Best Museums in Tokyo | 10 Most Unusual Museums to Visit in Tokyo

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Tokyo Holidays: The 10 Most Unusual Museums To Explore

Wish to uncover the weird, quirky and downright eccentric side of Tokyo? Why not pay its unusual museums a visit!

Home to more than 36 million people, Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world. The thriving city is known for its deep-rooted tradition and blooming cherry blossoms, evident in many of Tokyo’s top local attractions.

While Tokyo’s local night spots and street style are admired worldwide, the sprawling city’s museums are certainly worth visiting. As a city that embraces all—the new, the old and the quirky—Tokyo’s 50 odd museums cover virtually any genre which you can think about! Beyond conventional ones like the Tokyo National Museum and the National Art Centre Tokyo, there are a handful of unusual museums worth visiting. From the kawaii (cute) to the grotesque, let the team at Cerulean Tower Tokyu, a Pan Pacific Partner Hotel, introduces you to some of the best museums in Tokyo.


Be “Spirited Away” at the Ghibli Museum

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Ghibli Museum

Address 1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0013, Japan                                                     
Phone Number
+81 0570-055-777
Opening Hours
10am to 6pm (Wednesday to Monday), Closed on Tuesday


If you are a fan of Japanese animation, you need to make a pilgrimage to this museum showcasing the award-winning works of Studio Ghibli. Brainchild of renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, the Ghibli Museum, is a maze of stairwells, passageways, and rooms that replicate Miyazaki's films' creative sets.

Founder of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki produced globally loved movies such as Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and My Neighbour Totoro. His company also received an Academy Award for Spirited Away — the first and only Japanese animation company to do so.

You may spot elements of the different anime films at the museum, which also houses displays of works by Miyazaki and his studio staff. There are reproductions of animated characters, and gain a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into creating animated films. Several Miyazaki short anime films, such as Mr Dough and the Egg Princess, are also regularly screened at the museum's 80-seat theatre.

A wondrous way to explore the world of anime films, the Ghibli Museum is highly recommended for both Miyazaki fans and nonfans alike. 


Get directions to Ghibli Museum


Learn the History of Tobacco and Salt


Tobacco and Salt Museum

Address 1 Chome-16-3 Yokokawa, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0003, Japan                                                     
Phone Number
+81 3-3622-8801
Opening Hours
Monday: 10:00am to 6:00pm (Tuesday to Sunday)


It may sound like an unusual combination, but tobacco and salt were two products that heavily shaped Japan’s industrial history and culture. At the Tobacco and Salt Museum, these commodities are brought to life with a collection of exhibits that explain the critical role they brought to Japan. 

Among the exhibits you will encounter here are ukiyo-e woodblock prints (a genre of woodblock prints popular in the 17th century), tobacco paraphernalia, smoking pipes and different tobacco handling utensils. (And yes, you do not need to be a smoker to appreciate these artefacts!)

Don’t miss The World of Salt exhibit, which focuses on the difference between Japanese and foreign salt. You will also learn about the different types of salt-laced food products which Japan is famous for, including their world-famous soya-sauce. 


Get directions to the Tobacco and Salt Museum


See how the Japanese Lived in the 19th Century


Shitamachi Museum

Address 2-1 Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan                                                     
Phone Number
+81 3-3823-7451
Opening Hours
9:30am to 4:30pm Tuesday to Sunday, Closed on Monday


Take a nostalgic trip to Japan’s past and imagine how a day-in-the-life of a Japanese resident was like as far back as 100 years ago. Explore the narrow alleys and back streets of Tokyo that once bustled with shops, vendors and crowds of people. 

Unlike typical museums which focus on artefacts and artworks, The Shitamachi Museum transports you to retro Tokyo by recreating the atmosphere and living conditions of old-fashioned Tokyo. You can stroll along a carefully reproduced “street”, enter a merchant’s house, or visit a row of tenement houses. Above this street, you can encounter materials and information on the way of life during this period—a far cry from the ultra-modern Tokyo of today.


Get directions to the Shitamachi Museum


Gross Yourself Out at the Meguro Parasitological Museum


Meguro Parasitological Museum

Address 4 Chome-1-1 Shimomeguro, Meguro City, Tokyo 153-0064, Japan                                                     
Phone Number
Opening Hours
10am to 5pm (Friday to Sunday), (Closed on Monday to Thursday)


Plan your trip here some time after lunch (or on an empty stomach)! Home to over 300 different parasite specimens, the quirky Meguro Parasitological Museum is not for the faint-hearted. Among the highlights here is an 8.8-metre-long tapeworm that once resided in a 40-year old man! 

Founded in 1953, the two-storey museum is dedicated to educating visitors on the diversity of different parasites in their natural — and human — habitat. The upper floor focuses on the impact parasites have on humans and the various “wars” which humanity has waged against these invisible intruders. Most certainly an eye-opening — and to some, a stomach-churning — experience!


Get directions to the Meguro Parasitological Museum


Glimpse into the History of Japan’s Crime and Punishment

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Meiji University

Address 1 Chome-1 Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-8301, Japan                                                     
Phone Number
+81 3-3296-4545
Opening Hours
10am to 5pm daily, Closed on University Holidays


Fans of the macabre and the murderous will find the Criminal Materials Department at Meiji University fascinating. Here, you can take a grim look at the country’s history of crime, along with the various punishments inflicted on lawbreakers. 

The exhibitions are presented chronologically, with aptly-named exhibits such as the nostalgic “Culprits of the Edo Period”, graphically depicted “Torture and Tribunal” gallery, and insightful “Execution and Correction” gallery. 

Real artefacts from the different periods are used in the various sections — look out for an original French guillotine as well as the iron maiden of Nuremberg — these deadly instruments are exclusive to Japan.


Get directions to Meiji University


Unfurl the Joy of Origami (Japanese paper folding)

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Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan

Address 1 Chome-7-14 Yushima, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0034, Japan                                                     
Phone Number
+81 3-3811-4025
Opening Hours
9:30am to 5:30pm (Monday to Saturday), Closed on Sunday


Rekindle the joy and wonder of paper folding at this origami museum. From paper butterflies, cranes, monkeys, pagodas, to lotus flowers, the art of traditional Japanese paper folding is on full display at the Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan. Practised and perfected for centuries, origami takes pride of place in Japanese culture. Here, you can learn all about the art of origami, and admire the amazingly intricate and detailed paper creations on display.

Beyond gazing at paper constructions, you can experience the professional process of dyeing washi (Japanese paper), and try crafting your own origami souvenirs with the guidance of in-house experts.


Get directions to the Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan


Be Prepared for an Eye-Opening experience at the Museum of Sewerage

tokyo sewerage museum tokyo sewerage museum


Museum of Sewerage

Address 1-25-31 Josui Honcho, Kodaira City, Tokyo, Japan                                                     
Phone Number
+81 042 326 7411
Opening Hours
10am to 4pm (Tuesday to Sunday), Closed on Monday


Curious to know what happens after you have, err, done your business? Well, this is the place to visit!

The interactive Museum of Sewerage offers an unusual look into an unseen, almost invisible part of Tokyo’s day-to-day life. Learn about and experience how it is like working in sewage pumps, pumping stations, and pumping stations — thankfully in a highly sanitized and clean environment! 

Along the way, you can also see how a central monitoring room — the command centre of the sewerage system — actually works. You will be surprised to learn how scientific, systematic and sophisticated the business of handling your “business” can be!


Get directions to the Museum of Sewerage


Get Schooled in the Art of the Samurai

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Samurai Museum

Address Japan, 〒160-0021 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kabukicho, 2 Chome−25−6 1F・2F 永和ビル 6                                                     
Phone Number
+81 3-6457-6411
Opening Hours
10am to 9pm daily


From the unspoken and the unsightly, we now venture into the essence of Japan’s warrior class. 

Gain an insight into the Samurai code and experience the fighting spirit of these honour-bound warriors at the Samurai Museum. The museum connects visitors to the ways of the Samurai and illustrates how the “Samurai spirit” permeates the lives of Japanese today. 

Marvel at the regally adorned historical costumes, deadly Samurai swords, protective headgear, and ancient guns, among other artefacts. If you feel inspired after your walkthrough of the museum, you can dress in your favourite Samurai costume and strike your best warrior pose for a Tokyo souvenir photo unlike any other.


Get directions to the Samurai Museum


Learn the Beauty of Japanese Calligraphy


Calligraphy Museum

Address 2 Chome-10-4 Negishi, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0003, Japan                                                     
Phone Number
+81 3-3872-2645
Opening Hours
9:30am to 4:30pm (Tuesday to Sunday), Closed on Monday


Immerse in the world of Japanese calligraphy with over 16,000 historical artefacts at the Calligraphy Museum. The works on display include Shodo (the way of artistic handwriting), Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. Many of these works are beautifully crafted — some of the rarer pieces bear immense archaeological value. 

Beyond exhibits of fine calligraphy, you can also explore 12 artefacts of “Cultural Properties” and 5 art treasure pieces — these relics include bronze ware, scrolls, epitaphs, stationery and Buddha statues. Linguaphiles keen to learn about the origins of Chinese characters (kanzi) and Japanese syllables will have a field day at this museum.


Get directions to the Calligraphy Museum


Stay Right in the Heart of Tokyo

King Deluxe Room King Deluxe Room


After a busy day exploring Tokyo’s weird and wonderful museums, consider relaxing in the arms of tranquillity and warmth of modern Japanese hospitality at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel

Centrally located in the bustling Shibuya district, the hotel is an oasis of calm and refinement. Book in advance and enjoy up to 25% savings on the best available rates.

With over 400 spacious guest rooms spread over 40 floors, your hotel offers unobstructed views of the sprawling Tokyo megapolis as well as Mount Fuji on clear days. Staying here for your Tokyo Holidays is comfortable and convenient — the perfect base for exploring the city’s quirky museums!


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