Kyoto being the ancient capital of Japan, 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 the 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.
Kyoto Samurai & Ninja Museum with Experience
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 has 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. At 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 armour 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 armour 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 covers all aspects of the Samurai and Ninja Life-style.
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 armour from many ages of Japan on. A large selection of the armours are 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 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 differing 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.
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 honouring 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.
To get to the Kyoto National Museum it is easiest to travel to either the closest bus stop or train station as both of these have direct lines from Kyoto station. The closest bus stop is the Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae and the closest train station is Shichijo Station. Both of these stops are only a ten minute walk away from the Kyoto National Museum, but those who are travelling with children may prefer to use a taxi service for the least hassle to get to the museum front door.
To complete the day out with some relaxation and shopping, there is also a shop and cafe on site at the Kyoto National Museum. The shop has a great collection of items that are unique to the museum, making a great souvenir or collector. They have everything from miniature reproductions of the artifacts through to art pieces and even some toys for the kids.
The one site Café has a great selection of food and drinks to enjoy whilst you relax after enjoying all the exhibitions on display. The Kyoto National Museum Café has drinks, meals and desserts, this includes their famous “Ryunosuke” coffee, incredible sweets and cakes made from Uji green Tea and the Kyoto National Museum’s highly recommended Special Fluffy sandwich made from Kyoto branded eggs.
The Kyoto National Museum’s café and store are available for visit without having to pay entrance into the museum itself. So even if you are just in the area checking out some of the other local sites, the Café and shop are both worth visiting.
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.
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 which have inspired and have been inspired by Japan from all over the world.
The first floor of the building is rebuilt to look like the old streets and town of Edo period Japan. This display truly transports you from the hustle and bustle of modern Kyoto to its ancient past. The display is an interesting and engaging way to learn about Japan’s history.
The gift shop of the Museum of Kyoto is also located on this ground floor. It perfectly fits and matches the decor and feel of this reconstruction and display. It is also a great place to pick up souvenirs to hold on to those beloved memories and to bring back as gifts for friends and family.
The other floors at the museum are reserved for temporary and special exhibitions which vary in style, artifacts, displays and demonstrations throughout the year. These exhibits vary, but may not be on all year round, make sure to check one the museum’s website to find out which exhibits match your holiday times.
Kyoto Museum of Traditional Arts and 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.
There are also huge displays of many of the items created and the tools that have been used throughout the many ages to create these incredible works of art, construction and decoration. The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts takes great care in making sure that the information, displays and artifacts show these items and their uses throughout the ages, as well as their progression throughout time all the way through to the modern age.
There is a real feel of interactivity in all of the displays and demonstrations at The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts. Being able to get close enough to touch many of the exhibits and to see the processes and techniques used and explained really help to understand Japan’s incredible and unique working crafts.
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.
The most famous story to happen here is the death of the warlord Oda Nobunaga. Oda Nobunaga is perhaps one of the most influential characters from the warring periods of Japan. It was because of the military prowess under Oda’s that he was able to rule most of Japan, unifying it for the first time in more than one hundred years.
It is during these final steps to complete the unification of Japan that Oda Nobunaga decided to stop and pray at Honnoji temple. It is during the time that he was staying at the temple that Oda would be betrayed by one of his closest attendants, Akechi Mitsuhide.
Akechi Mitsuhide had been given orders by Oda Nobunaga to take an army and quell a small rebellion to the East of Kyoto. Instead Akechi Mitsuhide would march this army back into Kyoto and would attack Honnoji temple, famously shouting “The enemy is in Honnoji!”.
It would be during the attack on Honnoji temple that it would sadly be set on fire and would burn to the ground. During the attack, Oda Nobunaga had also decided he would commit Sepuku (A ritualistic form of Samurai suicide sometimes called Hara Kiri) thus denying Akechi Mitsuhide the chance to kill Oda himself.
The temple would later be faithfully rebuilt after the fire and the event of Oda Nobunaga’s death became legend. It is this event of Oda’s death that the on-site Honnoji Museum concentrates on. The wider history of those that built and lived at Honnoji are also on display alongside many artifacts from across Kyoto’s history.
Honnoji often plays home to extra events and festivals throughout the year so keep an eye out for posters in the surrounding area. However, Honnoji does not currently have its own website, so looking for posters is the only way of finding out about these events. These posters are also printed in English to help visitors make the most out of their trip.
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 armour 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.
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 wood-block prints on display. The Kyoto Ukiyo-e museum is only a short ten minute walk away from Shijo station, which is on the main line from Kyoto station.
The art style of Ukiyo-e was originally developed during the 17th Century during Japan’s Edo Period. The Ukiyo-e style has its origins in Chinese arts, however some changes were made to give the newly created Ukiyo-e its own unique Japanese touch. This involved the carving of wooden blocks to have a mirror image of the final piece, they would carefully put paint over the wood block and then press down to transfer the paint from the embossed wood to paper. This process is repeated for each of the individual colours in the picture.
This incredible art style rose to fame over time in Japan and would also become incredibly popular world-wide very quickly. Many of the great Japanese Ukiyo-e style artists would become world-famous for their incredible works. This Japanese art style has quickly become a household name alongside the famous artists such as Katsushika Hokusai.
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.
There is also an on site store where you can buy your very own copies of these famous works of art. In the Kyoto Ukiyo-e Museum store they also have a wide selection of original genuine prints for sale at very reasonable prices, so after a relaxing visit you could leave with your very own genuine Ukiyo-e art piece.
Iga Ninja Museum
Although this place is a 2-hour drive from Kyoto it may be a good complement your visit to Smaurai & Ninja Museum in Kyoto with its castle and some ninja artifacts. 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.
The Iga Ninja were famously employed by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu to be his spies, bodyguards and even soldiers. The master of the Iga Ninja was a man named Hattori Hanzo. You’re probably thinking you have heard that name before. If you remember the blockbuster film “Kill Bill” He is the character who made the famous swords in the movie used by the main characters.
The character of Hattori Hanzo in “Kill BIll” was actually based on a character of the same name in an old Japanese TV series called “Shinobi No Mono”. This series told a dramatised version of the real life adventures of the real Ninja Hattori Hanzo. These types of historical drama are very popular in Japan and are referred to as JidaiGeki, literally meaning historical drama. The real life Hattori Hanzo was employed directly by Tokugawa Ieyasuas a spy, tactician and bodyguard.
With these links to the great and powerful Samurai of Japan’s history and cinema there is so much that Iga Ueno is a really fun and interesting castle town. The main attractions of this town are it’s castle and museum, conveniently they are both located at the same place. The castle is one of the very few in Japan that is still maintained in its original form, this means it is exactly as it was more than three hundred years ago. There is also an incredible collection of Ninja and Samurai artifacts on display here.
The Iga Ueno Museum is world famous for their detailed information and displays of genuine Ninja weapons, armour and tools. This huge collection and inside knowledge makes them one of the foremost locations for artifacts and information on how the Ninja really worked. The Iga Ueno museum has many displays and demonstrations showing how they would travel, sneak into castles, fight the Samurai and how they would communicate with other Ninja. All this information is also displayed alongside well translated and easy to understand English so nobody misses out on the learning.
To enter the museum you are first taken through a guided tour of a genuine Ninja house. This building has been home to many generations of Iga Ninja. You will be shown the many secret’s this house holds, Your Ninja guide will even display some of the Ninja’s skill and ingenuity. This guided tour is normally done in Japanese as there are many staff who can confidently speak English. Although it is pretty easy to guess what is being said from the context and displays during the tour. The English information in the museum also explains these demonstrations.
For a small extra fee at the Iga Ueno Museum there is also a great demonstration of some Ninja skills and acrobatics. This show is a must for anyone wanting to see some fun Ninja action up close and personal. It is also interactive as at points in the demonstration visitors are asked to come and have a go with some Ninja tools. Perfect for kids to have some fun, and of course for the big kids too.
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 on 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.
I mentioned earlier that the town of Iga Ueno is also home to a very special castle. This one is particularly special as it is one of the last remaining Ninja influenced castles, so it has many unique and interesting features. The entrance fee to the castle is included in the full ticket price to the Ninja house and Museum.
The Iga Ueno castle has a fascinating collection of both Ninja and Samurai armour and weapons on display as well as some great information. However, in the castle, not all of this information has been translated yet. So those who do not read Japanese may struggle to get the full experience.
Contact us : email@example.com