Museums To Visit in Tokyo

Tokyo is home to some of the most captivating museums boasting exhibitions showcasing impressive architecture and interesting content. They are a perfect way to spend time to escape the summer heat or an unexpected rainy day. Here are 4 museums to check out during your next trip to Tokyo!

1. Ghibli Museum

If you’ve started your initial search for activities in Tokyo, you’ve likely already come across the Ghibli Museum. Hayao Miyazaki’s timeless and otherworldly works captured the hearts of a global audience, making the Ghibli Museum one of the most popular attractions in Tokyo today. But you certainly don’t have to be a Ghibli fanatic to appreciate and enjoy the architecture or displays within the museum. 

While photography is strictly prohibited, it adds to the sense of intimacy and ambience of the museum. And if you’re still keen on taking home exclusive shots, you can always head down to the gift shop to purchase their picture book (complete with English descriptions) which goes for ¥3,300!

For an attraction this popular, securing tickets is no easy feat. All tickets must be purchased in advance and are not sold at the museum. Tickets can be purchased through two main providers, Lawson and JTB. 

Purchasing from overseas 

If you are overseas, you can purchase your tickets through one of the JTB branches. But do note that tickets for any given month are released 3 months in advance, and are sold at a markup. You also have the option of purchasing through Lawson’s online website. Tickets for any given month are released on the 10th of the month before and are sold at the standard rate of ¥1000 (for adults). 

Purchasing within Japan 

If you’re in Japan, you can purchase your ticket through Lawson’s online website or, through a physical ローチケ (Lawson ticket machine) at any of their convenience stores. With convenience stores on practically every street in the city, finding these machines won’t be an issue. If tickets seem to be sold out, JTB offers bus tour packages for around ¥26,000. The package includes entry tickets for the Ghibli Museum, and a guided tour of other locations in Tokyo believed to have inspired the sets of various Ghibli films. 

2. Mori Art Museum

This contemporary art museum is known for its impressive collection of local and international works. Exhibits encompass anywhere from architecture to fashion. Notable world-renowned artists that have been featured include Ai Weiwei, Takashi Murakami, and Anish Kapoor.

Located on the 53rd floor of the 54-story Mori Tower, this museum is perfect if you’re looking to check multiple activities off your bucket list in one neighborhood. Better yet, the museum stays open until 10pm (except on Tuesdays), leaving you ample time to explore the Roppongi Hills area. Purchase a package for both the museum and the observatory deck, and you’ll have access to a 360º panoramic view of Tokyo city 250 meters above sea level! 

Exhibitions rotate quite frequently so do check their website beforehand. Here’s another tip, purchase your tickets in advance through their online booking site. Doing so will save you an extra ¥200, and you won’t have to worry about tickets selling out when you get there. However, if you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood and decide to make an impromptu visit to the museum, you can head over to the ticket counter on the third floor of the Mori Tower to purchase one so long as the time slots aren’t full. 

The Mori Tower can be reached in 25 minutes (by train) from Section L Hamamatsucho!

3. Sumida Hokusai Museum

Fun Fact  🌊: In July of this year, Katsushika Hokusai’s iconic ukiyo-e print The Great Wave Off Kanagawa will be incorporated into the design of the new ¥1,000 bill. 

In commemoration of this, the Sumida Hokusai Museum will hold a special exhibition exploring the origin and influence of the Great Wave. All the more reason for you to go and check out what this small but impactful museum has to offer! 

The building itself is stunning. It was designed by Kazuyo Sejima, a world-renowned Japanese architect. On the fourth floor, you’ll find a small but impressive collection of Hokusai replicas showcasing the progression of his career. Beyond the permanent exhibition, it’s always a great idea to check out the special or temporary exhibitions. These additional exhibitions make up a majority of the museum and display original Hokusai prints as well as the prints of his disciples. Other special exhibitions, just like the upcoming Great Wave exhibition, provide a detailed look into specific works by Hokusai. 

A standard adult ticket for the permanent exhibition is ¥400. The admission fees for special exhibitions are more expensive and can vary but will always include free admission into the permanent exhibition. For example, the cost of a standard ticket for the upcoming Great Wave exhibition is ¥1,500. But again, with this ticket you gain access to both the special exhibition and the permanent exhibition on the fourth floor. 

And the best part is, this museum is only 12 minutes by train from Section L Kuramae! It’s also worth mentioning that the extremely popular Edo-Tokyo museum (currently closed for renovations) is only a 5-minute walk from the Sumida Hokusai Museum. 

4. Miraikan

未来館, or Miraikan, roughly translates as Future (未来) Hall (館). It is also known as the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. The museum provides visitors with a fun and interactive way of exploring emerging technologies and their implications for the future of our society. 

In the museum, you’ll find an impressive display of the ジオ・コスモス or Geo-Cosmos, a huge installation of planet Earth. The makeshift planet uses LED panels and satellite imagery to replicate the real-time movement of clouds shifting across our planet. On the third floor, you’ll find Nanairo City. A futuristic display of life in coexistence with robots. Guests can choose between a variety of routes (all around an hour in length) to determine the storyline they follow when exploring the city. The Planetary Crisis exhibit aims to educate individuals on relevant environmental issues, the future of our planet, and the scientific research/evidence behind it.

A standard adult ticket for admission into the permanent exhibitions is ¥630. A ticket for access to both the permanent exhibitions and the dome theatre (pictured above) will be ¥940 for an adult. 

With a total of seven floors to explore, the museum is readily equipped to impress and educate all visitors!

Whether it’s diving into the rich world of Hayao Miyazaki at the Ghibli Museum, taking in the view at the top of Mori Art Museum, catching an artist wave at the Sumida Hokusai Museum, or looking beyond our planet at Miraikan, including a trip to a museum in your Tokyo itinerary will certainly be one you won’t regret!  

Want some additional guidance for your summer in Tokyo? Consider beach trips near the city and arm yourself with the finest Japanese products to beat the heat!