Tokyo National Museum 東京国立博物館
An extraordinary museum chronicling Japan's past and culture
Japan's oldest museum, the Tokyo National Museum boasts an exceptional and comprehensive collection of art, artifacts and information about Japan and its cultural past.
- Exhibitions of samurai armor and weaponry
- The grounds surrounding the museum's six buildings
- Enjoying tea in one of the many teahouses, if you're lucky
How to Get There
Located in Ueno Park , Tokyo National Museum is best reached from Ueno Station. Ueno Station is on the JR Yamanote Line, four stops from Tokyo Station , and a subway stop on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya and Ginza lines.
The most extensive collection of Japanese art treasures
This is not only Japan's oldest museum, open since 1872, but it has also over 114,000 pieces, 87 of which are designated National Treasures and 633, including the main building, that are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan.
Around 4,000 of these artifacts are on display at any given time. It would take more than 20 well-timed visits to see a majority of the artifacts in its collection. But the collection is so comprehensive that no matter how little or how much you know about Japan, you'll see extraordinary things here.
All things samurai
Many parts of the museum are devoted to samurai; in particular, exhibits featuring swords and samurai armor. The collection includes spectacular pieces and artifacts used by common samurai, and the displays explain in detail how these differ from those used by the elite and ruling classes.
Inventiveness of craftsmen
Other areas of the museum are devoted to craftsmanship. Especially during the Edo period (1603-1867), a time of relative peace, traditional crafts flourished, and the museum includes fine examples of sculpture, metalworks, pottery, Japanese lacquerware (urushi) and textiles.
Areas devoted to Noh and Kabuki, the tea ceremony and Buddhism show further how craftsmanship and artisans contributed greatly to Japanese history, commerce and culture.
Stroll through the museum's extensive grounds
The museum's main building is large, but the museum complex comprises six buildings with many big enough to be considered museums in their own right. Even if you don't have time to visit each, at least take the time to walk around to see the architecture.
If you're lucky, the Japanese garden behind the main building will be open. Generally open to the public in the spring and late autumn to early winter, the garden boasts five different traditional teahouses. Some can be booked for tea ceremonies, haiku readings, and other special events.