The Nara National Museum

Discover the Nara National Museum, a treasure trove of Japanese history, Buddhist sculptures and art.

Explore The Nara National Museum

Delve into the fascinating world of Japanese art and history at the (奈良国立博物館, Nara Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan), otherwise known as the Nara National Museum. Established in 1889, this esteemed museum is dedicated to the preservation and showcasing of Japan’s cultural heritage, with an emphasis on Japanese Buddhist art. In this article, we will explore the wealth of treasures hidden within the Nara Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan and underscore the significance of this world-class institution.

Nara National Museum
Nara National Museum

Useful Information

nara national museum

Information Details
Official Website Nara National Museum
Official Twitter Narahaku Twitter
Telephone (81) 50-5542-8600 (from outside Japan)
Location Nara, Japan
Prefecture Nara Prefecture
Important Info Please maintain a respectful and quiet demeanor.
Photography restrictions may apply in certain areas.
Guided tours are available in multiple languages.
The museum offers wheelchair accessibility.
Food and drinks are not allowed inside the exhibition halls.

Navigating to the Nara National Museum from Nara Station
Navigating to the Nara National Museum from Nara Station


Location and Architecture

Nestled in the lush grounds of Nara Park, the Nara National Museum boasts both a rich historical setting and awe-inspiring architecture.

The museum’s original building, constructed in the Meiji Period, is a stately neo-Renaissance structure that beautifully complements the showcased artifacts.

Collections and Exhibitions

The museum houses an extensive collection, featuring over 12,000 artifacts spanning from prehistoric Japan to the present day.

Visitors can expect to see:

  • Primitive pottery of the Jomon Period
  • Rare Buddhist sculptures from the Asuka and Nara Periods
  • Exquisite calligraphy and paintings from across the centuries

A special mention must be given to the museum’s unrivaled Japanese Buddhist art collection, testament to the significant role played by Buddhism in Japan’s history.

Buddhist Art

With its phenomenal array of Buddhist art treasures, visitors can delve deep into Japanese Buddhism and gain a unique understanding of various periods through stunning sculptures, paintings, and scriptures. Take, for instance, the elegant Heian Period Buddhist sculptures – truly a sight to behold.

Buddhist Art Library
Buddhist Art Library

Visiting the Nara National Museum

Museum Hours (Permanent Collection)
May 1, 2023 (Mon) – July 7, 2023 (Fri) 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
July 8, 2023 (Sat) – September 3, 2023 (Sun) 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

On Saturdays, open until 8:00 p.m.

Addmission Individual
General Admission 700 yen
College Students 350 yen

Free of charge entry to people aged 18 years or younger and high school and below, disabled certificate holders and an accompanying caretaker, people aged 70 years or more.

Must-See Highlights

  1. The Shōsōin Treasures Exhibition: Experience the breathtaking array of artifacts from the Nara period, featuring rare and precious items like Buddhist scriptures, elegant calligraphy, exquisite lacquerware, and intricate textiles. Delve into the rich cultural legacy of Japan’s ancient capital, Nara.

  2. Buddhist Art Collection: Nara National Museum takes pride in its extensive repertoire of Buddhist art. Admire the stunning statues, vivid paintings, and remarkable sculptures that showcase the evolution and impact of Buddhism in Japan. The collection houses masterpieces from various eras and regions across the country.

  3. Japanese Art and Cultural Artifacts: Explore the vast assortment of Japanese art and cultural relics on display at the museum, including striking ceramics, detailed metalwork, rich textiles, and vibrant paintings. Gain insights into the multifaceted aspects of Japanese culture, artistry, and time-honored artistic traditions.

  4. Special Exhibitions: Stay tuned for the Nara National Museum’s specially-curated exhibitions that spotlight unique themes, artists, or historical periods. These captivating exhibitions often feature exclusive loans from other prestigious museums or private collections, granting visitors a rare chance to witness significant artworks.

  5. Garden and Architecture: Immerse yourself in the architectural wonder that is the museum building itself, designed in the timeless Japanese style and enveloped by a serene garden landscape. Soak in the peaceful ambiance and cherish the harmony between nature and architecture.

Nearby Attractions

While you’re in Nara, make sure to check out our other articles on nearby attractions like Todai-ji Temple, Isuien Garden, and Nara Deer Park.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is photography permitted inside the Nara National Museum?

As a general rule, photography is not allowed within the museum to protect the artworks and maintain a tranquil atmosphere. However, certain designated areas or exhibitions might permit photography. It's best to adhere to the museum's guidelines and consult the staff for any clarifications.

Which renowned artworks are displayed at the museum?

Housing a vast collection of Buddhist art and cultural artifacts, the Nara National Museum showcases prominent works such as ancient statues, Buddhist scriptures, elegant calligraphy, and paintings by acclaimed artists. Specific exhibitions may feature varying artworks.

What is the most convenient way to reach the Nara National Museum from Kyoto?

To make your way to the Nara National Museum from Kyoto, simply take a train from Kyoto Station to Nara Station. From Nara Station, the museum is just a short walk or a quick bus ride away.

Are accommodations available close to the museum?

Indeed, several hotels and accommodations can be found in the vicinity of the Nara National Museum. Nestled within Nara Park, a popular tourist destination, there are a variety of lodging options to choose from.

Does the museum host special exhibitions or events?

Certainly! Throughout the year, the Nara National Museum organizes special exhibitions and events featuring unique collections, themes, or partnerships with other institutions. To stay updated on the latest happenings, keep an eye on the museum's website.

Does the Nara National Museum offer accommodations for disabled individuals?

The museum prioritizes accessibility for all visitors and offers facilities like wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and elevators to different floors. Museum staff are also available to assist visitors with special needs.

Can I purchase souvenirs at the museum's gift shop?

Yes, the museum's gift shop has a variety of souvenirs, such as art prints, books, postcards, and traditional crafts, allowing visitors to take home a commemorative token of their visit.

Does the Nara National Museum offer guided tours?

Yes! Guided tours are available at the museum, allowing visitors an enriching experience. Don't hesitate to inquire at the information desk for further details.

What am I prohibited from bringing into the museum?

Large bags, food, and drinks are not allowed inside the museum in order to preserve the artworks and maintain a peaceful environment. It's a good idea to check the museum's website or reach out to them directly to obtain a complete list of prohibited items.

Is a cloakroom or locker room available at the museum?

Yes, the museum offers a secure cloakroom or locker room to store your belongings while you visit.

Can I buy Nara National Museum tickets in advance?

Advance purchase of tickets for certain exhibitions or events at the Nara National Museum is possible. This option can be accessed through their website, or designated ticketing platforms. It's wise to verify availability and reservation procedures beforehand.

Do the museum provide audio guides or multilingual information brochures?

Offering audio guides and information brochures in multiple languages, including English, Japanese, and occasionally other languages depending on the exhibition, the Nara National Museum is dedicated to enhancing the experiences of all visitors.

Are there age restrictions for museum visitors?

There are no specific age restrictions at the Nara National Museum, which welcomes art lovers of all ages. However, for the safety of the artworks and to maintain a respectful environment, parental guidance is advised for younger children.

Can students, seniors, or other groups avail of special discounts?

Discounted admission fees are typically offered by the museum to students, seniors, and other eligible groups.

Is there a café or restaurant within the museum premises?

Indeed, the museum houses a café or restaurant for visitors to unwind and enjoy refreshments during their visit.

Are there any limitations on sketching or drawing inside the museum?

Preconditions may apply to sketching or drawing inside the museum, depending on the specific exhibition or artwork. We recommend inquiring at the information desk for any guidelines or special provisions related to sketching activities.

Can I book a private event or rent a venue at the Nara National Museum?

With private event options and venue rentals available, the Nara National Museum accommodates special occasions like corporate events, weddings, and social gatherings. For details about availability and booking, get in touch with the museum's administration team.