My Favorite Places in Japan: Museums

Different types of museums across the country

By Elena Lisina    - 5 min read

When traveling in Japan, I didn't pay much attention to visiting museums, because there are so many other interesting places! However, the museums I did visit were interesting and unique, and they made a significant contribution to my knowledge of the country's culture.

1. The most fantastic was the Digital Art Museum TeamLab Borderless in Tokyo. The virtual space created in the museum really is borderless and goes beyond usual perception. The "borderless" concept also extended to the possibilities of digital images, which created or destroyed space with all sorts of moving pictures. Along with the music and sounds, it was a unique sight that I think is worth seeing, at least once!

Digital Art Museum TeamLab Borderless
Digital Art Museum TeamLab Borderless

2. In Hamamatsu, known in Japan as the city where musical instruments are produced, I visited a unique Museum of Musical Instruments. The museum displays original instruments from all over the world, both modern and traditional. Near the exhibits are stands with headphones, so you can hear the sound of each instrument. The museum also hosts live music concerts.

The Museum of Musical Instruments, Hamamatsu
The Museum of Musical Instruments, Hamamatsu

3. The historical Edo-Tokyo Museum located in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo is truly grand! Inside the museum, a wooden bridge from the Edo period has been recreated, where visitors can walk to the exhibition. Along with life-size exhibits, there are very interesting scale models of Edo life scenes with hundreds of miniature figures of people engaged in everyday activities. These scenes can be viewed through special binoculars. The museum covers the long history of Edo and Tokyo up to the present day. I liked that there are a lot of interactive exhibits that you can touch and try, for example, to raise weighty buckets of water or a festive rod!

Edo-Tokyo Museum
Edo-Tokyo Museum

4. At the permanent exhibition of the Sendai City Museum, visitors can get acquainted with the history of the region dating back to ancient times. There are relics from the city and examples of samurai armor, including the famous helmet of the city's founder Date Masamune.

Sendai City Museum
Sendai City Museum

5. Several museums in the Tohoku region are dedicated to the traditional wooden Kokeshi doll, including the small but informative Kokeshi Museum at Shiroishi-Zao Station, the museum at Kokeshi-Mura masters’ village, and the Japan Kokeshi Museum in Naruko. These museum collections showcase various painting styles, demonstrate the process of making a doll, and even give painting classes.

Kokeshi Museum at Shiroishi-Zao JR Station
Kokeshi Museum at Shiroishi-Zao JR Station

6. There are hundreds or even thousands of art museums in Japan, even in the smallest towns, but I only visited two. The Sumida Hokusai Museum impressed me in a special way, especially its futuristic building! The Chihiro Art Museum dedicated to the illustrator of children's books in Azumino was really nice, and I liked the fact that the books were displayed not only behind glass cases, but also on the shelves. Children and adults could look at, read, and buy those books.

Sumida Hokusai Museum
Sumida Hokusai Museum

7. The Peace Museum in Hiroshima vividly presents a picture of the tragedy the city endured, and is something I will remember forever. Other unique museums I have encountered are the museum filled with Tanabata festival decorations in Sendai called Tanabatakan, the Udon Museum in Kyoto (although it was a restaurant, in fact), and The Photographic Art Museum in Tokyo.

Tanabatakan of Sendai
Tanabatakan of Sendai

8. The Doll Museum in Yokohama has a huge collection of traditional and modern Japanese dolls, dolls from different countries, as well as antique European dolls and toys. The museum has a nice modern design.

9. A visit to the famous animation film studio Ghibli Museum was unforgettable. An hour-long visit was like an adventure in the world of fantasy!

Ghibli Studio museum
Ghibli Studio museum

10. The open-air museum Nihon Minkaen takes visitors back several centuries, and provides the opportunity to see traditional houses complete with housewares. It’s great opportunity to see a collection of old traditional houses from all over Japan.

Nihon Minkaen
Nihon Minkaen

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: https://gurushots.com/f10384/photos Matane!

Join the discussion

Shinobu Ishikawa a month ago
Many people around me recommend the Edo Tokyo museum and TeamLab ones.
I'm eager to visit there:)
Elena Lisina Author a month ago
Yes, these are really great museums and definitely worth to visit!