Picturesque Museums to Check Out in Japan


Aside from its modern cities and breathtaking nature, Japan is also home to stunning museums.


If you want to capture an epic photo during your Japan trip, then you should include museums in your itinerary. Immerse yourself in beautiful artworks that shaped the Japanese art scene to what it is today. 


Here are five photogenic museums that you should check out in Japan:


1. Kadokawa Culture Museum (Saitama)



If you are a lover of books, arts, and culture, and are looking for an Instagram-worthy museum, then head to Saitama Prefecture and visit the Kadokawa Culture Museum. This museum doesn’t only have one, but five floors filled with galleries and exhibitions.


The first floor is home to a library of manga and light novels, as well as a gallery exhibition space. Meanwhile, the Kado Cafe and the museum shop are located on the second floor of the museum.


On the third floor is the EJ Anime Museum which features the rich history of Japan’s manga culture. On the fourth floor, there is a “book town” called “EDIT TOWN.” You can also find Book Street which offers 25,000 books, as well as the EDIT & ART Gallery and the ARAMATA Wunderkammer.


And finally, the most sought-after part of this museum is the eight-meter-tall “Bookshelf Theater” located on the fourth and fifth floors. The theater features more than 30,000 books of different genres and topics, most of which were donated by Kadokawa Shoten publishing founder Genyoshi Kadokawa, historians, and researchers.


Furthermore, the exterior of the Kadokawa Culture Museum is equally impressive and beautiful as its interior. Designed by the multi-award-winning Kengo Kuma and Associates, the museum’s exterior aims to create an image of a giant sediment rising to the surface.


2. The Hakone Open-Air Museum (Kanagawa)



If you are longing to find a space for that perfect Instagram shot that showcases the fusion of nature and art, then head to the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is the first outdoor art museum in Japan with a total land area of 70,000 square meters.


Located in the mountains of Hakone, you will find yourself marveling at the 120 different sculptures on this museum's grounds while being surrounded by valleys and mountains. The sculptures here were created not only by Japanese artists but also by artists from overseas, giving visitors a wide selection to explore and see. 


It is in this museum that you can find the Picasso Pavilion, which is home to about 300 works of Picasso—ranging from his sculptures to his oil paintings and to his ceramic works. 


Another highlight of the Hakone Open-Air Museum is the “Symphonic Sculpture,” a tower-shaped sculpture made of stained glass that you can climb. Atop this sculpture is a platform where you can have a bird's-eye view of the wide museum grounds.


3. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (Ishikawa)


Leandro ERLICH, "The Swimming Pool", 2004

Collection: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa


Another photogenic museum that you can visit in Japan is the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. Located in Ishikawa Prefecture, the museum has a disc-like design with walls made of glass. It is home to experimental contemporary art that will give you an immersive experience as you can touch and even sit on some of the sculptures here.


Permanent exhibits inside the museum include “The Swimming Pool” created by Leandro Erlich, which gives an illusion as if you are standing underwater. Another contemporary artwork that you can find here is “Blue Planet Sky” by James Turrell which uses light as its medium.


Aside from the permanent exhibits, there are also temporary ones that you can catch depending on the time of your visit, which feature the works of both Japanese and international artists.


4. Adachi Museum of Art (Shimane)



If you are looking for a museum where art and natural surroundings coexist in the same space, then head to Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane Prefecture.


Founded by Zenko Adachi, the museum has two floors wherein you will be able to immerse yourself in unique ways of appreciating art. 


On the first floor is where you can see a view of the 165,000-square-meter Japanese gardens. The said gardens were created by Adachi himself who believed that “the garden is also a picture." There are six gardens that you can feast your eyes on and take photos of, namely the Moss Garden, the Garden of Juryu-an, the Karesansui Garden or the Dry Landscape Garden, the Pond Garden, the White Gravel, and the Pine Garden. The scenery in each garden changes with the seasons.


The gardens in the museum have been named the best garden in Japan by the "Journal of Japanese Gardening" every year since 2003.


Meanwhile, the second floor of the museum houses various collections of Japanese art that Adachi chose himself. The collections are by different artists who contributed to the growth of modern Japanese art. There are various special exhibitions held quarterly wherein artworks are put on display based on the season.


5. Otsuka Museum of Art (Tokushima)


*This is a photo of an artwork on display at the Otsuka Museum of Art.


If you want to immerse yourself in historic and world-renowned artworks, then you must visit the Otsuka Museum of Art in Tokushima Prefecture.


Located in Naruto Park, the museum is home to more than 1,000 life-size ceramic reproductions of Western artworks by renowned artists like Michelangelo, Goya, and Picasso. The viewing route is about four kilometers long, giving visitors a chance to see many of the popular masterpieces of great artists in one museum. 


The museum is filled with murals and paintings that will leave you in awe. You can find the before and after restoration of “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, the ceiling and murals of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, and the ceiling of Giotto's Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.


Aside from the stunning artworks inside the museum, you can also enjoy great views of nature in the garden.


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