Nara National Museum: A Treasure Trove of Japan's Leading Buddhist Art

The Nara National Museum, located in the corner of Nara Park, is a museum that exhibits national treasures and important cultural properties. It houses and displays many Buddhist artworks of the East, including Japan.

About Nara National Museum

The Nara National Museum opened in 1895 and is the second oldest National Museum in Japan. The gallery is composed of permanent exhibitions and special exhibitions, and exhibits various Buddhist artworks such as books, sculptures and paintings. In addition, the "Buddhist Art Research Center" in the museum, is a facility that stores and publishes research materials relating to Buddhist art, and is characterized by its modern Japanese-style architecture.

Highlights and Things to do at the Nara National Museum

The gallery of the Nara National Museum is divided into two major buildings: "The Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall, Ritual Bronzes Gallery" and "The new Wings". There is also a museum shop and a restaurant in the underground corridor connecting the buildings, allowing you to eat as well as shop. Here are the highlights of each gallery.

The Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall, Ritual Bronzes Gallery

Nara National Museum: A Treasure Trove of Japan's Leading Buddhist Art

First of all, there are about 100 Buddha statues, including national treasures and important cultural properties, exhibited in "The Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall". There are Buddha statues both standing and sitting, and there are various types from small sized statues to tall statues at around the height of a person. This is the only place in Japan where you can admire so many Buddha statues in one place.

In addition, you can admire the many ancient Chinese bronze artifacts at “Ritual Bronzes Gallery”, which is connected to "The Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall" by a corridor. Most of them are bronze containers and instruments, and there are a total of about 380 collections of weapons, harnesses and agricultural tools.

The new Wings

Nara National Museum: A Treasure Trove of Japan's Leading Buddhist Art

The new wings are mainly used as venues for special exhibitions. There are various exhibitions throughout the year, and “Shōsō-in Treasures” which is held every fall, is a must-see. Shosoin is a historical warehouse built in Nara Park. Here, there are a number of precious treasures, such as items, Chinese rarities, and Persian and Indian crafts of Shomu Tenno, who created the "Todaiji Temple" that holds the Great Buddha in the 8th century. A large number of treasures that are usually hidden are exhibited once a year from Shosoin, and it is a very popular special exhibition.

Opening Hours and Entrance Fee of Nara National Museum

Opening hours of the Nara National Museum are usually from 09:30 to 17:00, but it is open until 20:00 every Friday and Saturday. It is closed every Mondays and on January 1st. The museum also requires an entrance fee, which costs 520 yen per adult. (As of June 2019)

In addition, business hours and fees may differ from above during the special exhibition period, so be sure to check the official website before visiting.

Access to Nara National Museum

To get to Nara National Museum, first head to JR Nara Station or Kintetsu Nara Station. From both stations, ride around the city loop-line bus and get off at "Himuro Shrine · National Museum" bus stop. Furthermore, it takes about 7 minutes from JR Nara Station and about 4 minutes from Kintetsu Nara Station.

It is about a 15-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, so it might be nice to take a walk there as well.

Spot information

  • Spot name: Nara International Museum
  • Street address: 50 Noboriojicho, Nara, 630-8213
  • Access: Take a fixed-route bus from JR Nara Station, get off at Himuro Shrine / National Museum, about a 1 minute walk
  • Wi-Fi: Available (NARA Free Wi-Fi)
  • Language: English, Chinese, Korean
  • Ticket Purchase: At acceptance
  • Credit cards: VISA, JCB, AMERICAN EXPRESS, Diners Club International, UnionPay