©Photo by iStock: TkKurikawa

Tokyo’s Top 10 Offbeat Museums

Fashion, Police and Poop?!

By Hilary Keyes
January 11, 2024
Art & Culture, Out & About

Tokyo is packed with informative if unusual museums. Our curated list of offbeat museums dives into unique cultural experiences that redefine the ordinary.

Tokyo, being the largest urban area in the world, is naturally also home to some of the most incredible museums and art galleries on the planet. You can spend a week here and still not see everything this city has to offer in terms of cultural experiences.

That being said, what if going to your so-called standard museums isn’t really your thing? What if your interests are more niche than that? Tokyo has definitely got you covered.

Please note, that not all of these museums are appropriate for children, so please look at their websites/exhibits carefully before making your plans.

The Police Museum

© Photo by Flickr: nagi usano

Covering six full floors, the Police Museum explores the history and work of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. You can check out real patrol cars, police motorcycles and the cockpit of a Harukaze helicopter too, as well as other interactive exhibits in Japanese and English (with audio guides in English, Korean and Mandarin Chinese).

  • Hours: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (Last entry 3:30 p.m.)
  • Closed: Mondays (if a holiday, closed Tuesday instead); end of the year
  • Admission: Free
  • Address: 3-5-1 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

The Japan Stationery Museum

The Japan Stationery Museum© Photo by iStock: hichako
Tools of calligraphy

A small, entirely Japanese museum, the Japan Stationery Museum is home to everything from ancient Mesopotamian tablets and Egyptian papyrus to modern Japanese typewriters with interchangeable kanji keys.

Tokyo Waterworks Historical Museum

Tokyo Waterworks Historical Museum© Photo by Tokyo Waterworks Historical Museum

The Tokyo Waterworks Historical Museum traces the over 400-year history of Edo (now Tokyo)’s waterworks and includes replicas of traditional homes from the Edo period and even one of the largest cast iron pipes in Japan.

  • Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (Last entry 4:30 p.m.)
  • Closed: 4th Monday of the month (if a holiday, closed Tuesday instead); end of the year
  • Admission: Free 
  • Address: 2-7-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

World Bags & Luggage Museum

World Bags & Luggage Museum© Photo by World Bags & Luggage Museum

Opened by Ace, a bag and luggage manufacturing company, here you can learn all about the history and development of indispensable accessories. They also have some truly rare, historical items now, such as purses made from peacock feathers.

Unko Museum (Poop Museum)

Unko Museum (Poop Museum)© Photo by Unko Museum (Poop Museum)

Located on the second floor of DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, the Unko (Poop) Museum is a fun but informative place to learn all about and maybe feel less self-conscious about this biological function.

  • Hours: Weekdays 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (Last entry 7 p.m.), Holidays 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Last entry 8 p.m.)
  • Closed: None (refer to their site for special end-of-the-year hours)
  • Admission: Varies by date; Adult: ¥1,900-¥2,600, Child: ¥900-¥1,000, Free for children under three
  • Address: 2F DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, 1-1-10 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo

The Ad Museum Tokyo

If you’re interested in design, advertising, marketing or modern culture, then the Ad Museum Tokyo is the place for you. They’ve got permanent and special exhibits to demonstrate the evolution of advertising from the Edo period to the modern day.

Kabukiza Gallery

Kabukiza Gallery© Photo by Kabukiza Gallery

Going to a kabuki performance might be difficult given the language and length of performances, but if you visit the fifth floor of Kabukiza Tower, you can see props and costumes and learn a little about its history.

Mitaka Picture Book House

Mitaka Picture Book House© Photo by Mitaka Picture Book House

Located in the Astronomical Observatory Forest of Mitaka’s National Astronomical Observatory, the Mitaka Picture Book House is a community center for kids filled with picture books to look over and special workshops too. There’s also the observatory itself and a museum on the facility’s history nearby as well.

Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum© Photo by Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

If you’re a fan of fashion, interested in the history and design of fabric, or a fashionista at heart, the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum is a must-see. There are no permanent exhibitions here, but they do hold four special exhibitions each year on various themes.

  • Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Last entry 4 p.m.)
  • Closed: Sundays, National Holidays, end of the year, summer holidays (see website)
  • Admission: Adult: ¥500, Student: ¥300, Child: ¥200
  • Address: 3-22-7 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Shunkaen Bonsai Museum

Shunkaen Bonsai Museum© Photo by Shunkaen Bonsai Museum

Established by bonsai master Kunio Kobayashi, Shunkaen is a bonsai garden and museum highlighting his collection and works. You can also take lessons on creating your own bonsai, though these must be booked in advance.

  • Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Closed: Mondays (except for national holidays)
  • Admission: Cash only; ¥1,000 for museum; ¥6,000 for workshops (may vary)
  • Address: 1-29-16 Niihori, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo

What offbeat museums in Tokyo do you enjoy visiting? Let us know in the comments!


Douglas Brooks says:

Is the Tokyo Kite Museum still open? It was a private museum, small but with an excellent collection, including kites by the late National Living Treasure Teizo Hashimoto.

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