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Kanto
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Honshu
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Tokyo
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The National Museum of Western Art

The Gate of Hell via Ueno.

Samurai armor, calligraphy, and Japanese textiles aren’t the only thing to be found in museums in Japan. The National Museum of Western Art in Ueno has a killer collection of mainly European art including that of French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Gaze into the void as you stand before “The Gate of Hell” or get philosophical under the watchful eyes of “The Thinker.” These are two of Rodin’s most well-known sculptures that greet visitors in the forecourt. If you’re looking for something closer to a conventional European or American style museum, this is definitely the spot for you.

Auguste Rodin's The Thinker.

Photo by: Cloganese Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker.”

Of the six museums in Ueno Park, The National Museum of Western Art is the newest opening in 1959. The museum’s main building, “Le Corbusier”, was recognized as a  Unesco World Heritage Site for its “outstanding architectural work” in 2016. Beyond the statue garden and intricate architecture lies a story of post-war relations between Japan and France.

A French Museum in Tokyo

The permanent exhibition area of the museum has a wide variety of paintings, sketches and other forms of expressive art, ranging from 14th century Gothic and Renaissance right up to 20th Century post-war modern art. Mainly though, the museum is the home of the Matsukata Collection, featuring works by Monet and Van Gogh among others.

The National Museum of Western Art, Ueno Park, Tokyo. Designed by Le Corbusier

Photo by: Chris Guy The National Museum of Western Art is one of six museums in Ueno Park.

Kojiro Matsukata was a prominent artist, politician and philanthropist in the early 1900s. Having studied in both the US and Europe prior to World War II, much of Matsukata’s  collection was held in Paris after the war ended because they were considered as “enemy property.” The around 400 paintings, sculptures, and tapestries were returned to Japan in 1959 on the condition that Japan build a French art museum in the nation’s capital city.

The museum gives off classic French and European vibes, creating a unique atmosphere that can’t be found elsewhere in Tokyo.

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Things To Know

Hours and Fees

The National Museum of Western Art is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and Sunday. On Friday and Saturday, it’s open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed on Mondays. If Monday is a national holiday, the museum will be closed the following Tuesday instead. The permanent collection costs ¥500 for adults and ¥250 for university students. Special exhibitions costs extra and vary in price. The permanent collection is free annually on May 18, and Nov. 3, as well as the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒110-0007 Tōkyō-to, Taito City, Uenokōen, 7−7 国立西洋美術館本館

By train

The museum is located in Ueno Park, approximately 7 minutes on foot from Ueno Station, which is served by the JR, Keisei, Hibiya Subway and Ginza Subway Lines.

If coming from Narita Airport, the Keisei line will get you to Ueno Station in about 90 minutes.

Where To Stay

Hotel Sunroute Stellar Ueno
  • Ueno 7-7-1 Taito-Ku, Tokyo 110-0005
  • 8.2/10
  • 0.3 km
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Sauna & Capsule Hotel Hokuo
  • Ueno 7-2-16 Taito-Ku, Tokyo 110-0005
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.3 km
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Hotel New Ueno
  • Ueno 7-2-5 Taito-Ku, Tokyo 110-0005
  • 8/10
  • 0.3 km
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Sutton Place Hotel Ueno
  • Ueno 7-8-23 Taito-Ku, Tokyo 110-0005
  • 8.2/10
  • 0.3 km
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