Over the several thousand years of its existence, Japan has developed extremely rich culture and art, which, at the same time, is completely different from those of Europe. Thus, in order to better understand the specificity of the Land of the Rising Sun, it is worth going to at least one of the many museums you can find there. Such a trip will teach you the mentality, customs and values of Japanese people, as well as the history of this country.

Many Japanese customs and traditions not only intrigue us, but also often make us smile. Only by getting to know the cultural heritage that Japan has accumulated for thousands of years will you be able to better understand and fall in love with a country in which tradition and modernity exist in perfect harmony. Find out which museums are worth visiting during your stay on this unusual island.

The Kyoto National Museum

It is one of the three imperial art museums. So far, it has managed to collect about 12,000 different exhibits and works by the many Japanese artists. Although only half of the exhibits are available for viewing, it is worth spending a whole day there.

The museum has a number of paintings, fabrics, ceramic vessels, objects made of wood and metal, as well as other archaeological artefacts, which were acquired from the local areas. The available exhibits make it possible for you to get to know old Japan and to travel back in time. You can learn about Asian art from the longest Japanese period of Heian, which ran from 794 to 1185. You will also see a collection of ancient Japanese and Chinese sutras, i.e. religious books containing Buddha’s teachings, as well as stunning paintings of landscapes from the 11th century. You will not get bored during this trip, as more than 230 of the exhibits available in the Museum have been recognised as national treasures.

Samurai and Ninja Museum Kyoto

This place is worth recommending to all fans of samurai and ninja. Martial arts enthusiasts will find there the most interesting armour worn by warriors in the Heian, Kamakura, Muromachi, Edo and Meiji periods. What is more, tourists can put on the selected armour and draw a real samurai sword.

The entire building is decorated in the spirit of past eras, so that visitors can feel the atmosphere of old times. The exhibition is enriched by numerous shows performed by ninjas, samurai warriors and sumo wrestlers. One of the rooms is dedicated to the art of tea brewing and allows you to become acquainted with the whole ceremony that accompanies the preparation of one of the most famous Japanese drinks.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Both these museums are among the most moving places in the world. They commemorate two of the greatest Japanese tragedies of the 20th century: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They make it possible to go back in time to the moment when nothing foreshadowed the things to come – the streets were thriving with everyday life and the children were playing in the backyards. The tragedy started on 6 August 1945 at 8:15 a.m., when a 4-tonne atomic bomb fell on the centre of Hiroshima. It claimed around 140,000 victims and hundreds of thousands survivors died as a result of numerous radiation-induced diseases, especially cancer. Three days later, the same tragedy affected Nagasaki.

The museum has prepared a very picturesque exhibition, which allows you to first see and feel the ordinary life of the inhabitants of the 20th-century Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then experience the cruel tragedy together with them. The exhibits which you can see and sometimes even touch are, first and foremost, everyday objects used by the inhabitants: a lunchbox with partly burnt content, a school uniform, sandals, a children’s bicycle, as wall as metal shutters bent by the heat and the extremely moving shadow of a man which became “imprinted” on a stone.

Kobe Earthquake Musuem

Kobe is a very prosperous port city located west of Osaka on Honshu island. It is now a vibrant place, the sixth most populous city in Japan. While walking around the city, it is hard to believe that on 17 January 1995 it was almost completely destroyed by a powerful earthquake. Although the tremors lasted for only 20 seconds and their epicentre was in Awaji, which is situated in the vicinity of Kobe, the catastrophe claimed more than 6,000 lives and turned the city into a ruin. In order to commemorate those events, a memorial was created, which brings closer not only the nature of this tragedy and the extent of destruction, but also the fate of the inhabitants. The role of the museum is also to inform and educate the visitors on how to behave in the event of a natural disaster.

The Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology

All enthusiasts of Asian art and culture, who cannot afford a long journey to the Land of the Rising Sun, may find the Japanese museum in Kraków in Poland interesting.

It all started with Feliks Jasieński, who gathered an extremely large collection of objects, paintings and other works by Japanese artists, including in total over 6,500 items. After his death, the exhibits were given to the National Museum, but due to the lack of space in the museum buildings, they were exhibited only once – in the Kraków Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). Andrzej Wajda fell in love with Japanese art after seeing the collection of Jasieński. It was on his and his wife’s initiative and thanks to the funds accompanying the Kyoto Prize which he received, that, almost half a century after that memorable exhibition, a centre was established, gathering all the Japanese works of art in Poland.

Visiting the most popular Japanese museums will surely allow you to get to know this enigmatic and mentally different country. Each of them perfectly illustrates the diversity and uniqueness of Japan. Undoubtedly, it is worth seeing at least one of the aforementioned places during your stay in the Land of the Rising Sun or Kraków.

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