Top 5 Recommended Museums in Kyoto

In this article, we will choose and introduce to you 5 museums worth visiting in Kyoto. Kyoto is not only famous for its temples and shrines, there are also many contemporary art museums, manga, wine culture, and even modern architecture. Apart the most important “Kyoto National Museum”, there are “Kyoto International Manga Museum (Japan’s largest manga museum)”, the “National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto”, as well as museums outside Kyoto like “Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum” where peaches bloom and “MIHO Museum”. Every single one of them are very precious.

1. Kyoto National Museum: The most important museum in the ancient capital

1. Kyoto National Museum: The most important museum in the ancient capital

The most important museum in Kyoto, the “Kyoto National Museum” boast of a history of 120 years. The main buildings of the museum are the “Meiji Kotokan Hall (main building)” and the “Heisei Chishinkan Wing”. Furthermore, you can also enjoy the Tea House and Garden. If you are lucky, you may be able to meet with the museum mascot, Torarin the tiger.

There are about 14,000 items consisting of ceramics, archaeology, painting, sculpture, ink drawings, dyeing and weaving, processed metal, lacquer ware, etc. These are the cultural assets from the Heian period to the Edo period. The museum holds exhibition, research, preservation and promotes education on cultural heritage as well. In addition to the usual exhibitions of the museum’s selected collection, they also hold 2-4 special exhibitions every year. It is a good opportunity to enjoy traditional Japanese culture.

Spot information

  • Spot name: Kyoto National Museum
  • Street address: 527 Chayacho, Higashiyama, Kyoto, Kyoto 605-0931
  • Access: 7-minute walk from Keihan line’s Shijo station
  • Opening hour: 9:30am~5pm (closes on 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays)
  • Holidays: December 31st and January 1st, every Monday (If Monday is a public holiday, it will open on that Monday and close on the next day [Tuesday].)
  • Admission fee:
    • Adult: 260 yen
    • University students 130 yen
    • ※Additional charges may apply during special exhibition

2. Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art: the modernization of the ancient city

The modern gray building, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto is built in front of the Okazaki Park rich with greeneries, the road towards the Heian Shrine and the canal of Lake Biwa. The current building which was completed in 1986 was designed by a famous Japanese architect known as MAKI Fumihiko (槇 文彦).

The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto has a collection of more than 12,000 modern and contemporary works of art from in and out of Japan. Their collection of Kyoto’s paintings and Kansai’s western paintings is something particularly noteworthy. They also collect, preserve and investigate prints, ceramics, sculptures, designs, pictures and more. The fourth floor is where the collections are kept at and the exhibitions are normally held at the third floor. You can also see the Heian Shrine’s big Torii (Japanese red gate) from the lobby of the 4th floor.

Spot information

  • Spot name: National Museum of Modern Arts, Kyoto
  • Street address: 26-1 Okazaki Enshojicho, Sakyo, Kyoto, Kyoto 606-8344
  • Access:
    • 10-minute walk from Subway Tozai line’s Higashiyama station exit 1
    • Take the Kyoto city bus #5, #100, or #46 and get off at the Okazaki-koen Bijutsukan・Heian-jinja Mae station. It is right in front of that station.
  • Opening hour: 9:30am~5pm (closes on 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays)
  • Holidays: December 31st and January 1st, every Monday (If Monday is a public holiday, it will open on that Monday and close on the next business day.)
  • Admission fee:
    • Adult: 430 yen
    • University student: 130 yen
    • High school students/below 18 years old/65 years old and above: free

3. Kyoto International Manga Museum: Read 50,000 manga for free!

Kyoto International Manga Museum is the largest manga museum in Japan. The manga that are collected and preserved in this museum ranges from the Ukiyoe in the Edo period, to the first edition magazines in the Meiji-Showa period, and to the latest popular manga and comics from around the world now. The collection sums up to 300,000 pieces.

The main attraction of this museum is the Manga Wall which is 200 meters in height and takes up to 3 floors (1F~3F). The 50,000 manga from the bookshelf can be viewed freely inside the museum. The manga wall is divided into 3 divisions, the 1st floor for the male teenager, 2nd floor for the female teenagers, and the 3rd floor for the adults.

Spot information

  • Spot name: Kyoto International Manga Museum
  • Street address: (former Tatsuike primary school) Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo, Kyoto, Kyoto
  • Access: 2-minute walk from the Kyoto Subway Karasuma/Tozai line’s Karasuma Oike station exit 2
  • Opening hour: 10am~6pm
  • Holidays: December 31st and January 1st, every Wednesday (If Wednesday is a public holiday, it will open on that Wednesday and close on the next business day.)
  • Admission fee: 800 yen

4. Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum: Let’s enjoy Japanese Sake!

This museum has inherited the ancient brewing tools (designated as “Kyoto’s cultural assets”), and through exhibitions, lets you feel the Sake culture of Kyoto and Fushimi. This museum has a collection of many documents regarding the history of brewing Sake like the Sake brewing song. They will recreate the process of sake brewery of the past, bringing out the atmosphere at that time. You can also enjoy Ginjo sake and other strong sake after your visit.

Spot information

  • Spot name: Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum
  • Street address: 247 Minamiham-cho, Fushimi, Kyoto, Kyoto 612-8860
  • Access:
    • 5-minute walk from the Keihan line’s Chushojima station, 10-minute walk from the Fushimi-momoyama station
    • 10-minute walk from Kintetsu Kyoto line’s Momoyamagoryo-mae station
    • 18-minute walk from JR Nara line’s Momoyama station
  • Opening hour: 9:30am ~ 4:30pm
  • Holidays:
    • Obon: 13th August ~ 16th August 2018
    • End of the year and the beginning of the year: 28th December 2018 ~ 4th January 2019
  • Admission fee: Adult: 400 yen

5. MIHO Museum: Enchanted fairyland

Along with a huge collection of Japanese arts, MIHO museum also has ancient arts from Egypt, West Asia, Greece, Rome, South Asia, China and so on. The sakura filled walkway, the tunnel and the bridge connected to the building was designed by I. M. Pei who designed the famed glass pyramid. He got the inspiration for the design from a Chinese literature, The Peach-blossom Fountain. It is a story where a fisherman was led by the fragrance from the peach blossom forest into the cave. When he wandered into the cave, he saw a dreamlike wonderland. In that wonderland, everyone was living happily, and they even invited the fisherman and treated him kindly.

We hope you enjoy the beautiful nature, architectural designs, arts and food in harmony in The Peach Blossom Land.

Spot information

  • Spot name: MIHO Museum
  • Street address: 300 Momodani, Tashiro Shigaraki, Koka, Shiga 529-1814
  • Access: 50-minute train from JR Ishiyama station
  • Opening hour: 10am ~ 5pm
  • Holidays: Every Monday (If Monday is a public holiday, then it will open on Monday and close on the next business day [Tuesday]) during regular operation in spring, summer, and fall. There are unscheduled close dates, so please check the website before you go.
  • Admission fee: Adult: 1,100 yen