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Kyoto National Museum
The Kyoto National Museum houses approximately 12,000 items including officially designated national treasures and important cultural properties. Meiji Koto-kan, a red-brick Western-style structure built in 1895 is an important cultural property and Heisei Chishin-kan, completed in 2014, was designed by a world-renowned architect, Yoshio Taniguchi. In the gardens, you can also see “The Thinker,” a sculpture by Rodin, and a tearoom. Due to its location in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, in addition to the national treasures and important cultural properties, numerous items donated from local temples and shrines comprise the museum’s collection, covering a vast range of historical periods and fields. From the items on exhibit to the buildings itself, it is truly a first class museum.
- 527 Chayacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
- Contact No.
- Take City Bus Route 206 or 208 from JR Kyoto Station, 10-min ride to Museum/Sanjusangendo stop.
- Opening Hours / Holidays
Closed: Mondays, year end and New Year holidays
- Official Website
- Time Required
- 60 minutes
※ Some information is displayed in Japanese and machine-translated English, which may not be accurate.
For the latest information, please check the official website for each spot.
Meiji Koto-kan is the nation’s designated important cultural property and is the symbolic figure of the entire museum. It is a Western-styled architectural structure from the Meiji Era, in which the hall itself, as well as individual exhibition rooms and the courtyard, are all arranged in bilateral symmetry. This historic retro-style hall with its nostalgic air creates a fascinating contrast with the neighboring Heisei Chishin-kan, a state-of-the-art building of modern design. (*Closed for an indefinite period due to archaeological survey.)
Heisei Chishin-kan was designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, a world-renowned architect whose works also include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Tokyo National Museum. Visitors are greeted by a gentle sunlight shining through an expansive lobby. In the exhibition space, uniquely Japanese in its linear design, many valuable items are displayed for your appreciation.
Numerous National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties
12,000 or so items housed in the museum, some donated, cover every spectrum of culture. Archaeological artifacts such as clay images from the Tumulus Period, textiles, potteries, sculptures, paintings, calligraphic works, various crafts including “maki-e” (lacquerware applying layer of gold and/or silver as an ornamentation) and battle gear such as armor and swords can all be seen here. The museum owns about 30 national treasures, including Sesshu’s painting of “Amanohashidate” and a calligraphic work by Kobo Daishi, as well as 180 or so important cultural properties.
Rodin’s sculpture, “The Thinker”
There is a garden in front of Meiji Koto-kan and at the center of its quarter adorned with a water fountain sits “The Thinker,” a work by French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. Multiple “thinkers” have been cast and exist as part of a large commission. One seen at this museum is a work from a relatively early stage.
East Garden and West Garden
In springtime, beautiful azaleas bloom around the fountain. The West Garden, located in the western corner of the premises, displays stonework including an image of the Buddha and a lantern. It is quite beautiful in the season of cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. In the East Garden, east of Meiji Koto-kan, is the tearoom “Tan-an,” which is a great, albeit less-known, spot for enjoying autumn foliage.
After satisfying your curiosity and intellect at the museum, we recommend that you stop by Sanjusangendo. It is known for the “Seated Statue of Thousand Armed Kannon (Bodhisattva),” a national treasure, as well as the spectacular view of 1,000 life-size Kannon statues aligned on a stepped platform.