Museums you won’t want to leave

If you’re looking for art exhibits, I’m going to send you back out to the wide web to see what exhibits are in town. But if quirky & entertaining and one-of-a-kind is what you look for in a museum, these are the secret spots I go to again and again because I never fail to be entertained and discover something new.

BORDERLESS (TeamLab Digital Museum)

An astounding, immersive experience that you can’t get anywhere but in Japan. The ever-changing digital environment isn’t just gorgeous, it’s surprising, delightful, and interactive. Seriously, if you see nothing else in Tokyo, see this.

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Address: Odaiba Palette Town, 1-3-8 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Open: Every day, including holidays, closed on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays

Hours: 10:00 – 19:00; Weekends and holidays 10:00 – 21:00; Last admission is one hour before closing

Admission: Adults ¥3,200; Children (4-14) ¥1000 (under 4 are free); Disabled (with one accompanying person, must show certificate) ¥1600

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EBISU BEER MUSEUM

BeerMuseum

Satisfy your thirst for beer knowledge, then learn how to pour a perfect beer and sample Ebisu’s wares.

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Open: Six days a week, closed on Mondays, on the day after national holidays, and from December 29 – January 3. Open on other holidays.

Hours: 11:00 – 19:00 (Last entry 18:30)

Admission: Free

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EDO-TOKYO MUSEUM

6EdoTokyoMuseum

I love this museum because it explains so much about Japan in truly entertaining ways. This museum shows life in samurai times vs. how life changed after Japan opened to the West. There are incredible detailed models of cities and towns and full-scale rooms showing how people lived.

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Open: Six days a week, closed Mondays, on the day after national holidays, and from December 29 – January 3. Open other holidays.

Hours: 9:30 – 17:00 (Last entry 16:30)

Admission: Adults: ¥600, Seniors (65 & older): ¥300, College students: ¥480, High school & middle school students: ¥300, Younger children: Free. (Plus extra fee for special exhibitions.)

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EXPLORASCIENCE MUSEUM

4.Explorascience

Home of the infamous and endlessly entertaining Smile Fight, this museum is small, but has fun stuff to play with. Highlights include a “city” of sounds you can walk through, a 3D theatre (beautiful, although the productions are in Japanese only) and fun, interactive, light illusions.

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Open: Every day except closed on 2nd and 4th Tuesday, on the day after national holidays, and from December 29 – January 3. Open on other holidays.

Hours: 11:00 – 19:00 (Last entrance 18:30)

Admission: Adult: ¥500, Children (3-15): ¥300

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FUKAGAWA-EDO MUSEUM

They created an entire village inside this museum, with life-sized rooms furnished exactly the way they would have been in Edo-era times. It looks like the people who lived there just walked out one day and didn’t come back! You can go into the houses and stores, and English-speaking volunteers will answer any questions you have about daily life.

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Open: Every day except closed on 2nd & 4th Mondays, on December 28 – January 5, and the day after national holidays. Open on other holidays.

Hours: 9:30 – 17:00 (Last entry 16:30)

Admission: ¥300

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HISTORY GARAGE at Toyota Megaweb

Indulge your fantasies at this awesome collection of fast, old, rare & famous cars. It’s part of the Toyoto Megaweb showroom

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Open: Every day, 11:00 – 21:00

Admission: Free

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KUSAMA MUSEUM

Four floors of ever-changing Yayoi Kusama art, featuring plenty of the famous pumpkins

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Open: Thurs-Sun and national holidays, closed Mon-Tues-Wed

Hours: 11:00 – 17:30

Admission: Adults ¥1000, Children 6-18 ¥600

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MIRAIKAN (National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation)

4.Miraikan

This is a beautiful and super-slick science museum that showcases new technologies: robotics, nanotech, biotech and computer stuff. While the exhibits are beautifully done (and many have English explanations), they can be a bit teach-y for kids used to state-of-the-art American science museums, except for the special exhibits. They do GREAT special exhibits (like the one all about POO I saw there recently!) Check their current and future offerings here.

Open: 6 days a week, closed on Tuesdays, on the day after national holidays, and from December 29 – January 3. Open on other holidays.

Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 (Last entry 16:30)

Admission: Adults: ¥620, Children: (18 & younger): ¥210, (plus there may be extra charges for special exhibits)

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MORI ART MUSEUM

4.MoriArtMuseum

The Mori shows are always visually exciting and the curators often choose to showcase modern artists and designers who have interesting (and sometimes controversial) messages • Exhibits often explore the blurred lines between art and design and fashion • Exhibition schedule here

Open: Seven days a week, (closes early on Tuesdays), on the day after national holidays, during exhibition installation, and from December 29 – January 3. Open on other holidays.

Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 (Last entry 21:30), Tuesdays: 10:00 – 17:00 (Last entry 16:30)

Admission: Adults: ¥1500, High school & college students: ¥1000, Children (4 – Middle school): ¥500

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NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURE & SCIENCE

The evolution of all things Japanese & the REAL Hachiko

This is a great museum on the natural history of All Things Japanese, including flora, fauna, human society and the actual stuffed Hachiko dog who’s memorialized outside Shibuya Station.

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Open: Every day, except closed Mondays (but if Monday is  holiday, the museum is open on the Monday and closed on Tuesday), and also closed from 12/31-1/3

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00, open late on Fridays until 20:00

Admission: Adults: ¥620, Children (up through high school): Free

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NEZU MUSEUM

4.NezuMuseum

This is a small art museum that showcases beautifully curated exhibits, focusing on traditional Japanese arts and crafts. It also has a lovely garden (included in the price of admission) that’s especially notable for its iris display in June. Check their website for current and upcoming exhibit information.

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Open: Six days a week, closed on Mondays, on the day after national holidays, during exhibition installation, and from December 29 – January 3. Open on other holidays.

Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 (Last entry 16:30)

Admission: Adults: ¥1000, Students: ¥800 (plus extra fee for some special exhibitions)

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NIHON MINKA-EN THATCH-ROOFED HOUSES

4Minka-en

These restored thatch-roofed houses are just a short train ride from central Tokyo! The Nihon Minka-en is a great “village” of 23 thatch-roofed houses that you can go inside. The visitor center has a great explanation of how they were made, all without nails or modern tools. There’s a soba noodle restaurant in House #10 (about halfway through) that’s open for lunch.

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Open: Six days a week, closed on Mondays, on the day after national holidays, and from December 29 – January 3. Open other holidays.

Hours: Mar – Oct: 9:30 – 17:00 (Last entry 16:30); Nov – Feb: 9:30 – 16:30 (Last entry 16:00)

Admission: Adults: ¥500, Seniors (65 & older): ¥300, College & high school students: ¥300, Younger children: Free

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SENGAKU-JI TEMPLE MUSEUM

4Sengakuji

The museum at Sengakuji Temple – where the real 47 ronin are buried – not only has carved portraits of each warrior, it also has the actual signed confession and the receipt for Lord Kira’s head! Right outside the museum, you can light incense for the 47 ronin in the graveyard where they are buried, and see the well where they washed Lord Kira’s severed head.

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Open: Every day

Hours: 9:00 – 16:30 (From Oct-Mar it’s open until 16:00)

Admission: ¥500

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SHITAMACHI MUSEUM

Walk through this life-size recreation of a Meiji Era town, furnished with details of daily life in the period after Japan opened to the West (1868) but before the First World War (1912).

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Open: Every day, except closed Tuesdays

Hours: 9:30 – 16:30

Admission: ¥300

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TOBACCO & SALT MUSEUM

You have to see this fantastically amusing collection of pipes, tobacco jars, and other smoking paraphernalia from around the world, but I bet you’ll also be drawn into the interesting explanations of salt and tobacco production techniques

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Open: Every day except closed Monday

Hours: 10:00 – 18:00

Admission: Adults ¥100; Children and students ¥50

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TRICK ART MUSEUM

Forty-five life-size illusions let you take your picture being swallowed by a shark, battling ninjas, and performing other death-defying feats.

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Open: Every day

Hours: 11:00 – 21:00 (Last entry 20:30)

Admission: Adults: ¥900, Children: (4-14): ¥600, Younger children: Free

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