1. Ghibli Museum
Studio Ghibli is often dubbed ‘Disney of the East’, having brought to a global audience animated classics such as Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away. Fans will marvel at this beautiful museum in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, which features character-themed stained glass windows, colourful plants and flowers and forest animal sculptures.
Popular character Totoro in the form of a mascot welcomes visitors at the entrance. Inside, expect to find a wonderland of characters, a theatre showing exclusive short films, a rooftop garden, a themed cafe and a bookstore. There is also a replica of the Catbus from the movie My Neighbour Totoro.
Tickets are known to be snapped up fast and can be purchased as early as the month before your intended visit.
Nearest station: Mikata (you can take a community bus to the museum from the south exit of the station for a small fee)
2. Samurai Museum
This extensive museum displays statues of brave samurai warriors, replicas of their swords and their costumes. The samurai has been a Japanese historical icon for hundreds of years. Originating from the Heian period from 794 to 1185, samurai were warriors that were hired by wealthy landowners to form their own armies. The two most powerful of these landowning clans, the Minamoto and Taira, eventually battled each other for supremacy. Minamoto Yoritomo emerged victorious and set up a new military government in 1192, led by the shogun or supreme military commander. The samurai would rule over Japan for the next 700 years.
There are combat showcases and even an area where you can wear a samurai costume and pose with a replica weapon of choice.
Nearest station: Seibu Shinjuku
3. Snoopy Museum Tokyo
Learn about Charles M. Schulz, the cartoonist who created the comic strip Peanuts that introduced Snoopy and Charlie Brown to the world. Although Schulz is American, the Japanese have embraced his world of Peanuts and showcase his work in the cutest possible way here. Visitors can view unique original cartoons from his collection, comic strips, memorabilia, and every six months, the Snoopy Museum will introduce new exhibitions curated by the Charles M. Schulz Museum in California. Cafe Blanket is an attraction in itself, with a themed menu serving treats that are almost too gorgeous to eat or drink.
Nearest station: Roppongi
SEE ALSO: 10 of the cutest dessert cafes in Tokyo
4. Museum of Yebisu Beer
Yebisu Beer is brewed and bottled in Japan and it is in this museum that you can discover the history and techniques of making beer. There is also a tasting room and a beer gift shop. We recommend signing up for the 40-minute Yebisu Tour, which includes two glasses of beer at the end. Additional glasses of beer can be purchased at a discounted rate, if you choose to hang around the tasting room.
Nearest station: Ebisu
5. Mori Art Museum
Situated in Roppongi Hills, the Mori Art Museum is a grand gallery on the 53rd floor of the Mori Tower. The museum houses modern art exhibitions in a variety of genres, including fashion, architecture, design, photography and video, with a focus on contemporary Asian art. Spectacular art aside, we love that the museum has a stunning indoor observatory and rooftop observation deck that’s open till late. It’s a beautiful place to take in the city skyline.
Nearest station: Roppongi
6. NHK Museum of Broadcasting
Japan’s broadcasting history started in 1925 and NHK is the nation’s public television and radio broadcaster. Its headquarters are located in Shibuya, where the NHK Studio Park is open to the public. The museum houses exhibits on broadcasting history, including original items used in classic Japanese TV programmes. There is an on-demand video library and a reference library, and on weekdays from 1:27pm, visitors can watch the nationwide live broadcast of talk show “Studio Park kara konnichiwa” from behind the scenes. It’s a fascinating insight into the world of Japanese TV.
Nearest station: Shibuya
7. The Railway Museum
The Railway Museum provides an insight into the history of railways in Japan and around the world. Visitors can learn about railway systems and the latest technologies (including future plans) through models, simulation, and play equipment. In addition to old train cars that belonged to steam and diesel locomotives to peruse, there are also many simulators for those who harbour dreams of being a train driver. Parts of the museum are under renovation and expansion so not all exhibits are available. Work is expected to be completed by summer 2018.
Nearest station: Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan
8. Tokyo National Museum
Ueno Park is a hub for museums and galleries and the standout attraction is the Tokyo National Museum. The gigantic space features artworks and antiquities from Japan and other Asian countries. The Honkan (Japanese) Gallery within the museum covers Japanese art from Jomon (Japanese prehistory) through to the Edo period, with rooms displaying ceramics, swords, lacquerware, sculptures and modern decorative arts. The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures is a hidden gem containing treasures donated to the Imperial Household by Horyuji Temple in 1878. Other galleries cover Asian art, Meiji-era architecture, Imperial treasures and crafts.
Nearest station: Ueno or Uguisudani
9. Sumo Museum
This small museum is located in Ryogoku Kokugikan, the stadium where professional sumo tournaments take place six times a year. The Sumo Museum has an amazing range of items relating to the history of the sport. These include nishiki-e (multi-coloured woodblock prints), sumo dolls, banzuke (official ranking lists), and kesho-mawashi (ceremonial aprons worn by rikishi, the highest ranked wrestlers). Sumo is the national sport of the country and wrestlers can often be found visiting the stadium.
Nearest station: Ryogoku
10. Edo-Tokyo Museum
Housed in a uniquely styled building in the Ryogoku district, the Edo-Tokyo Museum explores the history and culture of old Tokyo (known as the Edo period from 1603 till 1868). There is a range of original objects and replicas, miniature villages (above) and war scenes, and a life-sized Japanese village including a grand Kabuki theatre that visitors can enter. Reopening in April 2018 after a six-month renovation, this museum is a truly immersive experience.
Nearest station: Ryogoku
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM, SAMURAI MUSEUM FACEBOOK, 123RF.COM, MORI ART MUSEUM TOKYO, TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM FACEBOOK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.