Ueno Park in Tokyo is not just famous amongst tourists and locals for its beautiful cherry blossom spots in spring. The park is also home to some of the most important museums in Japan. Ranging from ancient history to modern technology, Ueno Park's museums offer something to satisfy many interests. All of the museums can be easily accessed by taking the JR train to Ueno Station and exiting from the park exit. From the station, Ueno Park will be a five minute walk with all the museums easily accessible from the park's main entrance. Plenty of maps and signs pointing to the different museums are available when inside the park. Below is a list of the biggest museums located inside the beautiful Ueno Park and when you can visit.
Tokyo National Museum
The Tokyo National Museum exhibits a wide collection of art, antiques and archeology from the rich history of Japan. In addition to this, parts of the collection also display items from other Asian countries such as China and Korea. The museum is a great place to get acquainted with Japan's rich traditions and comprehensive history, all organized in a clear and educational timeline. The museum's research center takes pride in its constant efforts in providing the newest research on ancient Japan. In addition to the museum’s permanent collection, special thematic exhibitions are arranged every month. To stay updated on what’s currently displaying at the museum, visit the museum's website for more info.
University students: ¥410
Free entrance for high school students, people under 18 years old and those over 70.
Free admission on “International Museum Day” and “Respect for the Aged Day”.
Tuesday-Sunday: 9:30 – 17:00
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is one of the city’s most popular museums for art, and exhibits a variety of styles. The museum's main mission, from the director's statement, is to introduce art to people. The museum does not have a permanent collection, but hosts instead curated theme exhibitions from the national and international art scenes, and from different art epochs.
The museum is also known to be very family friendly with discounted prices for families, strollers for smaller children and breastfeeding rooms for mothers. The museum has a big restaurant, a library and gift shop.
There are special discounts for families during “Family Day” every third Saturday and Sunday. A 50% discount is given for the admission of the current special exhibitions.
Every Wednesday of the month, on “Silver Day”, there is free admission to all visitors over 65 years old to the museum’s special events and exhibitions.
Tuesday-Sunday: 9:30 – 17:00
National Museum of Western Art
The Tokyo National Museum of Western Art displays paintings and sculptures predominantly from European artists, and is the most important museum in Japan showcasing Western art history. The museum displays around 5500 works of art, with the permanent collection including works from masters such as Rubens, Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso. In addition to the permanent collection, special exhibitions are also arranged (and might have different admission fees) from time to time. This is a great museum to visit if you are interested in famous painters and European art history.
Free entrance for high school students and younger, and those over the age of 65.
Free admission on the second and the fourth Saturday of each month, and November 3 (for permanent collection only).
Tuesday- Thursday and Sunday: 9:30 - 17:30
Friday -9:30 – 20:00
Saturday 9:30 – 20:00 (permanent collection)
National Museum of Nature and Science
The National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo displays the biggest collection of works and items related to natural sciences, technology and history. It's an interesting experience for both children and adults. Its permanent collection includes an exhibition of Japan's mammal and bird life, Japan's earliest settlements, geological history and the study of dinosaurs.
If you are more interested in technology, some of the exhibition rooms are dedicated displaying high tech instruments and inventions.
The museum is also child friendly with its own children's exhibition room
The museum has free entrance to those over 65 years old, and has an admission fee of ¥620 for others.
Note that most museums in Japan are closed on Mondays. If you want to spend a museum day in Ueno Park, some of them have cafes and restaurants, and some are more family and children friendly. You might also want to consider visiting during International Museum Day (May 18th) where many of Japan's museums have free entrance.