As the imperial capital and center of court life for over 1000 years, Kyoto has naturally played a central role in the development of Japanese culture. The modern city continues to take pride in its cultural heritage, offering an interesting set of museums devoted to history, arts, crafts and more. A selection of some of the city's most prominent museums is listed below.
Visitors planning to see multiple museums should consider the Kansai Grutto Pass. For 1100 yen, the pass provides free or discounted admission to around 100 museums and galleries in the Kansai Region. It is available annually from early April through January of the following year and is valid for one entry to each participating museum. The pass expires three months from its first use or on March 31, whichever occurs first. A 6-month version is available for 2000 yen and also expires on March 31 at the latest.
One of four national museums across the country, the Kyoto National Museum focuses on traditional Japanese art. It features both, exhibitions from its permanent collection and various temporary special exhibitions. Special exhibitions are shown in the museum's brick building from the Meiji Period, while the permanent collection is housed in a modern building newly opened in 2014.
The Museum of Kyoto
5 minute walk southeast of Karasuma-Oike Station Hours: 10:00 to 19:30 (entry until 19:00) Closed: Mondays (or following day if Mon is a national holiday), New Year Admission: 500 yen (permanent exhibition)
This museum offers a very attractive permanent exhibition about the history of Kyoto, although its floor space is relatively small, and information in English is limited, making it difficult to fully appreciate without Japanese reading skills. In addition, special exhibitions are held periodically.
Arts and Crafts
About 15 min from Imadegawa Station Hours: 10:00 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00) Closed: Mondays and between exhibitions Admission: Varies depending on exhibition, typically between 700 - 1000 yen
The Raku Museum features pottery created using Raku family techniques and traditions. Many of the ceramic works are related to the tea ceremony, especially tea bowls, but also vases and water vessels. The family put down roots in the location of the museum in the Momoyama Period and was favored by tea master Sen no Rikyu.
Horikawa-Imadegawa bus stop or 10 minute walk from Imadegawa Station Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 Closed: December 29 to January 3 Admission: Free
Nishijin Textile Center, named after the city district and local kimono weaving technique, offers interesting displays on kimono, and a kimono show is held several times a day. Last but not least, there is a large shopping section.
Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
Near Heian Shrine Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays) Closed: Mondays (or following day if Monday is a national holiday), New Year Admission: 430 yen (does not include special exhibition fee, which varies)
Often referred to by its initials, MOMAK, the Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto changes the works on display from its permanent collection every couple of months. There are also special exhibitions organized in conjunction with other museums or groups. The museum building itself is a modern construction that was completed in 1986.
Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art
Near Heian Shrine Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30) Closed: Mondays (except national holidays), New Year holidays Admission: 730 yen (collection), fees for temporary exhibitions vary
Located across from MOMAK near Heian Shrine, this city-operated art museum was opened in the 1930s to celebrate the enthronement of the new emperor. It underwent major renovations from 2017 to 2020 and renamed to reflect the financial support by the Kyoto-based Kyocera company. The large brick building has a lot of floor space and shows a wide variety of exhibitions, from major works from the museum's collection to winning entries in local competitions.
500 meters east of the museums in front of Heian Shrine Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:30 from December to February) Admission ends 30 minutes before closing Closed: Mondays (or following day if Mon is a holiday), Dec 29 to Jan 3 Admission: Free
This interesting museum is dedicated to the construction of the seven kilometer long Lake Biwa Canal, which runs between Kyoto and Biwa Lake to the east. The canal was a massive project and was completed in the late 1800s. The museum displays maps, models and tools.
Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum
About 10 min from Chushojima or Momoyama Goryo-mae Stations Hours: 9:30 to 16:30 (entry until 16:15) Closed: Obon, December 28 to January 4 Admission: 400 yen
Gekkeikan is one of the largest sake companies in Japan. The Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum was established in Fushimi, the same area as the company's original brewery, and displays traditional tools and methods of sake brewing. There is a free sake tasting at the end of a visit to the museum.
5 min from Uzumasa-Koryuji Station, 15 min from Hanazono Station Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (from 10:00 from December to February) Closed: Irregularly closed for maintenance Admission: 2400 yen
The Eigamura is part of the Toei film studios in Kyoto. It also serves as a theme park, where visitors can see first hand the sets that are used to film popular movies and TV dramas set in the Edo Period (1603-1867).
Just beside Karasuma-Oike Station Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30) Closed: Wednesdays (or following day if Wednesday is a national holiday), New Year holidays, irregular maintenance days Admission: 900 yen (special exhibitions not included)
The Kyoto International Manga Museum serves as both a facility for manga research and an exhibition space. The museum has a massive collection of manga that can be browsed by guests, and there are also special exhibitions on themes related to international manga.