Tokyo National Museum – Your Guide

The Tokyo National Museum offers a visitors a riveting ride through the country's history. The main event of Ueno Park, it is not a museum to be missed.

Honkan

Photo credit : Wiiii via Wikimedia commons

The Tokyo National Museum in eastern Tokyo’s Ueno Park is the countries oldest national museum and ranks among the largest art museums in the world. With a vast collection of artefacts, archaeological finds and artwork dating back to the earliest days of humankind, it is an impressive museum and one of the city’s leading tourist draws. 

Let us be your guide. 

Tokyo National Museum Overview

The museum is home to roughly 116,000 pieces, including 87 national treasures and 634 important cultural properties. Established in 1872, only four years on from the Meiji Restoration, the museum should be seen as part of a wider unification attempt and effort to entrench Japanese national identity. Concurrently, the museum’s main focus is the history of Japan, yet inevitably a wider history of Asia is also incorporated throughout. 

The museum is broken up into a series of different galleries, each looking at a different theme or medium. Aside from the exhibitions, the museum is also home to a good range of extra facilities, including multiple restaurants and cafes, an extensive museum shop, research facilities and a large garden. 

Galleries

Honkan

Photo Credit: Ian Muttoo via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Ian Muttoo via Flickr cc

Opened in 1938 as the museum’s main gallery, Honkan is comprised of 24 large rooms spread over two floors all intended to showcase highlights from the history of Japanese art. On the first-floor visitors will find a wide array of Japanese sculpture, lacquerware, ceramics, metalwork and decorative weaponry. Paintings from throughout Japanese history are the focus of the second floor, with masterworks from every period represented. 

 

Toyokan

Toyokan

Photo credit : Wiiii via Wikimedia Commons

Built in 1968, Toyokan is dedicated to displaying artefacts and artwork from the wider Asian continent including China, Korea, India, Central and Southeast Asia. Reopened in 2013 following extensive renovations, the gallery is unbeatable for an introduction to Asian art. 

 

Heiseikan

Heiseikan

Photo credit : Wiiii via Wikimedia Commons

Built to commemorate the wedding of Japan’s Crown Prince in 1999 and renovated in 2015 to heighten the visitor experience, Heiseikan is one of the museum’s most modern galleries. The second floor is home to four special exhibition rooms and the first a fascinating collection of Japanese archaeology. Tracing the history of the country from its Palaeolithic beginnings to the Edo era, it is a comprehensive and highly informative exhibition. 

 

Hyōkeikan

Hyokeikan

Photo credit : Wiiii via Wikimedia Commons

Its name translating as ‘to express congratulations’, Hyokeikan was built in honour of the Crown Prince Taisho’s wedding and is now classed as an Important Cultural Property for its late-Meiji era Western-style architecture. Unfortunately, the exhibition space is currently closed for much-needed renovation work. 

 

The Gallery of Hōryū-ji Treasures

The-Gallery-of-Hōryū-ji-Treasures

Photo credit : Kakidai via Wikimedia Commons

The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures is home to over 300 7th and 8th-century artefacts donated to the Imperial Household by Horyuji Temple in 1878. On the second floor there is a digital archive for visitors to explore. 

 

Kuroda Memorial Hall

Kuroda-Memorial-Hall

Photo credit : 663highland via Wikimedia Commons

Built in honour of Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), a leader in Japanese painter in the European tradition, Kuroda Memorial Hall is home to a host of work by the late artist as well as works by other prominent Japanese artists. 

Museum Facilities 

Hotel Okura Yurinoki

Restaurant-Hotel-Okura-Yurinoki

Located on the first floor of the Toyokan building, Hotel Okura Yurinoki serves up traditional Japanese set meals for extremely reasonable prices. Expect plenty of miso, rice and tempura.

­ 10:30 – 17:00

­ 1F Toyokan Building

¥ 1,000 – 3,000

­ Menu

 

 

Hotel Okura Garden Terrace

Located on the first floor of the Gallery of Horyu-ji Treasures, Hotel Okura Garden Terrace serves Wester-style cuisine, again, at reasonable prices. 

­ 10:30 – 17:00 (Sun – Thu)

 10:30-18:00 (Fri – Sat)

¥ 1,000 – 3,000

­ 1F Horyu-ji Treasures Gallery

­ Menu

 

 

Café Ueshima

ueshima-coffee

Photo credit : Mario Sanchez via Wikimedia Commons

Located in the Kuroda Memorial Hall, this is the spot to pick up a quick coffee, tea or bite to eat.  

­ 7:30 – 20:00 (Mon – Fri)

 8:00 – 19:00 (weekends and holidays)

¥ < 1,000

­ Kuroda Memorial Hall

­ Menu

 

 

Tsuruya Yoshinobu

ueno-heiseikan-restaurant

Provided by Foursquare

Located in the lounge area of the Heiseikan gallery, this cafe is only open during special exhibition periods. A good range of drinks and Japanese desserts are served. 

 10:30 – 17:00 (Mon-Thu)

 10:30 – 18:00 (weekends and holidays)

¥ 500 – 1,500

­ Heiseikan Lounge 

 

 

Museum Shop

Located on the first floor of the main Honkan gallery, the large museum shop sells a wide variety of goods and souvenirs related to the museum’s collection. From stationary, postcards and t-shirts to ceramics and artwork, all price ranges are catered for. 

 

Research and Information Center

national-museum-tokyo

Photo credit : Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The Research and Information Center is a good place to delve even deeper into history. Using such sources as books, magazines and digital archives, visitors are encouraged to explore any subject that interests them, supported by the helpful staff. Entrance is free, even for those not also visiting the museum. 

 9:30 – 17:00 (Mon – Fri) 

¥ Free 

 

Gardens and Tea Pavilions

Tokyo-National-Museum-Japanese-gardens

Photo credit : Kakidai via Wikimedia Commons

The beautifully landscaped garden to the rear of the Honkan building is open to visitors throughout the spring and autumn each year. The garden is home to five historic teahouses brought to the museum from various areas of Japan. Tea ceremonies and other events are held in and around the tea houses during the on-season. 

Access and Information

­   9:30 – 17:00 (Tue – Sun)

   9:30 – 20:00 (for special exhibitions)

­ Ueno Station

 13-9 Uenokoen, Taito, Tokyo 110-8712

 
 

¥ 620 (adults)
¥ 420 (students)
¥ Free (under 18 and over 70)

­   Official Website

   English, Chinese, Korean

 Map

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# Things to Do in Tokyo # Things to Do in Ueno # Things to Do in Japan

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