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The museums in Japan cover a wide range of topics. You can find museums related to religion, history, geography, science, art, war, and crafts. Western-style museums were first introduced during the late Edo Period when the Bakumatsu was in power through Dutch studies. The first one to open was the Tokyo National Museum in 1872. It currently has over 2,642 works that are designated as national treasures or important cultural properties housed in its various buildings out of the 10,476 in Japan. When it was first established it was known as the Home Ministry museum and later developed into what it is today. Then in 1877, the National Science Museum of Japan (formerly Museum of Education) opened and was devoted to displaying items related to physics, chemistry, zoology, botany, and regional crafts.

Within the next few decades new museums were being built like the Nara National Museum and Kyoto National Museum. At the turn of the century there were was an expansion of private museums and the first of the group was the Okura Shukokan Museum. It was first built in 1917 and houses the collection of Okura Kihachiro. When World War II all production of museums ceased as resources were focused on combat. After the war the government was proactive in establishing art museums.

photo of Edo Tokyo Museum

Kanto | Tokyo | Northern Tokyo

Edo Tokyo Museum

Edo Tokyo Museum is located in the Ryogoku district and has a unique building design. It features the history of Tokyo during the Edo Period (1603-1868) and all the way to the Showa Period (1926-1945).

photo of Tokyo National Museum

Kanto | Tokyo | Northern Tokyo

Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum is the largest and oldest out of the top ranking national museums in Japan.

photo of Abashiri Prison Museum

Hokkaido | Abashiri

Abashiri Prison Museum

An open air museum that depicts the life of the most notorious criminals in Japan.

photo of Nebuta Warasse

Tohoku | Aomori | Aomori

Nebuta Warasse

Nebuta Wa Rasse is a museum dedicated to the history of the Nebuta Matsuri and allows visitors to see the floats all year round.

photo of Shikoku Mura

Shikoku | Kagawa | Takamatsu

Shikoku Mura

An open air museum filled with relocated cultural structures from all over Shikoku Island.

photo of Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum

Hokkaido | Biratori

Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum

Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum opened in the Nibutani area of Biratori in 1992.

photo of Boso No Mura Open Air Museum

Kanto | Chiba | Narita

Boso No Mura Open Air Museum

Boso no Mura Open Air Museum reproduces the village lifestyle of the Edo Period in the Boso Region.

photo of Hida Folk Village (Hida no Sato)

Chubu | Gifu | Takayama

Hida Folk Village (Hida no Sato)

The Hida Folk Village is a great open air museum featuring over 30 traditional houses from the Hida Region.

photo of Meiji Mura

Chubu | Aichi | Inuyama

Meiji Mura

Meiji Mura is an open-air museum with a mixture of Japanese historical buildings with western architectural influence, located in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

photo of Sengukan Museum

Kansai | Mie | Ise

Sengukan Museum

Sengukan Museum introduces and explains the Shikinensengu ritual that is held every 20 years.

photo of Osaka Museum of History

Kansai | Osaka | Osaka City

Osaka Museum of History

The Osaka Museum of History has large visual models depicting the history of the city.

photo of Bizen Osafune Sword Museum

Chugoku | Okayama | Bizen

Bizen Osafune Sword Museum

Bizen Osafune Sword Museum allows visitors to learn the ancient tradition of sword making in Japan and features a variety of sword displays.

photo of Historic Village of Hokkaido

Hokkaido | Sapporo

Historic Village of Hokkaido

An open air museum which documents the history of Hokkaido’s development.

photo of Hakone Open-Air Museum

Kanto | Kanagawa | Hakone

Hakone Open-Air Museum

Hakone Open Air Museum balances both nature and art as the works are combined with the beautiful surrounding area.

photo of Art House Project

Shikoku | Kagawa | Naoshima Island

Art House Project

A collection of abandoned structures renovated into special venues dedicated towards contemporary art in Naoshima Island, Japan

photo of Kofukuji National Treasure Museum

Kansai | Nara | Nara City

Kofukuji National Treasure Museum

The Kofukiji National Treasure Museum is located within Kofukiji Temple in Nara.

photo of Kyoto National Museum

Kansai | Kyoto | Kyoto City

Kyoto National Museum

The Kyoto National Museum is one of the four top level national museums and oldest in Japan.

photo of Tokugawa Art Museum

Chubu | Aichi | Nagoya

Tokugawa Art Museum

Tokugawa Art Museum houses cultural treasures from the Owari Tokugawa family located in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture, Japan.

photo of National Art Center Tokyo

Kanto | Tokyo | Southern Tokyo

National Art Center Tokyo

The National Art Center, Tokyo is an empty museum without permanent exhibits, collection, and curators.

photo of Nezu Museum

Kanto | Tokyo | Western Tokyo

Nezu Museum

The Nezu Museum houses pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art from the private collection of Nezu Kaichiro.

photo of National Museum of Western Art

Kanto | Tokyo | Northern Tokyo

National Museum of Western Art

The National Museum of Western Art has a collection that is mostly made of works by European Artists.

photo of Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum

Shikoku | Kagawa | Takamatsu

Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum

A former residence and workshop for the world-renowned artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi.

photo of Adachi Museum of Art

Chugoku | Shimane | Matsue

Adachi Museum of Art

Adachi Museum of Art is located in the city of Yasugi and the Zen gardens in the museum have won annually for being one of the best Japanese gardens in the country.

photo of Kubota Itchiku Art Museum

Chubu | Yamanashi | Mt Fuji

Kubota Itchiku Art Museum

The Kubota Itchiku Art Museum features the work of Kubota Itchiku who revived the lost art of Tsujigahana silk dyeing.

photo of The National Museum of Art

Kansai | Osaka | Osaka City

The National Museum of Art

The National Museum of Art (NMOA) was opened with the aim of collecting, exhibiting and studying works centered on contemporary art from home and abroad.

photo of Otsuka Museum of Art

Shikoku | Tokushima | Naruto

Otsuka Museum of Art

A unique art museum offering replica Western art masterpieces printed on special ceramic plates within one of the largest exhibition hall in Japan.

photo of Ohara Museum of Art

Chugoku | Okayama | Okayama City

Ohara Museum of Art

The Ohara Museum of Art, located in Kurashiki within Ivy Square, is the oldest museum of Western art in Japan.

photo of Japan Ukiyoe Museum

Chubu | Nagano | Matsumoto

Japan Ukiyoe Museum

The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum is a privately owned art museum and features over 100,000 wood block prints.

photo of Nara National Museum

Kansai | Nara | Nara City

Nara National Museum

Nara National Museum is one of Japans national museums mainly housing Buddhism works of art.

photo of Miho Museum

Kansai | Shiga | Koka

Miho Museum

Miho Museum was designed by the architect I.M. Pei to showcase the extensive art collection of the Shumei Family.

photo of Hokusai Museum

Chubu | Nagano | Obuse

Hokusai Museum

The Hokusai Museum is located in the center of Obuse and features a collection of works by Katsushika Hokusai.

photo of 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Chubu | Ishikawa | Kanazawa

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is a circular building displaying various works from acclaimed artists.

photo of Benesse House

Shikoku | Kagawa | Naoshima Island

Benesse House

A unique art hotel located on the southern coast of Naoshima Island designed by Ando Tadao.

photo of Chichu Art Museum

Shikoku | Kagawa | Naoshima Island

Chichu Art Museum

A unique museum featuring art viewed by the natural illumination of the surrounding environment designed by Ando Tadao.

photo of Towada Art Center

Tohoku | Aomori | Towada

Towada Art Center

The Towada Art Center is the leading hub for the “Arts Towada” project, which is meant to revitalize Towada City through art.

photo of National Museum of Modern Art

Kanto | Tokyo | Central Tokyo

National Museum of Modern Art

The National Museum of Modern Art was the first national art museum in Japan.

photo of Lee Ufan Museum

Shikoku | Kagawa | Naoshima Island

Lee Ufan Museum

The Lee Ufan Museum opened in 2010, known as one of the newer additions to the Art Island of Naoshima.

photo of Hara Museum ARC

Kanto | Gunma | Ikaho Onsen

Hara Museum ARC

Hara Museum ARC shows a large collection of contemporary art in Japan as well as from around the world.

photo of Hara Museum of Contemporary Art

Kanto | Tokyo | Southern Tokyo

Hara Museum of Contemporary Art

The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the first museums to be dedicated to modern art.

photo of Inujima Seirensho Art Museum

Chugoku | Okayama | Inujima Island

Inujima Seirensho Art Museum

Inujima Seirensho Art Museum is a former copper refinery turned art gallery with a focus on environmental sustainability.

photo of Teshima Art Museum

Shikoku | Kagawa | Teshima Island

Teshima Art Museum

The main attraction on Teshima Island infusing art, nature, and architecture forming an unique atmosphere.

photo of Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

Chubu | Aichi | Nagoya

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

Parts of the original redbrick buildings dating from the Taisho Era (around the 1910s) are preserved as an important industrial heritage and are integrated into the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.

photo of National Museum of Emerging Science

Kanto | Tokyo | Southern Tokyo

National Museum of Emerging Science

The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is located in Odaiba and offers many interactive exhibits.

photo of Toyota Kaikan Museum

Chubu | Aichi | Toyota

Toyota Kaikan Museum

The Toyota Kaikan Museum is located next to the Toyota Motor Corporation Headquarters and displays the newest products and technologies.

photo of Museum of Aeronautical Sciences

Kanto | Chiba | Narita

Museum of Aeronautical Sciences

The Museum of Aeronautical Sciences is an aviation museum located outside Narita Airport.

photo of National Science Museum

Kanto | Tokyo | Northern Tokyo

National Science Museum

The National Science Museum is located on the northeast corner of Ueno Park in Tokyo.

photo of SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

Chubu | Aichi | Nagoya

SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

The SCMAGLEV and Railway Park museum educates visitors on the latest magnetic levitating trains with displays of different train models.

photo of Nagoya City Science Museum

Chubu | Aichi | Nagoya

Nagoya City Science Museum

The Nagoya City Science Museum is known for housing one of the largest planetariums in the world.

photo of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum

Kansai | Hyogo | Kobe

Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum

The Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum is a reminder of the tragedies of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.

photo of Fukui Dinosaur Museum

Chubu | Fukui

Fukui Dinosaur Museum

The Fukui Dinosaur Museum is one of the top dinosaur museums in the world and is the largest in Japan.

photo of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Chugoku | Hiroshima | Hiroshima City

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

A museum dedicated to peace and documentation of the atomic bombing event during World War 2.

photo of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Kyushu | Nagasaki | Nagasaki

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

A museum which houses everything related to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

photo of Former Navy Underground Headquarters

Okinawa Islands | Okinawa | Naha

Former Navy Underground Headquarters

Former Navy Underground Headquarters is consists of several hundred meters of underground corridors and rooms that served as the Japanese navy's headquarters during the war.

photo of Himeyuri Peace Museum

Okinawa Islands | Okinawa | Southern Okinawa

Himeyuri Peace Museum

Dedicated towards the 240 female high school students and teachers who joined together to form a special nursing unit for the Japanese Army during World War 2.

photo of Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum

Okinawa Islands | Okinawa | Southern Okinawa

Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum

An open-air museum dedicated towards those who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.