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Tokyo National Museum and More!

Thuy FangThuy Fang
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September 30, 2023
The interior of the Tokyo Future Museum. It is a popular attraction similar to the Tokyo National Museum.

Tokyo is a bustling tourist city that attracts visitors globally due to its diverse attractions. We’re here to take you on a journey to discover hidden gem museums in Tokyo, some even unknown to locals. Our exploration includes the Tokyo National Museum, a cornerstone of Japan’s cultural heritage, and four other intriguing Tokyo museums!

Tokyo National Museum

The last worth-exploring one in this underrated museum in Tokyo must be the Tokyo National Museum, which is nestled within Ueno Park. This is considered the oldest and largest of Japan’s national museums. Established in 1872, it holds over a hundred thousand art and archeological artifacts comprising nearly a hundred national treasures and valuables. 

The outside of Tokyo National Museum.
The Tokyo National Museum is an art museum. Image via Shutterstock

The museum complex features six buildings specializing in various types of art:

  • The Honkan: The main building displays Japanese artwork from ancient times to the 19th century.
  • The Hyokeikan: The oldest building hosts temporary exhibitions showcasing Western-style architecture from the Meiji Period.
  • The Toyokan: exhibits Asian art and artifacts from countries such as China, Korea, and India.
  • The Heiseikan: Established in 1993, focuses on ancient Japanese cultures and special exhibitions.
  • The Horyuji Homotsukan: the newest addition, houses religious objects donated by the Horyuji Temple in Nara.
  • The Kuroda Memorial Hall: displays the works of Kuroda Seiki, a pioneer of modern Western-style painting in Japan.

Furthermore, visitors can also enjoy the museum’s Japanese-style garden, teahouses, shops, and cafes. It’s because the facilities here really make this museum a fascinating destination for art and culture enthusiasts.

Sumo Wrestling Museum

If you’re curious about Japan’s traditional wrestling sport, sumo, you should check out the Sumo Museum in Tokyo! It’s right near the big sumo wrestling arena called Ryogoku Kokugikan. If you stroll around Ryogoku Kokugikan during the Sumo Tournament season, you’ll likely catch a live sumo battle and see real rikishi (Sumo wrestlers). 

People gathered at the Sumo Museum in Tokyo.
The Sumo Museum is in Ryogoku. Image via Shutterstock

The museum is like a treasure chest full of stuff that tells you all about the exciting history of Sumo. It’s also a research center where many experts and Japanese culture buffs come to investigate the significance of this conventional sport in Japanese society. 

There’s only one exhibition room displaying artifacts related to this national sport. Once you step inside, you’ll be surrounded by intriguing things like old pictures, artwork, and even belts that the sumo wrestlers wear.

In addition, you’ll find a list showing the best sumo wrestlers and more than 500 models of sumo wrestlers in detailed statue form!  What’s even more incredible? This museum room also changes its exhibits six times a year, which makes every visit promise something fresh and exciting.

Tokyo Trick Art Museum

This museum, located in Odaiba, is all about having a blast with art that plays tricks on your eyes. All the wall and floor paintings here look 3D. It’s like stepping into a world of mind-boggling illusions. At the Tokyo Trick Art Museum, you can jump into these paintings and strike poses to become a character in a magical book or a famous movie.

A vampire illusion at the Tokyo Trick Art Museum.
This museum is the ultimate funhouse! Image via Trip Advisor

The museum was established and run by a well-known entertainment company called ASOBISYSTEM in 2014. It was opened because the company wanted to bring the fun of trick art to life and let everyone enjoy being part of the art. The museum keeps changing its exhibits, so you can visit them repeatedly since they’ll always surprise you.

You’ll step into different themed areas inside the Tokyo Trick Art Museum. Each one is a fantastic experience on its own.

  • The Edo period Zone: It’ll take you back to ancient Japan with ninjas, traditional matsuri float (festival float), and funny obake (Japanese monsters)
  • The Animal Zone: You can interact with animal illusions like a giant panda, cute koalas, and a ferocious tiger. 
  • The Fantasy Zone: Where you’ll dive into magical scenes from fairy tales and colorful butterflies. 
  • The Adventure Zone: You can immerse in thrilling adventures from popular stories like Jaws, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Indiana Jones.

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Railway Museum

In 2007, the train company JR East opened the Railway Museum. It’s like a playground and a perfect spot for train lovers. The museum is located in Saitama, about 45 minutes by train from Tokyo. It’s all about celebrating trains and tracks, from the old-fashioned ones in the Meiji years to the sleek and speedy ones we have today. 

A decommissioned bullet train at the Railway Museum.
The Railway Museum is in Omiya, Saitama, just outside of Tokyo. Image via Shutterstock

There are 40 real train cars that you can actually walk into, sit in, and explore freely like an adventure seeker. Additionally, you can have a happy meal at the fantastic rooftop garden of the museum while watching trains pass. 

Moreover, there’s also a special “Children’s Zone” for all the young train buffs. Here, kids can play with model trains, ride miniature trains, and even pretend to be train drivers on simulators. It’s like you’re driving a train, which is so much fun. 

Ancient Egypt Museum of Tokyo

The Ancient Egypt Museum of Tokyo is a hidden gem in the bustling Shibuya area. The museum displays numerous ancient artifacts and is uniquely positioned in Japan as the pioneer museum dedicated to Ancient Egypt.

A tablet display at the Ancient Egyptian Museum in Shibuya.
This is one of most unique museums in the city! Image via Twitter

Visitors will undoubtedly be surrounded by over a thousand treasures and artifacts from ancient Egypt, like fantastic carvings, shiny jewelry, golden masks, statues, and even real mummies. There are six genuine mummies with CT scans and videos showing their stories. 

Especially at the start of your visit, you’ll watch a brief film and receive an explorer’s flashlight for exploring the dimmer areas. These dimly lit sections indeed mimic the atmosphere of a tom, which will make you feel like you’re on a true adventure in ancient Egypt. 

To wrap up, Tokyo offers many captivating lesser-known museums waiting to be discovered. There is always something for everyone, from the Tokyo International Museum, where you can dive into the history and art of ancient Japan, to the Tokyo Trick Art Museum, where you’ll step into a world of mind-bending illusions. So, which of these underrated museums in Tokyo piques your curiosity the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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