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Obscure museums

Lesser known museums to check out

Museums are typically the first place many would go to learn more about a country's history and culture. Depending on the museum, priceless works of art are also exhibited and give visitors a look into a whole new world. It is no different in Japan, and there is a large variety of museums to choose from. The art islands in the Seto Inland Sea are particularly popular, as are the numerous National Museums and train museums.

Instead of focusing on museums that most people have already heard of, here is a list of five relatively obscure museums that are worth visiting.

Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Matsumoto

Opened in 2002, the Matsumoto City Museum of Art is located in Matsumoto. The small museum features temporary exhibitions of artists with links to Matsumoto. Yayoi Kusama, who was born in the city, has a permanent exhibition at the museum, which typically does not get too crowded.

D.T. Suzuki Museum, Kanazawa

Suzuki Daisetsu Teitaro was a Buddhist philosopher who lived in the 20th century. The books he wrote and transcribed were influential in spreading Zen Buddhism in the West in the 20th century. The D.T. Suzuki Museum opened in 2011 and is located in Kanazawa, where Suzuki was born. The museum introduces the life and works of this prolific writer and philosopher, and visitors can also spend some time in quiet reflection at a dedicated space.

Enoura Observatory, Odawara

The Enoura Observatory in Odawara is a museum that combines both art installations and nature, showcasing how both are intertwined together. The focal points at the museum are the specially constructed and aligned observatories from where the summer and winter solstices can be viewed. Most of the artworks are located under the open sky, and range from old thousand-year-old stones to modern art installations.

Minakata Kumagusu Museum, Shirahama

Tucked away at the northwestern edge of Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture, is the Minakata Kumagusu Museum. Born in Wakayama Prefecture, Minakata Kumagusu was a naturalist and folklorist who devoted a large percentage of his life to the study of slime mold and protecting natural habitats. The museum introduces the life and works of this intellectual.

TOTO Museum, Kitakyushu

The TOTO Museum in Kitakyushu is a museum by toilet manufacturer TOTO, to showcase the evolution of their business and products. Inside the well-done museum, visitors will get to see TOTO's hand in the toilet industry and development of high tech toilet functions that are commonly seen in most public toilets across Japan these days. It is also worth noting that the public toilets at the museum are also a joy to use.

Home Delivery by japan-guide.com is a series of articles on Japanese culture, life and travel for all of us who are currently staying home to flatten the curve. Many travel plans, including our own, have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. While we aren't able to share new content from the road, we hope this collection from our travel archive helps you explore a bit of Japan from your own home.