10 Museums and Galleries You Have to Visit in Japan
Created with Cebu Pacific
Traveling to a new city can be an exhilarating experience. From sampling their cuisine to visiting famous landmarks, there’s always something new to discover. One way to explore a city is through its art and culture. Japan has a thriving art scene and there are so many museums and galleries you can visit if you’ve got a trip planned.
We’re listing down a few must-visit spaces if you’re interested in immersing yourself in Japanese art. Plus, it’s a great respite from the summer heat or sudden rain showers, too!
Mori Art Museum
Established in 2003, Mori Art Museum is located in the famous Roponggi Hills and houses world-class exhibitions of contemporary art. The collection in this museum spans all kinds of media from painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, video, and installation. Admission is pricey at ¥1,800, but your ticket gives you access to all the areas, including the Tokyo City View observation deck, where there is currently an interactive exhibition called The Science Behind Pixar. It’s also open until late, so it’s perfect for travelers who love a full itinerary.
Mori Art Museum is located on the 53F Mori Tower in Roponggi Hills 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo and is open Mondays to Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (last admission at 9:30 p.m.) except Tuesdays when they are open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (last admission at 4:30 p.m.). For more information, you may visit their website.
If you’re looking for a more traditional experience, the Edo-Tokyo Museum delves deep into the 400-year history of Edo-Tokyo. The museum itself is an architectural masterpiece General admission is ¥600 (half price for senior citizens who are over 65 years old) and gives you access to the permanent exhibitions. English guides are available (for free!) but you must request it at the Volunteer Guide Reception Center. Make sure to check out the variety shows that are scheduled during special seasons like the summer break.
Edo-Tokyo Museum is located at 1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo and is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except on Saturdays when they are open until 7:30 p.m. For more information, you may contact +81-3-3626-9974 or visit their website.
Yayoi Kusama Museum
What’s a trip to Tokyo without a visit to Yayoi Kusama? The fairly new museum is run by the Yayoi Kusama Foundation and was founded by the avant-garde artist herself in 2017. You need to plan your visit in advance though because tickets get sold out pretty fast. Tickets (¥1,000 for adults) must be purchased in advance (on the first of every month for entry to the following month) and are limited to a specific 90-minute visit. The current exhibition, “Here, Another Night Comes from Trillions of Light Years Away: Eternal Infinity” runs until the end of August before the museum closes for a month and reopens in October.
Yayoi Kusama Museum is located at 107 Bentencho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo and is open Thursdays to Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in 90-minute slots. For more information, you may visit their website.
For fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s work, a trip to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka is a must. A giant Totoro at the entrance is sure to excite any Ghibli fan. The current exhibition “Painting the Colors of Our Films” will take you into the process of what goes into the production of Studio Ghibli’s animation, particularly the original cel drawings painted by the late color designer Michiyo Yasuda. Because ticket reservations or purchases are not available at the museum, you must book your tickets in advance—think 3 months in advance. So, if you want to pay tribute, reserve your tickets now!
Ghibli Museum is located at 1 -1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except Tuesdays. It is a 15-minute walk from the south exit of JR Mitaka Station. For more information, you may visit their website.
Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda
Cup Noodles Museum
If you’re a fan of instant noodles, then a trip to the Cup Noodles Museum in Osaka is a must. Admission is free, but there are many exhibits you can visit for a fee. Check out the Instant Noodles Tunnel and look for the packaging of the year when you were born. There’s a cup noodle drama theater, where you can watch a short film about the beginnings of this go-to snack of many travelers. You can sample limited edition flavors at the Tasting Room. For young museumgoers, they can learn how to make Chicken Ramen from scratch at the Chicken Ramen Factory (¥300 for elementary school children and ¥500 for junior high school students and up). You get to take home your product, too! If you just want to customize your Cup Noodle, head to the My Cup Noodles Factory and create your own for ¥300 per cup. There are 5,460 possible combinations you can create!
Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda is located at 8-25 Masumi Town, Ikeda City, Osaka and is open daily (except Tuesdays) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is a five-minute walk from Hankyu Ikeda Station. For more information, you may visit their website or contact them at +81-72-752-3484.
National Museum of Art Osaka
This museum opened 1977 and became Japan’s fourth national museum. Originally envisioned as a space to collect, store, and publicly display works of art as well as conduct research to explain the relationship of Japanese art to that of the world, it became difficult to procure enough art to mount an exhibit. It wasn’t until a year later when part of chemist and businessman Kaichi Ohashi’s art collection was donated to the museum by his estate. The museum began to amass more pieces that they could exhibit and as of 2011, they already house some 6,019 works in the museum. Later this month, they will open 2 brand new exhibitions: Vienna on the Path to Modernism: The 150th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Austria and NMAO collection with Alberto Giacometti II.
National Museum of Art Osaka is located at 4-2-55 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka and is open daily (except Mondays and holidays) from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (until 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). For more information, you may visit their website.
Fukuoka Asian Art Museum
The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (FAAM) is home to Asian modern and contemporary art. In fact, it is the only museum in the world that collects and exhibits this type of art. You’ll notice that the art exhibited in this museum is not an imitation of Western art nor is it a copy of traditional art. Located in the heart of Hakata, it’s easily accessible by residents and tourists alike. Apart from its exhibition halls, FAAM also has an extensive reference library that has the largest collection of books—from catalogues to magazines—about Asian modern and contemporary art. You may read these books on the premises.
Fukuoka Asian Art Musuem is located on the 7F and 8F of Riverain Center Building 3-1 Shimokawabata-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City and is open daily (except Wednesdays) from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. It is above the Nakasu-Kawabata Station #6 Exit. For more information, you may visit their website.
Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum
Fukuoka is known for two traditional crafts: Hakata Ori, or woven textile, and Hakata Ningyo, or doll. At the Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum, there is a permanent exhibition on the second floor that introduces you to the evolution of these crafts from the Edo Period until its current iteration. On the first floor, you may purchase lovely products that are created with Hakata Ori and Hakata Ningyo. It is also a few steps away from Hakata Old Town, so you can make this part of your itinerary if you’re heading to Kushida Shrine.
They ask special guests—like Kabuki actors or sumo wrestlers—to leave an imprint of their hand at the gallery.
Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum is located at 6-1 Kamikawabatamachi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City and is open daily (except Wednesdays) from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is a three-minute walk from the Canal City Hakata-mae bus stop or a five-minute walk from the Gion and and Nakasu-Kawabata stations. For more information, you may visit their website.
Fukuoka City Museum
For those who want to know the history and folk cultures of Fukuoka, this is your best bet. Fukuoka City Museum’s Permanent Exhibition Room is where you can learn more about the story of the city and how it became a gateway for foreign interchange from ancient times until present day. There are 11 sections that includes The World of the Gold Seal, a national treasure the museum is known for, and an introduction to the festival that the city is famous for, Hakata Gion Yamakasa.
There is also a Feature Exhibition Room that changes every two months. Here you can learn about the customs and traditions of Fukuoka depending on the theme.
You can buy books, souvenirs, and postcards at the museum shop on the first floor.
Another area is the Special Exhibition Room that houses large-scale exhibitions such as Studio Ghibli’s Traveling Exhibit. The exhibition changes every two months as well.
Fukuoka City Museum is located at 3-1-1, Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka and is open daily (except Mondays) from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (8:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays). For more information, you may visit their website.
Fukuoka Red Brick Museum
This museum located in the Tenjin area was built in 1909. After ownership was transferred to the city of Fukuoka, it became a historical landmark that is open to the public. The first floor houses the exhibition room and a café, while the second floor is composed of several conference rooms that are available for rent for a fee. Once you’re done, make sure to head to the yatai (open-air food stalls) along Nakasu River for a post-museum bite.
The Fukuoka Red Brick Museum is located at 1-15-30, Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka and is open daily (except Mondays and holidays) from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. It’s a five-minute walk from the Tenjin Station.
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