, high school student
Access: 7-minute walk from Ichibata Electric Railway Izumo Taisha-mae Station / Ichibata Bus, Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo bus stop
*Closed November 18, 2019 - April 23, 2020 due to renovations
No. 6 Tokyo National Museum (Taito, Tokyo)
This is Japan's oldest museum and is located in Ueno Park. At any given time, approximately 3,000 items from its collection of 110,000, including 89 national treasures, are exhibited in its six buildings. The Honkan (main building) exhibits primarily Japanese cultural properties such as kabuki costumes, swords, and Buddhist art. Rent an audio guide (500 JPY, available in English, Chinese and Korean) in the Main Gate Plaza to enjoy the museum more.
Admission: 620 JPY/adult, 410 JPY/university student
Access: 10-minute walk from the Koenguchi Exit of JR Ueno Station / 15-minute walk from Ueno Station on Tokyo Metro Ginza and Hibiya lines
No. 5 Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum (Katsuyama, Fukui)
This is a museum of geology and paleontology centered on dinosaurs and is said to be one of the three great dinosaur museums of the world. At this museum, you will be wowed by the 44 dinosaur skeletons, more than 1,000 specimens, and giant diorama. Creatures other than dinosaurs are also recreated in detail, so be sure to take a look at them! There are tours of the Dinosaur Discovery Site (1,220 JPY/adult, reservations recommended) during specific times of the year (late April - November), which is a great way to see excavation sites up close. It is a popular tour that more than 40,000 people participate in yearly.
Museum admission fees: 730 JPY/adult, 420 JPY/high school and university student, 260 JPY/elementary and junior high school student
Access: Take a bus from Echizen Railway Katsuyama Station. Near Hakubutsukan Mae bus stop.
No. 4 Tachineputa no Yakata (Goshogawara, Aomori)
This is a museum where you can see a tachineputa, the giant neputa festival float which usually can only been seen during the Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival that is held five days a year (August 4 - 8). The massive tachineputa is 23m-high and 19 tons in weight and has a staggeringly powerful presence. You can see it on a slope that starts at the fourth floor, so be sure to take a good look at the beautiful decorations from top to bottom. Imagine 18 such neputa floats being carried around the town and you will surely want to go to the actual festival!
Admission to tachineputa exhibition room: 600 JPY/adult, 450 JPY/high school student, 250 JPY/elementary and junior high school student
Access: 5-minute walk from Goshogawara Station on the JR Ou Main Line Gono Line
No. 3 D.T. Suzuki Museum (Kanazawa, Ishikawa)
This is a place to learn about the life and thoughts of D.T. Suzuki, the Buddhist philosopher who was instrumental in spreading the philosophy of Zen from Japan to the world. The museum exhibits photographs, writings, and other material from which you will be able to see his activities. Unlike other museums, it has a Contemplative Space beyond a corridor for visitors to sit and contemplate. There is also a Water Mirror Garden which calms the mind when you gaze at it. This is a museum where you can attain a feeling of calm and peace.
Admission: 310 JPY/adult, 210 JPY/age 65 and older, free/high school students and younger
Access: 4-minute walk from Hondamachi bus stop on Hokutetsu Bus and Jokamachi Kanazawa Excursion Bus
No. 2 Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (Nagasaki, Nagasaki)
This is a museum that shows the historic background that lead to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, just three days after Hiroshima. It has a realistic depiction of the devastating damage and misery caused by the atomic bomb and also tells the story of the history of nuclear weapons development. When you compare the photographs of the city today and immediately after the bomb, you cannot help but be moved by the resolution of the people who restored the city so quickly. The museum represents a powerful message to "make Nagasaki the last city devastated by an atomic bomb".
Admission: 200 JPY/adult, 100 JPY/elementary, junior high, and high school student
Access: 5-minute walk from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum streetcar stop and Nagasaki Kanko Route Bus
No. 1 Chiran Peace Museum (Minamikyushu, Kagoshima)
This museum exhibits material related to the Imperial Japanese Army Flying Corps Tokko that was created at the end of the Second World War. "Tokko" refers to suicide attacks of planes carrying bombs that were to crash into enemy ships. The museum exhibits portraits and belongings of the young men who were never to return that the first curator collected. It tells the story of the reality from nearly 70 years ago as a means of praying for peace.
Admission: 500 JPY/adult, 300 JPY/elementary and junior high student
Access: Approx. 80 minutes by bus from JR Kagoshima-chuo Station to Tokko Kannon Iriguchi bus stop.
This was a 2019 ranking of the most popular museums in Japan. It slightly differs from guidebooks, as it's based on information from TripAdvisor, which lists up-to-date reviews by real travelers. Was there one you'd like to go to? Hopefully this article has helped you to find a new discovery!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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