For the hardcore history, art, and culture lovers who are coming to Japan, it is often a question of where to spend the precious limited holiday time. I prepared a list of some of the best museums that the city of Kyoto has to offer. I hope that this list gives you the knowledge and inspiration you need to make the decisions as to which museums and locations you think are the best for you to make your holiday the absolute best it can possibly be.
The city of Kyoto and the wider region of the Kansai is on the doorstep of Osaka. Osaka is the home of Kansai international airport so sees many visitors coming and going every year due to its proximity to so many incredible and popular locations. With the brilliant public transport system in Japan, most of these great locations are easy and quick to get to.
Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan that has the largest number of world heritage sites in the whole of Japan. There is also a huge selection of museums and historical attractions to explore, enjoy, or learn from. Kyoto has the locations and information, very often these historic sites are not too far away from museums where you can get the full story.
The tourist industry in Kyoto is strong because of the popularity of many historical sites. Because of this, there are also many hotels to choose from in Kyoto, most of these hotels are within a couple minutes’ walk of a great historic site so make sure to check out our other blog to find out which hotel best suits your needs.
1. KYOTO SAMURAI AND NINJA EXPERIENCE MUSEUM
The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience is a great museum tucked into a perfectly convenient location in the Kawaramachi shopping district. This museum is broken into three floors that offer the full experience of learning the history, culture, and even experiencing the Samurai and Ninja.
The first floor is the store where you can buy great souvenirs including your very own Samurai Katana. You also buy the tickets directly from this counter as well. The second floor is dedicated to the displays of the many, many artifacts as well as the huge amount of information. Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience Museum have been designed to give huge amounts of information in a way that is easy to understand for all ages.
The final floor is probably the most popular, especially for the kids. It is here on this floor where the real fun action is. On this floor, you can have a go at using the famous Ninja star (Shuriken) and blowgun (Fukiya) of the Ninja as well as dressing up in Samurai armor costumes. This experience brings all the fun of learning and experiencing all together.
The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja experience is home to a great many exhibits from all across Japan’s history. Everything from the armor and weapons of the Samurai to many of the objects and tools that would have been commonplace in Japan’s medieval eras. The exhibits and information cover all aspects of the Samurai and Ninja Lifestyle.
Whilst going through the tour of the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience Museum you get to learn about everything, from the Samurai’s ways of life, right the way through to the secrets items, weapons, and tools of the Ninja. The museum prides itself on having many genuine articles and artifacts on display for everyone to see and appreciate. Whether you are a practitioner of the arts, a history buff, or just a passing interest, it is truly inspirational to see the majestic items in such detail.
The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience Museum has a large collection of different types of armor from many ages of Japan. A large selection of the armors is from Japan’s Edo period, over three hundred years old! The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience Museum is one of the few museums where you are able to get up close and personal to see these artifacts. Many other museums have everything behind glass and are too far away to really appreciate it properly. At the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience Museum, there are no such boundaries.
Perhaps one of the most impressive displays of the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience Museum is their huge wall of swords. This display has a wide range of different styles of Japanese swords used throughout the ages of Japan. Many of these weapons also have fascinating stories of local and famous Samurai. This display is a favorite of the many collectors of Japanese swords and practitioners of Japanese martial arts, and for those who are in the market to buy a sword may have some luck here too.
The exhibits in the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience Museum are unique in their display and their collection covering all of Japanese history. So no matter your interests, be it Ninja, Samurai, history, or culture, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The museum has such a collection on display it is sure to please all who visit.
The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Experience
Address: 寺町詩の小路 2F, 292 Higashidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8043, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 11AM–6PM
2. KYOTO NATIONAL MUSEUM
Perhaps one of the most reverent and important museums in Japan, the Kyoto National Museum has stood proudly since 1895AD. The Kyoto National Museum was made during Japan’s industrial revolution as a way of showing and honoring their great history of Japan.
The Kyoto National Museum was built on the grounds of the Shichijo Imperial Estate. The museum has had many new additions constructed over the years and is now home to many great exhibitions. At the Kyoto National Museum, there are multiple special events, attractions, displays and lectures held all year round, so make sure to check out their website for a detailed list of all the events held there.
The location of the Kyoto National Museum also has a great advantage for those who enjoy visiting the famous temples and shrines of Japan. The world-famous Sanjusangendo temple is right across the road from the museum. It is this location that lends its name to the local bus stop. Sanjusangendo is famous for its collection of one thousand and one statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
KYOTO NATIONAL MUSEUM
Address: 527 Chayacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0931, Japan (map)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 9:30AM–5PM
3. MANGA MUSEUM KYOTO
The Kyoto International Manga Museum was founded in 2006. It has three floors and while walking around the Museum, you’ll find many shelves of the manga. Although there are some works translated to foreign languages, Manga mostly is in Japanese.
The Museum is aimed at the worldwide development of manga culture. That is why many foreign artists come to the Kyoto International Manga Museum to show their manga-related works.
The museum has over 300,000 manga items including both historic and foreign manga. There you can find a lot of manga materials on bookshelves. The facilities of the museum include the “Manga Expo” corner where you can find translated works by famous artists. Moreover, while walking around The Kyoto International Manga Museum, visitors are likely to see an exhibition called “What is Manga?”. It is the historic and cultural development of manga.
Also, there are many events held in the Kyoto International Manga Museum. To come and watch the spectacular performance, visit The Kyoto International Manga Museum:
MANGA MUSEUM KYOTO
Address: 452 Kinbukicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-0846, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday-Tuesday 10AM–6PM; Thursday – Sunday 10AM–6PM; Wednesday closed
4. KYOTO MUSEUMS OF TRADITIONAL CRAFTS
The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts is an absolute must-see for anyone who enjoys the many unique skills, crafts, and arts of Japan. Japan is famous for having some of the most unique and incredible crafts skills in the world, and the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts has most of these documented and on display.
The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts is located in the center of Kyoto not too far from the main shopping districts, it is very near Shijo Karasuma train station which makes access to and from the site very easy. In this area of the city, there are many bus routes that pass through the area.
The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts is truly unique in having live displays of masters of these crafts at work. There are special areas set aside for these masters to show their skills and their crafts. For those who enjoy these sorts of arts and learning how to create for yourself, this is a great way of learning these skills.
KYOTO MUSEUMS OF TRADITIONAL CRAFTS
Address: Japan, 〒606-8343 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Okazaki Seishojicho, ９丁目１ みやこめっせB1F (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–5PM
5. THE MUSEUM OF KYOTO
The Museum of Kyoto is dedicated to the history and culture of the city of Kyoto and the wider area of Kansai. The museum was originally named the Heian Museum of Ancient History, the name of the museum was changed in 1986 to its current name. The museum has only grown in size and popularity since its inception.
The displays, artifacts, and exhibits of the Museum of Kyoto span over multiple intricately decorated floors. Each floor has its own style of displays and exhibits which cover multiple subjects from not just the illustrious history of Kyoto and it’s wider effects still felt to this day. The Museum of Kyoto not only has exhibits from the limited area of the city but also has exhibits showing the wider history and culture of Japan as well as many items that have inspired and have been inspired by Japan from all over the world.
KYOTO MUSEUMS OF TRADITIONAL CRAFTS
Address: 623-1 Higashikatamachi, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8183, Japan (map)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–7PM
6. MIHO MUSEUM KYOTO
The Miho Museum was founded by one of the richest women in Japan Koyama Mihoko. The most exciting part of this Museum is its unique design. It is an essential combo of the natural ecosystems with the man-made elements. Inside of the Museum, you can find the contrast of the steel and glass with the amazing natural views.
The Museum has several exhibitions that consist of masterpieces belong to different ancient civilizations involving Roman culture, Egyptian culture, and Asian culture. All of these artworks belong to the private collection of Koyama. The main exhibit can change once a year, while special exhibits can vary every few months.
MIHO MUSEUM KYOTO
Address: 桃谷-300 Shigarakicho Tashiro, Koka, Shiga 529-1814, Japan (map)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–4PM, Monday closed
7. KYOTO MUNICIPAL MUSEUM OF ART
With a collection dating from the Meiji Era to modern-day, the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art is Japan’s second-largest art museum, and one of the most impressive art museums in Asia. You will find over 2,500 pieces dating back hundreds of years.
A visit to the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art is a fantastic way to understand Kyoto and see some beautiful creations.
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art is a beautiful art deco building that features rare marbles that can no longer be sourced. This is one of the most stunning buildings in Kyoto as it is a fusion of ancient Japanese aesthetics and modern western architecture.
KYOTO MUNICIPAL MUSEUM OF ART
Address: 124 Okazaki Enshojicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8344, Japan (map)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–6PM; Monday closed
8. KYOTO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
The National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto exhibits collections of masterpieces of the 20th century in Japan. There is a special focus made on artists in Kyoto and the Kansai area. These works include paintings of the Kyoto School.
Japanese modern art is a significant part of the Asian culture. Therefore, the National Museum of Modern Art offers a great variety of mainstream in Japanese modern art. Moreover, it covers various types of art and culture. Thus, there are five special exhibitions per year. In addition, some works on display are rotated five times per year in the Collection gallery. The Museum often organizes educational events and workshops for visitors.
It always welcomes newcomers!
KYOTO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
Address: 26-1 Okazaki Enshojicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8344, Japan (map)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 9:30AM–8PM; Monday closed
9. GEKKEIKAN SAKE MUSEUM
The national drink of Japan is sake. This very potent rice wine comes in many forms. The brewing process dates back to ancient times, with strong opinions on how the best sake should be produced.
Kyoto is home to some excellent sake bars. If you want to experience the authentic flavor of sake, a visit to Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum Kyoto is highly recommended.
We have provided a quick guide to Kyoto, and it’s rich sake history. You can learn about the best sake experiences in Kyoto HERE. The Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum is one of the leading sake experiences in Japan. Due to its location in the Fushimi region of Kyoto, the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum is considered to have access to the finest water source in Japan. That is why the world’s best sake comes from Kyoto.
You can arrive at the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum for a full tour and sake tasting experience at any time. You can get further information and book tours HERE.
GEKKEIKAN SAKE MUSEUM
Address: 247 Minamihamacho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-8043, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9:30AM–4:30PM
10. KYOTO COSTUME MUSEUM
Costume Museum in Kyoto is an example of nobility and traditional Japanese culture in the Heian period (794–1185). It shows the authentic taste of traditional fashion and unique Japanese history. It is a must-go place for those who love Japanese culture and the first novel “The Tale of Genji”. This museum shows the model mansion built on dolls creating the atmosphere of ancient times including furniture, transportation, garments, etc. This schematic overview describes the lifestyle of the Japanese a thousand years ago.
The process of reproduction of colors and other features is complicated enough. However, it shows all the details including paintings and food in a particular season. Visitors will be impressed with the world’s classical Japanese reproduction.
Moreover, you can take photos there, so welcome to enjoy the show!
KYOTO COSTUME MUSEUM
Address: Japan, 〒600-8468 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Hanayacho, 下る 井筒佐女牛ビル 5階 新 (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10AM–5PM
11. KYOTO RAKU MUSEUM
The Raku Museum was founded in 1978 by the 14th generation Kakunyû (1918-1980). It has a collection that includes ceramics of the Raku family, documents, and tea tools.
The collection is a result of 450 years of generation history. Visitors can enjoy the perfection of the techniques used in the ceramics. The Raku Museum is an important symbol of the Raku tradition and culture.
KYOTO RAKU MUSEUM
Address: 89 Aburahashizumecho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-0923, Japan (map)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–4:30PM; Monday closed
12. KYOTO SHIBORI MUSEUM
Kyoto Shibori Museum is an example of an important Japanese art of shibori dyeing. You can walk around the exhibits and try yourself at shibori dyeing.
In the Kyoto Shibori Museum, visitors can find tools and samples of shibori. Moreover, you can try shibori kimono for free and enjoy the shibori class in English.
KYOTO SHIBORI MUSEUM
Address: Japan, 〒604-8261 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Shikiamicho, 135−5 油小路通御池下る (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–5PM
13. UKIYO-E MUSEUM
If you are an art lover or you are traveling along with one, then Kyoto’s Ukiyo-E Museum absolutely cannot be missed. This museum is a real treat, having a huge collection of these famous woodblock prints on display. The Kyoto Ukiyo-e museum is only a short ten-minute walk away from Shijo station, which is on the mainline from Kyoto station.
At the Kyoto Ukiyo-e art museum, there is a huge collection of these important works of art on display. They make great use of their space to show this impressive collection. The staff at Kyoto Ukiyo-e Museum are also very knowledgeable of their subject and are more than happy to help and to talk through each of the paintings, giving great and detailed information on each of them.
Address: 2206-1 島立小柴 Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0852, Japan (map)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–5PM; Monday closed
14. HONNOJI TEMPLE MUSEUM
Almost hidden away near to the shopping district of Kawaramachi and Nishiki Market is the beautiful and historic temple of Honnoji. This grand temple is famous for many reasons, not least because of its spectacular beauty, but also because of the famous Samurai to pass through and the events taking place that would forever change Japan’s fate.
Inside the Honnoji Museum is a collection of items from Honnoji’s past. They have everything from ancient incense burners and original parts of the temple such as roof tiles, all the way through to armor and sword belonging to Oda Nobunaga and the samurai who served him. There is a small shop located at the entrance to the museum as well where you can get some nice souvenirs and help to support the museum.
HONNOJI TEMPLE MUSEUM
Address: 522 Shimohonnojimaecho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8091, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–4:30PM
15. IGA UENO NINJA MUSEUM
Hidden within beautiful mountains is the town of Iga Ueno is located just a couple of hours by train south of Kyoto. This unassuming town has had a secret for many years which has only recently come to light. This town is the ancient home of the Ninja! In fact, Iga Ueno was home to one of the largest and most famous Ninja clans in the whole of Japan. Named after the town of their origins, they are the Iga Ninja.
Inside of the museum is perhaps the most impressive display of Ninja information in Japan, being the home of the Ninja and home to the research team studying the Ninja the Iga Ueno Museum is truly at the forefront of bringing this information to the public. There are often events of special limited-time displays of information and artifacts at the Iga Useuno Museum, so there’s always something new to check out here.
IGA UENO NINJA MUSEUM
Address: 117 Uenomarunouchi, Iga, Mie 518-0873, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–5PM
Contact us : email@example.com