National Archives of Japan & National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

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On Friday, June 2, 2023, I visited the National Archives of Japan and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Located next to each other, both museums can easily be seen in the same morning or afternoon. Both are located across from the Imperial Palace as well. The palace’s hours can be viewed using the attached link: The National Archives is open from 9:15 AM – 5 PM Tuesday-Saturday and is closed on national holidays including from December 28 to January 4. The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo is open from 10 AM – 5 PM Tuesday-Thursday & Sunday and 10 AM – 8 PM Friday-Saturday. The National Museum of Modern Art is closed on Mondays.


The National Archives of Japan opened on July 1, 1971, and aims to preserve historical materials while providing them for public use. The current exhibit at the National Archives is about Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first Sei-i Taishōgun (shōgun) of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan. The Tokugawa Shogunate ruled over Japan from 1603 to 1867. Ieyasu ruled as Shōgun from 1603-1605 but remained in power as the head of the Tokugawa clan until his death in 1616. The country of Japan is very focused on Ieyasu in 2023 due to the NHK historical drama television show What Will You Do, Ieyasu? airing throughout the year.

What Would You Do Ieyasu?

Mr. Kozo Yamamoto, JTAST Chairman and former Ministry of Finance official, and I arrived at the National Archives at around 2:45 PM. We were led through the National Archives, by a museum tour guide starting at 3 PM. We observed multiple exhibits containing Ieyasu’s journals detailing his travels and life.

Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

After spending about 45 minutes at the National Archives, we walked over to the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. The museum opened in Kyobashi, Chuo ward on December 1, 1952, as Japan’s first national art museum. The museum moved to its current location of Kitanomaru Park, Chiyoda ward in 1969. The museum features multiple floors of art from around the world showcasing different styles used from the 19th century to today. The museum is rather large and easily takes about two hours to see every exhibit.


Overall, my visit to the National Archives of Japan and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo were very informative and I learned about different styles of art throughout modern Japanese history. As a foreigner and an English speaker, I enjoyed the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo more than the National Archives of Japan due to information about the art being presented in English alongside Japanese.

I recommend that English speakers definitely check out the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo due to information being readily available in multiple languages. As for the National Archives of Japan, the artifacts on display are very interesting and important to Japanese history, but they are only offered in Japanese.


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