The Three Best Museums in Ueno Park

by Luke - TripleLights travel specialist

If you are in Tokyo, then Ueno Park should be on your list of attractions. The park itself is a great sightseeing spot, however, within the park there are three great museums. So, whether you are interested in science and nature or art and sculpture, the park has something for everyone:

National Museum of Nature and Science

The Three Best Museums in Ueno Park

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Japan is a world leader in scientific research, technology, mechanical engineering, medicine and various other fields, and has the largest number of Nobel Prize winners in Asia. The trajectory of this kingdom of science and Japanese scientific technology is seen in full detail in this museum. 

The National Museum of Nature and Science, under its theme of “humanity and nature co-existing” was established in Ueno, Tokyo in 1877, and is the country’s oldest national museum of general science displaying everything from natural history to scientific technological research. The museum has a valuable collection of over 4 million artifacts including actual samples of native Japanese flora and fauna and fossils. 

The museum is divided into 2 large sections: the Japan Gallery and the Global Gallery.  In the Japan Gallery, a wide range of fields is introduced including Japanese geography, flora & fauna native to Japan, natural history and scientific technology. Through these exhibits, you can find out about the natural features of Japan, the origins of the Japanese people and Japanese history. 

In the Global Gallery, there are plenty of exhibits that will have you thinking about the Earth from an even wider view. You can think about the evolution of living things and their relationships with the natural environment through the collection of dynamic animal models, and topics such as the dilemma of extinction are divulged with great interest through dinosaur fossil specimens. There is a lot of deep information for those with an interest in science through the exhibits of such things as space, matter and scientific technology. Think about the future from this massive collection. 

Admission: ¥ 620

Guidebook from Planetyze about National Museum of Nature and Science
Reviews from TripAdvisor about National Museum of Nature and Science
Tours of National Museum of Nature and Science

The National Museum of Western Art

The Three Best Museums in Ueno Park

This is a museum that was constructed to answer Japan’s ability to introduce Western art. It is filled with works from a personal collection centering on Impressionist paintings and the sculptures of Rodin.

The president of a private company, Kojiro Matsukata, while suffering through the tough times along with other people, traveled to Paris and ultimately understood the current conditions for being exposed to Western art. The inspiration to start a museum came from his decision to bring back many works of art to Japan. Despite the postwar complications, he made a promise with France “to keep them in safekeeping and exhibit them at a special museum of art”. The first national museum to handle Western art was born.

The main works of art are from Western Europe centering on France. Works from Russia and North America are also included depending on the era. Of particular note are the many works of Rodin due to Matsukata’s later requests for advice from Leonce Benedite who was the curator of the Musée Rodin in France. Every year for 2 days in September, there is a Fan Day which is free for visitors. Various events are planned for enjoyment at the museum. At the December “Christmas at the Museum”, concerts and works related to Christianity are explained.

The main building of the museum is a part of Le Corbusier’s architectural works included in “Le Corbusier on Architecture and Urban Planning” that the French government took to heart and proceeded with. Examples of his architecture around the world are being registered as World Heritage sites. The main building is a structure of reinforced concrete, something that was unique at the time. Also of note is the roof garden along with the windows and exhibition rooms, etc. that were designed to envisage “a museum of unlimited growth”. The architectural map is freely available in the permanent exhibition room.

Admission: ¥ 430

Guidebook from Planetyze about The National Museum of Western Art
Reviews from TripAdvisor about The National Museum of Western Art
Tours of The National Museum of Western Art

Tokyo National Museum

The Three Best Museums in Ueno Park

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Ueno Park is a place of rest for many people where they can chat on the benches while viewing the fountains as it is covered in the blossoms of cherry trees in spring and the lush greenery of summer, while boats sail in the pond. Within the park, there are many important facilities all over. Along with a theater, an art museum, a zoo and a science museum, there is the Tokyo National Museum which has a collection of cultural assets that numbers over 110,000 exhibits within a huge area. Since its launch as Japan’s first national museum in 1872, it has preserved and displayed cultural properties from Asia mainly centering on Japan. It is a museum representing the nation that has extremely valuable assets of scale and quality including 87 National Treasures and 633 Important Cultural Properties (as of March 31 2014).  

On the 1st floor of the Japanese Gallery, there are exhibits by genre of fine works of art including sculptures, metalwork, lacquerware, pottery and swords. On the 2nd floor, there is earthenware which predates Christ, collections of exhibits such as Haniwa figurines, the Buddhist art of the Asuka Era which blossomed in Nara, the Imperial Court culture of the Heian Era, the Zen Buddhism and literature during the age of the samurai, the armor of the Warring States Era, and the tools of the tea ceremony. The culture of Japan which has matured with the passage of time is displayed in an easily understood way alongside the actual artifacts.   

In addition, in the Gallery of Horyu-ji Treasures, numerous valuable assets are on display as a collection of ancient 7th and 8th century art that had been dedicated to the Imperial household from the World Heritage site of Horyu-ji Temple in Nara and then transferred to the Tokyo National Museum, so these are exhibits that cannot be missed by fans of ancient art.  

Also, at the Asian Gallery that was built in 2013, art, handicrafts and archeological artifacts from places such as China, the Korean peninsula, Southeast Asia, India and Egypt are displayed. One day is not enough to see everything there. However, even if you are not a fan of Japanese art, visiting this museum will deepen your knowledge of Japan more than ever. Get the feeling from the real thing about the culture and sense of values which matured and blossomed through the changes in the lifestyle and generations of the Japanese people.

Admission: ¥ 620 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Tokyo National Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Tokyo National Museum
Tours of Tokyo National Museum

Did you like my article?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Tokyo, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Tokyo


15 Nov 2015

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews in Tokyo

“ Yoshi introduced us to Tokyo and to Japan. My husband and I had only one full day in Tokyo and Yoshi gave us a fabulous overview of the city. ”

Excellent
7 hours ago Traveler: Becky -   Tour Guide: Yoshi

Yoshi was a great educator and explained what we were seeing in its historical and cultural context. And we had a lot of fun! We saw the spectacular new Tokyo and the charming old Tokyo. We walked the Imperial Palace gardens and toured the Meiji shrine, the Ueno Park and the Senso-ji Temple. Yoshi guided us through the subways and helped us book the bullet train to Kyoto and he even helped my h...
read more

“ A great two days spent with Akira ”

Excellent
8 hours ago Traveler: Mamta -   Tour Guide: AKIRA

We had two wonderful days in Tokyo with Akira. Akira showed us all the main sites in all the key areas of the city and we could not have seen everything we did without him. He was simply outstanding. I cannot recommend that you use the expertise of Akira whilst in Tokyo.
read more

“ Tokyo Tour Review ”

Excellent
9 hours ago Traveler: Daniel -   Tour Guide: Dai

Dai is an incrediblt knowledgable and through tour guide. Not only does he know the history of Tokyo and anything you can think of asking him about the city, but he also so well-traveled that he can answer a multitude of questions about other cultures and places as well. He will customize your day in Tokyo and take you exactly where you want to go in the most efficient order and also make sugges...
read more

“ Great Guide and Time hunting around Akihabara ”

Excellent
9 hours ago Traveler: Ashley -   Tour Guide: Koichiro

We would highly recommend Koichiro (Kim) for any of your needs for a guide in Tokyo. We did a tailored tour of Akihabara in search of music stores, used electronics & retro gaming consoles and games etc, all of which Koichiro was able to accommodate and make further recommendations on whilst all the way assisting in translating dealing with the retailers to ensure what we were buying was exactly w...
read more

“ Flexible, friendly and very informative ”

Excellent
17 hours ago Traveler: Christer -   Tour Guide: Toshihiro

We enjoyed a very interesting and informative full day tour together with Toshihiro. He was open for alternative stops/routes and made sure that we wouldn’t miss out on any of the highlights. I would definitely recommend anyone planning a first time trip to Tokyo to book a tour with Toshihiro.
read more

“ Tokyo highlights ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Bruce -   Tour Guide: Nobuko

Nobuko picked us up at our hotel and then escorted my husband and I through several key sights: Tsukiji outer market, Hamarikyu gardens, Meiji shrines, Sensoji-Temple in Asakusa, river cruise, lunch at Asakusa. All the way, she kindly explained everything about each sight and answered our many questions. She is very knowledgeable and attentive. We really loved our tour and would highly recommend ...
read more

“ Sumo wrestler training tour ”

Very Good
1 day ago Traveler: Clint -   Tour Guide: True Japan Tours

We were picked up at our hotel promptly,led through the subway system -- a day pass was already purchased for us -- given a history of sumo during the 40 min commute to the stable -- had a great 50 minute session and met a couple of the wrestlers, and were escorted back to our hotel. Guide spoke excellent English and was very professional.
read more

“ Best tour guide ever ! ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Trang -   Tour Guide: Fumiko

Fumiko went above and beyond my expectations as a tour guide she went out of her way to make sure all our questions and wants were met. Fumiko is also attentive to detail and always make sure we were happy and changed the itinerary to fit the time we have. In 2 days we managed to visit harajuku, shibuya, tokyo ward east gardens, asakusa (promptly booked an appointment for kimono experience the ver...
read more

“ Fantastic tour! ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Kristin -   Tour Guide: KAHOKO

Kahoko did a fantastic job and was very friendly. Could not imagine touring Tokyo without her help! We got to see all the sites we set out to see in one day and she was very knowledgeable in giving us information about each attraction and the area. Had a wonderful Tokyo! Thank you Kahoko!
read more

“ The market at Asakusa. ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Robert -   Tour Guide: MAYUMI

We love Mayumi. My wife and I enjoyed being with our new Japanese friend. Very friendly and knowledgeable. We would certainly recommend her to our friends that come to Tokyo. Thanks for giving us a wonderful time in the big city of yours. Robert and Trudie Sharpe. Melbourne Australia.
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started