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

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