The Tokyo National Museum’s Most Unmissable Japanese Art
by Delilah Romasanta
From modern art to traditional pottery, Tokyo has plenty of wonderful art museums to delight any enthusiast. You might even be overwhelmed with what to do in Tokyo thanks to all these options. We’re here to help. For the ultimate collection of Japanese paintings, sculptures, ceramics and more, visit the Tokyo National Museum. Here’s everything you need to know about this must-see institution!
About the Tokyo National Museum
The Tokyo National Museum first opened in 1872, making it Japan’s first ever museum. Since then, it has moved twice and seen various reformations over the past 140 or so years. Today, the Tokyo National Museum collects, repairs, researches, and displays thousands of pieces that showcase the country’s beautiful and rich culture. The museum also hosts events, lectures, and symposiums throughout the year on fascinating topics.
With a collection of over 100,000 items, including 90 National Treasures and over 600 Important Cultural Properties, this museum is the largest in the country! And it comes at no surprise that the museum has information available in multiple languages, including English, Chinese, Korean, French, German, and Spanish.
The Tokyo National Museum Collection
The Tokyo National Museum’s collection is vast. In fact, it uses five separate exhibition buildings to accommodate all the works on display, not to mention those in storage! The best part is that there is something for; whether you’re interested in traditional lacquerware or Japanese arms and armor, you’ll find a bit of everything in this art museum in Tokyo. Currently on display is ‘Unkei: The Great Master of Buddhist Sculpture’. At any time, there are bout 4,000 pieces are on view, and exhibitions are rotated frequently, meaning there’ll be new things to see each time you visit!
What to See at the Tokyo National Museum
The Honkan is the main building at the Tokyo National Museum and houses a variety of Japanese works spanning the centuries. You can see everything from Buddhist statues to hand painted scrolls to Samurai armor. The first floor has rooms separated by genre, including metalworking, pottery and sculpture. The second floor is separated by theme, such as ‘Noh and Kabuki’ and ‘The Art of Tea Ceremony’. Make sure to visit the National Treasure Room on the second floor to view a national treasure piece!
How to Get to the Tokyo National Museum
This museum is a must-see in Tokyo! Luckily, you can easily reach the Tokyo National Museum on foot. From Ueno Station, on the Yamanote Line and Ginza and Hibiya Subway Lines, take the Koen Exit and walk 10 minutes. Regular admission is 620 yen for the permanent exhibition, while admission to special exhibitions is between 1000 to 1500 yen. Free admission is available to those under 18 and over 70. The museum is open from 9:30 until 17:00 and is closed on Mondays. For more information, see the Tokyo National Museum website.
Intrigued? Delighted? Questions? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Name in Japanese: 東京国立博物館 tōkyō kokuritsu hakubutsukan
Address: 13-9 Ueno Park, Taito, Tokyo
Open: 9:30am-5:00pm. More details here.
Transport: Ten-minute walk from Ueno Station, on the Yamanote Line, and Ginza and Hibiya Subway Lines.