Tokyo’s museum scene is comprehensive: from the history of the Edo period and samurais, to the best in animation and contemporary art, museums have Japanese culture and history covered. Here’s our guide the top museums in Tokyo.
National Museum of Tokyo
As well as being Japan’s oldest and largest museum, the National Museum of Tokyo is also the largest museum of Japanese art in the world, with a collection of more than 100,000 pieces. The museum’s five buildings are each dedicated to a separate theme, which range from samurai armor, swords, and kimonos to painting and scrolls. The museum also showcases art and artifacts from other Asian countries.
How to Visit: Visit independently or as part of an expert-led private tour. Admission to the museum is included in some multi-attraction Tokyo sightseeing passes.
Learn more about the history of Studio Ghibli—responsible for cult classics such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke—at the Ghibli Museum. Located inside Inokashira Park, visitors can browse original drawings, stills, and storyboards, and watch exclusive animation shorts. There’s also a rooftop garden, theme café, and bookstore.
How to Visit: Tickets must be booked in advance. For convenience, opt for a tour that includes round-trip transfers and a stop at Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architecture Museum.
Learn about the history of Japan’s Edo period at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Housed in a modern building, the museum showcases Edo-period replicas, models, artifacts, and dioramas. Highlights include a life-size wooden replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge, a model of Edo city, and live performances at the Nakamura Theater.
How to Visit: Visit as part of a private, custom tour of Tokyo, which saves you the stress of navigating the metro. Museum tours are available, but must be booked in advance.
Mori Art Museum
Located in the Mori Tower in Roppongi, Mori Art Museum showcases some of the biggest names in Japanese contemporary art. Unlike most museums, the Mori Art Museum doesn’t maintain a permanent collection, but instead offers an ever changing series of temporary exhibits.
How to Visit: Tickets can be booked ahead of time. Admission tickets to the museum also include access to Tokyo City Sky View, which offers panoramic city views.
Located in Shinjuku, the Samurai Museum displays authentic samurai artifacts, such as armor and weapons. Frequent tours offer deeper insight into samurai culture and history, while daily live shows showcase samurai martial arts. Visitors can also dress up in samurai outfits or kimonos for photos.
How to Visit: Prebook tickets to guarantee entry. Visitors can explore the museum on their own, or join a guided tour at the museum.