1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. Heaven for Museum Lovers in Ueno

Heaven for Museum Lovers in Ueno

If you'd like to inject your international travel with some culture, history, or art, then museums are a great way to check out the best of what a country has to offer. If you'll be headed to Tokyo, you would be remiss to bypass Ueno, which is a hub for all kinds of museums in the big city. Here are some of the best museums that Ueno has to offer - hopefully you'll be able to incorporate some of them into your trip.

National Museum of Western Art

What it's got

You may have guessed by the name, but this museum in Ueno is dedicated to all things Western Art. They've been around since 1959, and the galleries here feature many big name artists. Their most noteworthy piece is the famous "Water Lilies" piece by Claude Monet, but they've also got works from the likes of Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso and Pollock, amongst others.

As well as the permanent exhibitions, they have special exhibits that are on from time to time. Right now, there's a special exhibition on called Hokusai and Japonisme - which is all about how the Japanese ukiyo-e (traditional woodblock print) artist Katsushika Hokusai influenced Western artists. There are comparisons made between different pieces by artists such as Monet, Degas and Cezanne with works by Hokusai. For instance, there are comparisons drawn between Hokusai's "Hodogaya on the Tokaido" and Monet's "Poplars in the Sun". Worth a visit if you'd like a bit of a Japanese spin on your Western artwork.

Opening hours and admission costs

The National Museum of Western Art is open from 9.30am until 5.30pm. On Fridays and Saturdays these hours are extended to 9:30am until 9pm. They're closed every Monday (except if a National Holiday falls on the Monday - in which case the closure will be on the Tuesday following it) and they have a New Year's Break from December 28 to January 1 inclusive.

The adult admission for the permanent exhibitions is 500 yen. Special exhibitions have varying additional fees - it's best to check their website for details.

Where it's at

You can find the National Museum of Western Art at the map address below, and their website is here.


Shitamachi Museum

What it's got

If you want a glimpse into the way that life in Tokyo (known as Edo back in the day) was once like, the Shitamachi Museum is worth your while. The museum here was founded with the purpose of teaching people about the culture of the shitamachi - which most closely translates into English as the word "downtown". It's not quite what you'd expect if you're thinking a central business district version of downtown, though. The shitamachi was more along the lines of where the everyday common folk lived - think merchants and artisans - and comprised of Tokyo wards like the Chuo, Sumida and Taito wards (areas like today's Ginza and Asakusa). 

There are replicas at the museum of everything from merchant's houses and apartments to public baths and more. There's even a neat section where you can check out items like toys and games that would have been representative of that period in time.

Opening hours and admission costs

The museum here opens from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm, with last admissions at 4pm. They're closed Mondays - if the Monday falls on a holiday though the closure day will be the following Tuesday.  They're also closed over the New Years Period from December 29 until January 1st inclusive. General admission is 300 yen.
via www.instagram.com

Where it's at

You can find the map details for the Shitamachi Museum below.


The Ueno Royal Museum

What it's got

The Ueno Royal Museum was opened in 1972, and interestingly they have no permanent exhibits - everything on display is for a limited time only,  which means that no matter when you visit you're likely to see something new. Right now, the museum has an exhibit titled "Fear in Painting" which has been running from October 7th and goes through until December 17th. The exhibition delves into how fear is expressed in art -- in some cases, fear is depicted obviously the minute you look at a painting, but other times the fear might be more suggestive or subtle. It's an interesting take on how we interpret artworks, and will definitely get you thinking.

Opening hours and admission costs

The museum here is open from 10am until 5pm, with last entry at 4.30pm. Admission costs vary depending on the exhibition, and closure days at the museum are irregular, so it is best to double check their website for any information updates.

Where it's at

You'll find the Ueno Royal Museum on the map below. They also have a website you can find here. 

Tokyo National Museum

What it's got

The Tokyo National Museum has art and antiques from Japan and throughout Asia. There is everything here from wooden carvings to Edo period paintings, samurai swords that are in excess of 1500 years old (and even samurai armor), ancient masks and clay artifacts. The museum here has been around since 1872 and as well as being Japan's oldest national museum, it also holds the title of being the largest art museum in the country. Some of the most fascinating pieces here are all the way from the pre-Jomon period, including the first examples of polished tools - said to date all the way back to 30,000 BCE. If you're a history buff this museum will have you captivated for hours - but the sheer number of exhibits here should do that too (there's over 110,000 objects held at the museum here!).

As well as the pieces on display, the buildings themselves at the Tokyo National Museum are worth a look. There are five exhibition buildings, but architecturally my favorites are the Honkan, which is a more traditionally Japanese designed building, and the Hyokeikan, which has more Western archictectural stylings. Both of those buildings have been designated as important pieces of cultural property in Japan - definitely photo worthy! 

Opening hours and admission costs

The Tokyo National Museum opens from 9:30am until 5pm daily, with last admission at 4.30pm. They're closed on Mondays, and will have an end of year break from December 26th through to January 1st inclusive. Adult admission at the museum is 620 yen.

Where it's at

You'll find the Tokyo National Museum at the map address below. Their website link for more information is here.


National Museum of Nature and Science

What it's got

The National Museum of Nature and Science has two main galleries - the Japan Gallery and the Global Gallery. They've got everything from dinosaur fossils, marine life, and stuffed land-dwelling animals to models of Japanese and international inventions. There's also a great play area here for kids to encourage communication and play that fosters their thinking and creativity. As well as the animal side of nature, there are plenty of plant specimens on display as well - and information about how they've evolved. If you're traveling with children, this is a top one to take them to - the entire museum is very child friendly and there are plenty of families there on any given day.

Opening hours and admission costs

Adult admission to the museum is 620 yen, and high school and younger admission is free. The museum is open from 9am until 5pm, with last admission being at 4.30pm. On Fridays and Saturdays those hours are extended from 9am until 8pm (again, with last admission being half an hour before closure at 7.30pm). Like the others on the list, the museum is closed on Mondays or the following Tuesday if Monday is a holiday, and they have a New Years Break from December 28th until January 1st inclusive.

Where it's at

You can find the National Museum of Nature and Science at the map address below. Their website address is here for further information about exhibits.



Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

What it's got

The mission statement of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is centered around "becoming a place for creativity and coaction that anyone can visit freely". The museum here has special exhibitions regularly - right now they have an exhibition focused on Van Gogh and Japan, which has been running from October 24th and goes through until January 8th of 2018. Vincent Van Gogh himself had collections of ukiyo-e prints (traditional Japanese woodblock art) as well as writings on Japanese culture - and the respect seemed to go both ways, with many Japanese artists being inspired by his works, and some even taking pilgrimages to visit his final resting place. The special exhibit at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum focuses on that relationship between 40 of Van Gogh's artworks and sketches and 50 pieces by ukiyo-e artists.  There's more about the exhibition on the dedicated website here.

Opening hours and admission costs

Entry to the museum itself is free, but exhibition admission fees vary by exhibition so it's worth checking their website before you attend. The Museum Hours are from 9:30am until 5.30pm, with the last admission for the day being at 5pm. On Fridays during special exhibitons those hours are extended to 9.30am until 8pm, with last admission at 7.30pm. They're closed on every first and third Monday of the month, and have a New Year's break from December 31st until January 1st inclusive.

Where it's at

The location details for the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum are on the map below. They've also got a website  here.



Museums are a great way to add some culture and learning into your Japan trip - and there's something to be found for just about anyone's interests. Ueno is a great place to quench that thirst for knowledge with several museums in close proximity - and from there, you can go onto more exploring further afield...the Yokohama cup noodle museum, perhaps?!

Enjoy Tokyo - Happy Travels!

You might like

1|imageslim

5 Vegan Dessert Spots in Tokyo

If you're a vegan and headed to Japan, you might be wondering about eating options - particularly, where to indulge in some sweet treats. Having fr...Read more

  • favorite_border
    7 likes

Comments

Leave a comment