When it comes to museums, people usually think about exhibitions that showcase similar items such as paintings, sculptures and historical artefacts. Known as one of the most creative and innovative countries, Japan is home to a variety of wacky exhibition halls that go beyond the concept of a museum. If you are looking for something unique and adorable, check out these seven museums on your trip to Japan.
TOWEL MUSEUM OF ART
Located in the backwoods outside the city of Imabari, the Towel Museum of Art is the world’s first museum dedicated to towel manufacturing. There are exhibits on the towel-making process, displays of various traditional towels and a section that focuses on works of art made out of towels. There is also a garden with some nice displays of citrus trees and Moomin statuary and a restaurant. If you are looking for something to take home, you will find plenty of reasonably-priced options.
|Address: 2930 Asakurakami, Imabari, Ehime 799-1607, Japan|
Opening hours: 9am – 5.30pm
OMIYA BONSAI ART MUSEUM
Opened in 2010, the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum is the world’s first publicly run museum dedicated to bonsai art. It boasts more than 120 bonsai masterpieces and other bonsai-related artefacts such as bonsai pots, miniature landscape stone called suiseki, books and woodblock prints. If you are a bonsai art aficionado, make sure to check out these seasonal exhibitions throughout the year in the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.
|Address: 331-0804 Saitama, Kita Ward, Torocho, 2 Chome−２４−3, Japan|
Opening hours: 9am – 4.30pm during March – October / 9am – 4pm during November – February
CUP NOODLES MUSEUM
Known as the museum dedicated to Japan’s ubiquitous instant noodles, the Cup Noodles Museum was built to honour Ando Momofuku who first invented instant noodles in 1958. Here, you will learn about the history and the development of the food through “Traces of Momofuku Ando” with visual images, testimonials and personal effects. What’s more, this interactive museum also allows guests to make their own chicken ramen from scratch at the Chicken Ramen Factory and create personal Cup Noodles packaging and then fill it up with one of the soups available in the Cup Noodles Factory.
|Address 1: 8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda, Osaka 563-0041, Japan|
Opening hours: 9.30am – 4.30pm except for Tuesday
Address 2: 2 Chome-3-4 Shinko, Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa 231-0001, Japan
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm except for Tuesday
THE SAND MUSEUM
Based specifically in Tottori, the location of Japan’s largest dune system which spans nearly 10 miles of coastline, the Sand Museum is the world’s only indoor museum dedicated to sand sculptures. Found in 2006, the museum boasts an excellent collection of sand sculptures that are centred around the theme of travelling around the world. The museum’s first exhibit was focused on Italy and the Renaissance, with sand sculptures of famous Italian buildings and statues, while the most recent one took visitors to South Asia, with sculptures of Gandhi, the Taj Mahal and Hindu mythology.
|Address: 2083-17 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, 689-0105, Japan|
Opening hours: Monday – Friday, Sunday: 9am – 4pm / Saturday: 9am – 6pm
ZAO KOKESHI MUSEUM
Located a stone’s throw from Togatta Onsen, the Zao Kokeshi Museum boasts an enormous collection of 5,500 kokeshi wooden dolls on display – the largest in Japan. Known as a traditional Japanese craft that originated in the hot springs regions of northern Japan, kokeshi generally have no arms or legs, the overall shape and facial features vary from region to region. Visiting this adorable museum, you can have the opportunity to witness kokeshi artisans at work and paint your very own doll.
|Address: Shinchinishiurayama-36-135 Togattaonsen, Zaō, Katta District, Miyagi 989-0916, Japan|
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm
If you are a cat lover, not to be missed to visit the Cat Museum in Japan which was established as a place to study cats while playing with them. Here, you will have the opportunity to learn about the evolutionary progression of the species with skeletal recreations of different types of cats, from saber-toothed tigers down to the domesticated house cat. Additionally, cat toys, dolls and other cats that appeared in Japanese culture like the lucky cat are also displayed for visitors to explore. It is certain that you will be excited with a myriad of real cats roaming the premises, all of which can be interacted with.
|Address: Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan|
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm
No Japan museum list would be complete without a mention of the Ghibli Museum. Inspired by the well-known animation studio for films like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke, the museum showcases the work of the esteemed Studio Ghibli. Here, you will find a range of exhibits that detail the studio’s history as well as film and animation techniques. Remember that visitors are not allowed to take photos or videos inside. There is also a cafe, a children’s play area, a rooftop garden and a theatre where original short films created exclusively for the museum.
|Address: 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0013, Japan|
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm