The largest museum in Japan preserves artworks and antiquities revealing Japan’s unique culture and way of life.
Tokyo National Museum houses more than 110,000 objects in areas of architecture, fine art, sculpture, calligraphy, classical books, ancient manuscripts and archaeological materials.Many artifacts are very old, including earthenware vessels from more than 12,000 years ago. The exhibits provide insight to practices and products that are uniquely Japanese, including tea ceremonies, Noh and Kabuki costumes, samurai warrior swords and armor, calligraphy, Japanese coins and mirrors, masks, lacquerware, and folding screen paintings. Stroll through the Asian gallery to see items from China, Korea and Southeast Asia as well as India and Egypt. Stone Khmer sculptures, Indonesian textiles, Chinese bronzes and jade, Indian miniatures, and Korean Buddhist statues show the richness and diversity of the art created in Asia. There is also an activities area for fortune-telling that will entertain families with children. See some of the outdoor exhibits, including large stone statues from Korea and China and gates and tiles. There is even a statue of physician Edward Jenner who developed vaccination providing immunization against smallpox. The museum was created in 1872 and moved to its current location in 1882. Much of its structure was damaged in the devastating Kanto earthquake of 1923. It was gradually rebuilt only to have further damage in World War II air raids. With the Japanese commitment to appreciation of art and history, the museum has recovered, grown and thrived.A museum visit will take several hours to several days to view the regular and special exhibits. Many of the objects included are identified as national treasures and important cultural properties. Foreign visitors will appreciate that many exhibit items have English, Chinese and Korean labels. English-speaking volunteers provide frequent gallery talks and brochures are in seven languages. The museum is open during the day from Tuesdays through Sundays, with extended opening hours on Friday evenings for special exhibitions. The museum is closed Mondays and December 24 to January 1. There is a modest entrance fee with additional charges for special exhibitions.Located in northern Tokyo’s Ueno Park, the museum is a short walk from Ueno station with subway and rail service.