Museums are everywhere to be found in Japan, regardless of the cities you plan to visit. You’ll be able to appreciate not only history or national and international art, but a wide range of themes that will give you a clearer idea about the land of the rising sun. Sometimes, unexpectedly original museums go unnoticed due to the vast offerings of good places to visit. In this new chapter of Secret Collections, we leave aside the famous Edo-Tokyo Museum, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Contemporary Art Museum. We’ve prepared a list of museums located in the city of Tokyo and its surroundings. Even if some are smaller, in not-so-popular areas or in the least touristic districts, they are absolutely worth a visit.
One Tokyo hole-in-the-wall small museum is the Kite Museum: Tako no hakubutsukan (“kite museum”) located in the regularly visited district of Nihombashi (near the metro station and subway of the same name). Over the Taimeiken restaurant and on the fifth floor of a very ordinary building, hundreds of paper and bamboo kites (traditional material for this kind of Chinese and Japanese mechanisms) decorate walls, displays and every free space that you can imagine. The colored kites, with their almost infinite variety of styles and characteristic imagery, are a good example of how serious Japanese people can be with a dedication and detail to their hobbies. Most of the kites are traditional, instead of using contemporary designs and themes. Of course, just like every other museum, you’ll also see historic summaries of the purposes of such objects. Entry costs 200 yen per person.
Anime fans may be wholly aware, but I have to mention it: the Ghibli Museum. It is totally dedicated to animation techniques and the Japanese animation studio of same name; cradle of Hayao Miyazaki’s great films. The museum is located in Mitaka, 20 minutes via urban train from Shibuya station plus a small bus trip. It opened its doors in 2011, and since then has received over 700.000 visitors each year. Admission is a little bit complicated, because you only can get in if you buy a ticket in advance. If you don’t know anybody in Japan to help you, I suggest visiting their website and read the tab labeled “tickets.” Do so with at least three months’ anticipation.
Every specific area of Ghibli museum is decorated as if it was part of one of so many movies from the studio, so fans will be transported to their favorite moments of every film. Additionally, in the micro theater located inside the facilities, you’ll be able to watch cartoons projected only here. You can brag about being one of the few people in the world who has watched such films to all your friends.
An establishment that you will enjoy visiting is the Tokyo Postal Museum. It has moved to one of the lower floors of an incomparable place that surely will be in your plans: Skytree Tokyo. Here you’ll find more than 300.000 postal stamps along with various other elements of the history of communication, with both its national and international origins. A notable detail of visiting this museum is the fact that you can actually send a letter or postcard to your family or friends; as it couldn’t be any other way, there’s an actual post office inside. In this case, the admission fee is more expensive (300 yen per person) as your visit will take longer.
In Tokyo city’s Meguro district, there’s a strange museum related to medical and scientific topics: the Parasitological Museum. Although it’s not a place you might be used to visiting, the information available is clearly exhibited, along with hundreds of samples of parasites which you’ve probably never seen before. This museum has one of the biggest libraries in the world relating to parasites, too. The admission is free although people are encouraged to leave a tip in order to keep the place going.
Now that you know where to have a good evening between odd objects, small and non-traditional works of art, and other peculiarities, you’ll be able to add these micro destinations to your trip. And of course, don’t forget about passing by the gift shop for some souvenirs in order to have a complete experience.
Tako no hakubutsukan
Address: 1-12-10 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0027
Access: Walk ten minutes from the Yaesu exit of JR Tokyo station. Alternatively, walk one minutes from exit C5 of Nihonbashi subway station.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11:00-17:00; closed Sundays and national holidays
Cost of Admission: 200 Yen
Address: 1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0013
Access: From JR Shinjuku station, take the JR Chuo line 20 minutes to JR Mitaka station. From JR Mitaka station’s south exit, use the south exit and walk 15 minutes along the Tamagawa Josui to the museum.
Alternatively, take the community bus from Mitaka station. Adults: 210 Yen/320 Yen (one-way/round-trip); Children 12 and under 110 Yen/160 Yen (one-way/round-trip).
Hours: Closed every Tuesday (except for May 1, July 24, August 14, December 25, 2018). Also closed at Year-end and for New Year’s Holidays and periodic maintenance:
Periodic Maintenance 1: May 15, 2018 through May 25, 2018
Periodic Maintenance 2: November 5, 2018 through November 16, 2018
Year-end and New Year Holidays: December 28, 2018 through January 2, 2019
Cost of Admission: Age -4: Free; Age 4-6: 100 Yen; Age 7-12: 400 Yen; Age 13-18: 700 Yen; Age 19-: 1000 Yen
Tokyo Postal Museum
Address: Tokyo SKYTREE Town Solamachi 9F, 1-1-2, Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 131-8139, Japan
Access: From Asakusa Metro Station, walk 15 minutes east to Tokyo Skytree. Alternatively, take the Tobu Skytree line from Asakusa to Oshiage station (Skytree).
Hours: 10:00 – 17:30 (last entry 17:00)
Cost of Admission: Adults: 300 Yen; Children: 150 Yen. 50 Yen discount for a group of ten or more.
Tokyo Parasitological Museum
Address: 4-1-1, Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0064
Access: From JR Meguro station, walk 20 minutes east. Otherwise, you can take any bus except for the Tokyu 09 from the west exit of the station.
Hours: 10:00-17:00; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. If there is a holiday on Monday or Tuesday, it will be closed the following day.
Cost of Admission: Free