Nara National Museum
Nara National Museum is one of Japan’s preeminent cultural institutions – one that sits alongside Tokyo National Museum and Kyoto National Museum its esteem and significant collections. Established in 1889, the museum’s façade and overall design give testament to its origins in the late-19th century as Japan moved-out a long period of self-isolation to embrace many of aspects of Western culture. While Western in its appearance, the museum is primarily dedicated to Japanese Buddhist art across both permanent and temporary collections. Holding many important cultural properties from Todai-ji and other temples, a visit to the museum aids in understanding the development of Buddhism in Japan and Nara’s pivotal role in that story.
Located within Nara Park, the museum sits in close proximity to several of the city’s most celebrated temples and shrines including Todai-ji, Kasuga Taisha and Kofuku-ji. Often overlooked by international visitors in favour of the temples and shrines, the museum is well-worth including on any visit to Nara thanks to the importance of the collection it holds. Within its collection the museum holds artefacts dating back to the Asuka Period (592-710) and with a good amount of English information throughout, it offers one of the more engaging museum experiences for international visitors in Japan. The museum hosts special exhibitions throughout the year so make sure to check the official website for what’s on while you’re in Nara.