Japan has no shortage of brilliant museums, perfect for visitors to expand their horizons in terms of Japanese religion, science, history and art. From Tokyo to Shiga, no matter where you go on your travels there is something for everyone. We have narrowed it down for you and short-listed 5 of the best museums in Japan.
1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial
It may seem like visiting a war memorial would be an upsetting experience, yet, even those with little wartime knowledge find the Hiroshima Peace Memorial an intensely thought provoking experience that is a must if you visit Japan.
A crucial point in modern Japanese history; the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on the 6th August 1945. Due to its great historical significance, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial was designated a world heritage site in 1996. Despite being located directly under the explosion, the dome somehow avoided complete destruction and the remains still stand today.
Visitors are able to walk around the memorial whilst being shown the conditions at the time of the bombing via a wide range of displays. Such displays include an explanation of structure and destructive power of the atomic bomb, explanations of radio activity, heat rays, the blast, and damages by fire and an exhibition of victims' belongings. Even those with little wartime knowledge will be moved by certain exhibited items, such as stone steps marked with a person's shadow created by the heat rays, a scorched lunchbox and traces of black rain. Adding to the intensity of the experience, visitors are allowed to touch exhibited heat-ray damaged roof tiles which were melted and altered into a bubbly form due to the heat.
2. Ghibli Museum (Tokyo)
Japan is renowned for its animations and Ghibli's are no exception. Ghibli's animations can be recognised in hugely popular films such as Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away with these films being shown worldwide in countries such as America, France and Italy. The Ghibli Mori Art Museum offers visitors the chance to learn the principles behind how the animation is created, learn about the production landscape and view exhibits of items such as successive animation storyboards.
This family friendly museum has many exhibits for little kids to enjoy. There are exclusive short story animations as well as a model of the Neko-Bus that appears in ‘My Neighbour Totoro' which you can even sit in.
You could easily spend the day being submerged in the world of Ghibli's animations. Even if you are not an existing fan, anyone can thoroughly enjoy their day at the Ghibli museum and should definitely be on your list of things to visit in Japan!
Note: The museum is closed on a Tuesday and at Year-end for New Year's celebrations.
: Infant (4-6) = ¥100/ Child (7-12) = ¥40/ Teenager (13-18) = ¥700/ Adult (over 19) = ¥1000
3. Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum (Fukui)
Fukui is at the forefront of palaeontology research in Japan. The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama City is one of the largest and best museums in Japan for geological features and archaeology. The fun and easy to understand displays are very popular with kids and adults alike making it the ideal family day out.
This famous Japanese museum offers its visitors exciting exhibitions and experiences. These include: 42 full dinosaur skeletons fully recreated, the Dino Lab which offers the chance to touch and observe fossils through a microscope, and the Fossil Preparation Lab whereby visitors can view the fossil cleaning process. One of the main attractions to the museum is the Dinosaur Digs; at the dinosaur digs, visitors can closely observe fossilized footprints and even partake in digging up fossils.
: Adult = ¥720 /Child = ¥260
4. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (Nagoya)
Japan is renowned worldwide for its role in the car industry. The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology is preserved as the birthplace of the Toyota group as an industrial heritage.
The renowned museum is divided into two pavilions: the Textile Machinery Pavilion and the Automobile Pavilion. The Textile Pavilion informs visitors about the history of spinning various fibres throughout the world including: cotton, hemp, nylon, wool and silk. There are regular demonstrations of early spinning wheels showing how yarn was spun from cotton in this part of the museum. The Automobile Pavilion is devoted to car production. With various production lines on display, such as the classic Toyota Corolla. This museum is ideal for car enthusiasts. The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology also has a number of fun activities for children such as making model cars in the Technoland area.
Note: This museum is closed on Mondays
: Adults = ¥500/ Teenagers = ¥300/ Children = ¥200
5. Tokyo National Museum
Located within Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum has a vast collection of cultural assets equating to over 110,000 exhibits within the large museum. Such cultural assets include art works and antiques from Japan, as well as other Asian countries. If you're interested in Japanese art, check out our Japanese Art prints
. Due to its contributions to research concerning collections of books, photographs and related fine art, the museum is highly regarded by scholars. Visiting the Tokyo National Museum will help visitors to greater their understanding of Japanese culture, as the museum is home to 87 national treasures and 635 important cultural properties.
If you're wanting to enrich your understanding of Japanese culture further, a benefit of visiting the Tokyo National Museum is that it's in Ueno Park. Ueno Park is a highly cultural top spot in Japanese culture, with an abundance of exhibitions and museums within its grounds, with the Tokyo National Museum being only one!
And there you have it, 5 must-see famous museums in Japan! It's so difficult to narrow down the abundance of museums in Japan to just five; but hopefully this list has helped you on your way! Check out previous blogs
for more ideas of top things to do in Japan.