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Nara National Museum|Access, Information, Highlights, Cafe, Lunch Information

Updated: Mar 10



About Nara National Museum

The Nara National Museum is located in Nara Park, with Todaiji Temple, Kofukuji Temple, and Kasuga Taisha Shrine in the nearby area. The museum has a large collection of artworks closely related to Buddhism, and has conveyed the beauty of art, history, and culture created by faith through research and exhibitions.

The museum was established in 1895. It is the second oldest national museum in Japan after the current Tokyo National Museum. The Meiji government at that time promoted the protection of cultural properties, and the "Imperial Nara Museum" was born. It was not until 1952 that the museum changed its name to the current "Nara National Museum.

Since its opening, the museum has guided the protection of art works by preserving and exhibiting numerous "masterpieces and treasures" handed down in shrines and temples at the museum, thereby communicating the value of Buddhist art to a wider public. As part of this effort, the museum has been actively involved in the repair of art works, which is essential for the protection of cultural properties, and in 2002, it established the Conservation and Restoration Office for Cultural Properties. In recent years, while accepting many repairs of cultural properties, it has also devoted itself to research activities related to the repairs.

The Nara National Museum has four exhibition spaces: "Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall," " Bronzes Hall," " East New Hall," and " West New Hall”. The Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall is connected to the east and west galleries by a 150-meter underground corridor, making it easy to visit each exhibition.


Nara National Museum Overall view

※For details on each exhibition room, please visit the Nara National Museum website.

https://www.narahaku.go.jp/guide/ Nara National Museum Access & Visitor Information

Address

50 Todaiji-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, 630-8213, Japan

Tel

050-5542-8600

Access from the nearest station

From Kintetsu "Nara" station

  • 15 minutes walk to the east on Noborioji Street.

  • Take a city circulation bus going outbound and get off at "Himuro Jinja / National Museum" stop.

  • Take Gurutto Bus (Nara Park Route or Omiya-dori Route) and get off at "Daibutsuden-mae Parking Lot" (5 min. walk).

From JR Nara Station

  • Take the City Loop Bus (Outer route) and get off at "Himuro Shrine / National Museum" stop.

  • Take Gurutto Bus (Nara Park Route or Omiya Street Route), get off at "Daibutsuden-mae Parking Lot" and walk for 5 minutes.

Opening hours

9:30 - 17:00 (admission until 16:30)

Regular closing days

  • Every Monday (or the following day if it is a holiday, or the day after the end of a consecutive holiday)

  • December 28 - January 1

  • Open on Mondays during Todaiji's "Nigatsudo Shuni-kai (water-drawing ceremony)" from March 1 to 14.

  • Opening days are irregular depending on the season.

Admission

"Masterpieces, Special Exhibitions", and Feature Exhibitions": ¥700 for adults, ¥350 for university students

*Free admission for high school students and younger and those under 18 years old. (The same applies to free schools, etc.)

*Free admission for persons aged 70 and over. ( identification of age is required )

*Free for disabled persons and an equal number of caregivers. (Disability certificate or Mililo iD is required)

*Adult visitors under high school age and those accompanying visitors under 18 years old receive a 100 yen discount for adults and a 50 yen discount for university students.

*Adult visitors who visit the museum after 17:00 on days with extended opening hours receive a 100 yen discount for adults and a 50 yen discount for university students.

Facilities

wheelchair rental, elevator, wheelchair-accessible toilets, diaper changing beds, baby chairs, AED, museum store, cafe/restaurant

Note

Assistance dogs are allowed. As there is no dedicated parking lot, please use a nearby one.

Official Website





Highlights of the Nara National Museum


Collections

The collection of the Nara National Museum consists mainly of Buddhist art dating from the Asuka era. The museum houses a total of 1,911 items, including 13 National Treasures and 114 Important Cultural Properties. The museum also has a total of 1,974 items on deposit (as of March 2020), including 52 National Treasures and 306 Important Cultural Properties.

The collection is diverse, including sculptures, paintings, books, crafts, archaeological artifacts, and bronzes. Visitors can view many outstanding masterpieces of Buddhist art, including the National Treasure "Seated Yakushi Nyorai" and the Important Cultural Property "One-Character Golden Wheel Mandala". The museum's collection of Buddhist sculptures is particularly extensive, with 100 pieces on display at any given time, and is one of the highlights of the museum.





Architecture of buildings

Construction was completed in 1894 as the Imperial Nara Museum, and the museum was established in April of the following year. It was designed by architect KATAYAMA Tokuma. Mr. KATAYAMA is known as a court architect, and his masterpiece is the former Crown Prince's Palace (now the State Guest House), designated as a national treasure.

The former Imperial Nara Museum's main building (now the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall) was the first Western-style building in Nara. It is characterized by its French Renaissance-style brickwork. The number of windows was reduced for earthquake resistance, and light was taken in from the rooftop. In 1969, the former Imperial Nara Museum's main building (now the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall) was designated an Important Cultural Property.

In 1972, the "West New Hall" and in 1997, the "East New Hall" were born. The two new buildings were designed by YOSHIMURA Junzo, known as a master of Japanese modernist architecture. The exterior of each building was designed to harmonize with the landscape, incorporating the image of Shosoin Temple.





Representative past exhibitions

Based on the religious background of Buddha, Mahayana Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and Suijaku, the Nara National Museum has been presenting thematic exhibitions in the "Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall," "Bronze Sculpture Hall," "East New Hall," and "West New Hall" exhibition spaces respectively.

In the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall, approximately 100 masterpieces of Buddhist sculpture, including national treasures and important cultural properties, are on display at all times. In the Bronze Hall, connected to the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall by a corridor, visitors can view ancient Chinese bronze artifacts. The West New Hall exhibits paintings, calligraphy, crafts, and archaeological artifacts by field. The East New Hall holds a variety of seasonal exhibitions, such as special exhibits and children's exhibits. The "Shosoin Exhibition" held in the East and West New Halls has been a popular exhibit since 1946, after World War II.

<Major Exhibitions>

Special Exhibition "The Birth of the Imperial Nara Museum: Construction History Based on Blueprints and Construction Records" (2021)

"Prince Shotoku and Horyuji Temple" Special Exhibition, marking the 1,400th memorial of Prince Shotoku's death (2021)

Special Exhibition "National Treasure: The Eleven-Faced Kannon of Shorinji Temple -Mihotoke of the Miwasan faith" (2022)

“The 75th Shosoin Exhibition" (2023)




Museum Shop

The museum shop is located in the free admission zone of the underground corridor. It can be accessed from inside the museum as well as from outside, and is open to non-visitors.

The store offers a wide variety of products, including history and art-related books, stationery, apparel, and accessories. Especially attractive are the "Cheerful Buddha Statue Series," which are characterizations of Buddhist statues, and Shosoin patterned accessories related to the Shosoin exhibition, which are only available at the Nara National Museum. Please take a look at them as a souvenir of your visit to the museum.



Opening hours

9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in principle

Closed

Mondays (or the following day if it is a holiday, or the day after the end of a consecutive holiday)

Website

Online Shop




Cafe and Restaurant Information

The restaurant "Hafu Taimu" is located in the basement corridor as well as the museum shop. It serves coffee, tea, sweets, and a menu of meals such as French hamburgers and special curry. Additive-free mandarin orange juice "100% Kindai Desu" is a rare menu item available only at limited locations. Its rich flavor is well received. The open space is recommended for a short break before or after viewing. Terrace seating is also available.



Opening hours

10:00 - 17:00 (last order: meals until 15:00 / coffee until 16:30)

Closed

Mondays (or the following day if it is a holiday, or the day after the end of a consecutive holiday)

Website





Places to visit around Nara National Museum


Nara Prefectural Museum of Art


The Nara Prefectural Museum of Art is located in Noborioji-cho, Nara City. The museum was opened upon the donation of the collection by Kanpo YOSHIKAWA Kanpo (1894-1979), a Japanese painter and researcher of genre history. In addition to works associated with Nara, paintings, sculptures, crafts, and designs from the Kamakura period to the present have been collected from time to time, and the museum's collection exceeds 4,300 items (as of July 2023).

Not limited to classical works, in recent years the museum has also held exhibitions of posters by Nara-born graphic designer TANAKA Ikko and world-renowned designer Issey Miyake, as well as contemporary realist paintings. Volunteers also provide commentary on the works, offering visitors the opportunity to participate in the viewing of the works.





Isuien and Neirak Museum of Art


The Japanese garden at Isuien is a nationally designated place of scenic beauty and one of Nara's most popular tourist attractions. The garden is divided into two parts, the "front garden" created in the Edo period and the "back garden" built in the Meiji era, allowing visitors to enjoy two different garden landscapes at the same time. The garden is beautifully decorated with flowers of the four seasons and is set against the backdrop of Todaiji's South Gate and the mountains of Wakakusa and Kasuga.




Irie Taikichi Memorial Museum of Photography Nara City


Irie Taikichi Memorial Nara City Museum of Photography is the only museum of photography in the Kansai region, located in Takahata-cho, Nara City. Focusing on the work of Nara-born IRIE Taikichi (1905-1992), one of Japan's leading photographers, the museum exhibits the works of photographers who have cultivated Japan's unique photographic culture, as well as those of the next generation of artists.


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