Travelogue: Kyoto’s Top 10 Must Visit Museums


Japan Press Trip Part 10

As the Japanese capital for 1,000 years, Kyoto is chock-a-block with gardens, palaces, shrines, and temples. There are also countless art galleries and several museums that merit a visit. Here are 10 of the most interesting.



Following lunch, travel writers on the Japan Press Trip are taken to the Modern Wing of the Kyoto National Museum.

We are taken to the modern wing of the Kyoto National Museum, where we are given about an hour to explore the exhibitions on our own. OMG! I could spend the whole day here!!!

Before I know it, it’s time to climb back into the bus and head to the next spot on our tour. On my next trip to Kyoto, I want to visit more of the ancient city’s museums. I’ve done my research, and these 10 are on my bucket list.

Guide to Kyoto’s Best Museums  

From international class museums such as the Kyoto National Museum to the avant-garde I. M. Pei designed Miho Museum, which is arguably more noteworthy for its stunning architecture than for its priceless collection, Kyoto has several museums that merit a visit.

Times vary from museum to museum, and most have at least one day off a week. Some museums – especially smaller ones – require advanced bookings. Make sure to check websites before setting off to avoid disappointment.

Backlinks to each museum’s official website follow each listing. They are listed in random order.

1. Kyoto National Museum – houses a collection of more than 12,000 art treasures privately owned by shrines, temples, and the Imperial Household. Included are fine arts, hardicrafts, and archaeological finds.

527 Chaya-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone: +81-(0) 75-541-1151. 

2. Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art – Japan’s 2nd oldest art museum, it houses 2,100 pieces of art including works by both Japanese and Western artists. Includes calligraphy, crafts, paintings, sculptures, and wood block prints.

Okazaki Enshoji-cho Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone.: +81-(0) 75-771-4107. 

3. Museum of Kyoto – houses sections on the history of Kyoto, fine arts, and crafts as well as a reconstructred street from the Edo period with actual shops and restaurants, where visitors can shop and dine.

Sanjo-Takakura, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone: +81-(0) 75-222-0888. 

4. National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto – houses a collection of Japanese and foreign artworks and reference materials from the 20th century, with an emphasis on artists and artistic movements in Kyoto and Western Japan.

Okazaki Enshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone: +81-(0) 75-761-4111. 

5. Kyoto Aquarium – zones covering everything from the rivers of Kyoto to sea animals, penguins, the ocean, and nature. The main pool has 7 viewing spots including a fish-eye lens and a cave.

35-1 Kankijicho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan (inside Umekoji Park). Telephone: +81-(0) 75-354-3130. 

6. Kyoto International Manga Museum – houses manga and manga-related materials including everything from 19th century to current publications in Japanese and other languages. There is a very cool gift shop and cafe.

Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone: +81-(0) 75-254-7414.

7. Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum – a sake making plant offering a video showing the production process with visits to processing facilities, the tea inspection room, the tea ceremony room, and a chance to drink sake.

247 Minamihama-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone.: +81-(0) 75-623-2056. 

8. Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts – houses exhibits on the traditional crafts and industries of Kyoto with artifacts, illustrations, and panel displays. Included are ceramics, kimono, lacquerware, and obi sashes.

Seishoji-cho, Okazaki, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone.: +81-(0) 75-762-2670.

9. Costume Museum – exhibits life sized dolls dressed in various types of garments from different periods of Japanese history. Included is a re-creation of the Spring Palace and examples of costumes from the Tale of the Genji.

5th Floor, Izutsu Building, Shinhanayacho-Dori, Horikawa Higashiiru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone.: +81-(0) 75-342-5345. 

10. Miho Museum – located in the Shigaraki Mountains, the museum, which was designed by I. M. Pei, houses a private collection of Asian and Western antiques. Included are stoneware tea ceremony vessels.

300, Tashiro Momodani, Shigaraki, Shiga, Japan. Telephone.: +81-(0) 748-82-3411. 

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