Japan has a lot of beauty – the cherry blossoms, hot springs, stunning mountains and temples – but it also has plenty of quirks. You may know of the classics, like spending time in a photo booth plastering strange bug-eyed emojis to your pictures, but it gets much, much more bizarre.
Museums in Japan can be dedicated to just about anything you can think of, from the weird and wonderful to the strange and gross. Here are a few we’ve rounded up that we guarantee are worth your visit!
The Shinyokohama Ramen Museum
No doubt when in Japan, you’ll be eating a lot of delicious foods like noodles and ramen (and if you weren’t planning on it, get it on your list now). How better to experience Japan’s love of noodles than with a stop at the Ramen Museum, where you can taste a wide variety of ramen and even make your own – complete with personalized packaging.
Address: 2-14-21 Yokohama, Kanagawa 222-0033
Nearest Metro Station: Shin-Yokohama
Hours: 11:00am to 10:00pm, (closed Sundays)
Admission: 310 yen for adults, 800 yen for an annual pass
Gross yourself out at the Parasite Museum by looking at over 300 different parasite specimens, from tapeworms to leeches. Haven’t you always wanted to see an 8.8 metre tape worm? Don’t eat anything before this visit – you’re bound to regret it. Word of advice: don’t take a date here.
Address: 4-1-1, Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-0064
Nearest Metro Station: Meguro
Hours: 10:00am-5:00pm (closed Mondays and Tuesdays)
Not so much a completely bizarre museum, but definitely a rite of passage when it comes to Japanese culture, the Ghibli Museum is a dedicated space for showcasing animation from Studio Ghibli, best known for films like Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro. The museum is designed in the style of their films, explains the history of animation and shows short movies exclusive to the museum. Try not to get too sad when you can’t frolick in the under-12 playground.
Address: 1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo, 181-0013
Nearest Metro Station: Mitaka (there’s a bus that can take you right to the museum for 210 yen)
Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm (closed on most Tuesdays)
Admission: 1,000 yen – check their website for how to buy tickets in advance
Sand Museum – Tottori Sand Dunes
With stunning, intricately detailed and larger than life sand sculptures, this museum will blow your mind. Better than any local sandcastle competition you’ve ever seen, these pieces of art depict anything and everything from Machu Picchu to the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. As this museum is located in the Tottori Sand Dunes, you can finish off the visit with some sandboarding or camel-riding.
Address: 2083-17 Yuyama, Fukube-cho, Tottori City, Tottori
Nearest Metro Station: Tottori
Admission: 600 yen
Trick Art Museum
If there’s any museum that’ll bring out the kid in you, this is it. Whether you’re pretending you’re trapped in a glass held by a vampire, getting eaten by a shark or holding a massive sushi roll, there’s all kinds of photo opportunities to take advantage of that will leave your followers begging for more.
Address: 4F Decks Tokyo Beach Island Mall, 1-6-1 Minato
Nearest Metro Station: Odaiba-Kaihinkoen
Admission: 900 yen
Welcome to the world’s first ever kite museum, full of collections of vividly decorated kites in all shapes and sizes, with hand-painted dragons, faces and butterflies. It puts Mary Poppins to shame. The museum is located above the popular restaurant, Taimeiken so you treat yourself after a day spent learning about kites.
Address: 1-12-10, Nihonbashi, Chuo
Nearest Metro Station: Nihonbashi
Hours: 11:00am-5:00pm (closed Sundays)
Admission: 200 yen
Dedicated to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, visitors can learn about the dying washi (Japanese paper) process and walk around the gallery at this exhibition center. At their workshop, you have a shot at making your own origami souvenir to take home (or buying one in the store and pretending you’re a paper-folding master).
Address: 1-7-14 Yushima, Bunkyo
Nearest Metro Station: Ochanomizu
Hours: 9:30am-6pm (closed Sundays)
Museum of Sewerage
Obviously you’ve spent a ton of time thinking, “Hey, you know what I wish I knew more about? Sewage.” So, as luck has it, Japan’s one step ahead of you – there is indeed a museum teaching you all about how sewage works. Whether you’d be tempted to go here or not, you’ve got to admire Japan’s ability to think outside the bog… sorry, I mean box.
Address: 1-25-31 Jousuihoncho, Kodaira
Nearest Metro Station: Takanodai
Hours: 10am-4pm (closed Mondays)
Admission: Free (extra motivation to visit?)
Featured image by Camille Tries to Blog