10 Cool and Unique Museums in Tokyo

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Misty Fujii is a Canadian who moved to Osaka, Japan, in 2019 and married her Japanese sweetheart. In 2022, they had a baby and moved to Fukui for the clean country air. She is a DJ who teaches English part-time and writes to share Japan with the world. She gets excited about collecting vintage vinyl records, food from all countries, travelling, and renovating her traditional Japanese house.

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Tokyo, a city of endless surprises, doesn’t settle for the ordinary. It’s a treasure trove of museums, each with its own charm. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or want to dig into Japanese culture, we’ve scoured the city to unearth 10 cool and unique museums in Tokyo to add to your itinerary. Get ready for a whirlwind tour of Tokyo’s museum scene that goes way beyond the ordinary!

1. Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum, a true legend in the heart of Tokyo, stands as a haven for Japanese art enthusiasts. Here, you’ll unearth a mesmerizing blend of Japanese art spanning countless eras and cultures from Asia and Egypt. With around 3,000 captivating pieces on display at any given time, the museum keeps its exhibits fresh, rotating them every few weeks to ensure there’s always something new to discover.

But what truly sets this museum apart is its astounding collection. It has an impressive 120,000 treasures and is the unrivaled hub for Japanese art. And not only is the museum’s collection a sight to behold, but the building itself is a masterpiece. Tucked in Ueno Park, the elegant architecture boasts a rich history, once occupying the site of the Kaneji Temple and rebuilt in a stunning Japanese Imperial Crown Style after an earthquake.

2. Tokyo Mori Art Museum

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Tokyo’s art scene is vibrant, but the Mori Art Museum stands out. Located on the 53rd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, it’s a visual treat inside and out. With innovative contemporary art exhibitions featuring top Japanese and global artists, this museum offers a unique experience. What makes it special? Besides its original exhibitions, it’s known for extensive research, engaging learning programs, and late-night hours. 

But the real highlight? Its elevated location isn’t just for show; there’s an observation deck for breathtaking Tokyo views. Mori has no permanent collection and focuses on modern and contemporary Asian art. It hosts individual artist exhibitions like Aida Makoto and Ai Weiwei and captivating group shows. Dive into the world of Japanese contemporary art – visit the Mori Art Museum!

3. Tokyo Poop Museum

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Prepare for a unique adventure at The Unko (poop) Museum! It’s not your typical museum; it’s all about unleashing your inner child and creating Instagram-worthy memories. Loved by kids, teens, and anyone with a sense of fun, this museum is a playful wonderland. Instead of the expected gross-out factor, you’ll find a world of adorable kawaii surprises. 

Step inside a gigantic toilet bowl, and you’ll be greeted by pastel-hued, soft-serve ice cream-shaped poops that are surprisingly delightful. Leave logic behind, and embrace laughter, fun, and, perhaps, a fresh perspective on poop. Get ready for the unexpected and leave with a newfound appreciation for the lighter side of life – or should we say poop!

4. Ghibli Museum

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Welcome to the enchanting Ghibli Museum, the creative haven of Miyazaki Hayao’s renowned Studio Ghibli! If you’re a fan of classics like My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, you’re in for a treat. But getting Ghibli Museum tickets can be as tricky as finding Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. There are no walk-ins here; you must book in advance. 

Located in Mitaka, near central Tokyo, it’s a pilgrimage for die-hard fans. Step inside to explore animation’s magic on the first floor, including a cozy theater with exclusive Ghibli short films. Upstairs, find captivating temporary exhibitions, a cafe, a kids’ play area, a serene rooftop garden, and a gift shop. Grab your tickets early for an unforgettable journey!

5. The Sumida Hokusai Museum

Meet Hokusai, the genius behind famous artwork like ‘The Great Wave.’ The Sumida Hokusai Museum pays tribute to this ukiyo-e master. Dive into the world of this iconic artist, known for ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’ and, of course, ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’, aka The Great Wave. Immerse yourself in the AURORA exhibit, showcasing life-sized, high-resolution replicas of his works. Explore a model of Hokusai’s art studio, offering a glimpse into his world.

Discover early works depicting Edo period Tokyo. Interactive panels, videos, and art-related games with English explanations provide hours of entertainment. The museum’s striking design by award-winning architect Sejima Kazuyo features mirrored panels reflecting the sky, making it a modern gem in a traditional neighborhood.

6. Tokyo Criminal Materials Department at Meiji University Museum

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Unlock Tokyo’s Secret Crime Museum! Dive into the world of feudal Japan’s crime and punishment at Meiji University’s hidden gem. This basement museum has three captivating departments: commodities, criminal materials, and archaeology. Best of all, this little-known spot inside Meiji University offers free admission and welcomes the curious public.

Explore traditional Japanese handicrafts in the first section, showcasing pottery, indigo dye, bamboo work, washi paper, and lacquerware. But the real intrigue lies in the Criminal Materials Department, managed by the School of Law. Delve into the dark world of crime, punishment, trials, and torture. Discover the brutal procedures used in the 18th century, including crucifixion, public beheading, and more – not for the easily creeped out. Marvel at historical Western torture instruments like the iron maiden and guillotine. Thanks to the English explanations, you can unravel the gruesome details.

7. Kadokawa Musashino Museum

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Calling all bookworms! Picture a colossal meteorite-shaped treasure trove with over 50,000 books waiting for your eager eyes. Nestled in Musashino, where nature and humanity harmonize seamlessly, the Kadokawa Culture Museum (KCM) is a cultural wonderland like no other. KCM boldly defies convention, transcending the boundaries of art, literature, and natural history into one mind-bending experience. 

Step inside and immerse yourself in the Bookshelf Theater, a space enveloped by eight-meter-tall bookshelves. It doubles as a stage for mesmerizing audio-visual projection mapping events, celebrating the joy of ‘playing and interacting with books.’ Venture further to the grand gallery, home to avant-garde exhibition projects. Then, explore the Manga and Light Novel Library, which boasts one of the world’s most extensive collections of entertainment books. Don’t miss Edit Town Book Street, where you can traverse the globe through pages and ignite fresh ideas. KCM is a literary journey like no other. Get ready to lose yourself in a world of books!

8. Tokyo Kite Museum

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Hidden above a Nihonbashi restaurant, the Kite Museum is a kite wonderland. Picture entering an eccentric attic packed with colorful kites filling every nook and cranny. The director, a kite enthusiast who collects more kites than souvenirs on business trips, constantly adds to the collection, squeezing them into any available space.

Shingo Modegi, founder of the Japan Kite Association and former restaurant owner below, created this unique museum. A pilgrimage site for kite lovers, the Japan Kite Association is based here, offering exhibition insights and kite-making classes. Keep your visit short; an hour should do. If hunger strikes, head downstairs to Taimeiken Restaurant, famous for Western-style delights like steak and pasta.

9. Tokyo Trick Art Museum

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The Tokyo Trick Art Museum in Odaiba is a 3D art and visual illusion wonderland that transports you to the “Vividness of Gorgeous Edo” era. This unique museum features life-size art where you become part of the magic, perfect for lovers of quirky photos

It’s a journey through time and space, with three themed rooms whisking you away to the Edo period to escape ninjas, then immersing you in the world of Yokai spirits. The third room transforms into an absurd natural history museum, creating unforgettable photo opportunities. The visit wraps up with a room filled with classic optical illusions for more fun discoveries. Take advantage of this mind-bending experience in Tokyo!

10. Tokyo National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

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Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, is a must-visit for science buffs and forward-thinkers. Dive into a world of innovation and exploration as you uncover the secrets of our changing planet. This science mecca offers a range of enlightening experiences. Attend captivating talks and hands-on classes featuring local and international speakers to gain deeper insights into the evolving world. 

Miraikan’s three distinctive zones cover space, sustainability, the future of robotics, and the vital link between life and Earth’s environment. Don’t miss their dynamic events and temporary exhibitions happening year-round; book your tickets early for popular events. Plus, immerse yourself in the 3D wonder of the Dome Theater GAIA for an unforgettable cinematic adventure. Your future-ready journey begins here!

Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Tokyo

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are traveling in, our knowledgeable and friendly guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo, where you will have the chance to try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake along with your friendly English-speaking guide! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Shinjuku Bar Hopping Tour: Experience Tokyo’s Nightlife in Izakaya
Check out the best spots in Shinjuku while bar hopping through the lively and vibrant area. Try some delicious local food and drink as you explore the narrow yet photogenic alleys that the town has to offer. Experience Japanese izakaya culture and drink in Shinjuku like the locals!

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Happy traveling!

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