A selection of Japan’s strangest ‘museums’

Seen enough views of Mount Fuji and suits of samurai armor? Here are 13 museums that will take you well off the beaten trail.


Illusion Museum

The Collaboration Research Center for Visual Illusion and Mathematical Sciences at the Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences invites you to experience illusions they’ve uncovered over the course of their research and “enjoy their strangeness.”


Paper Museum

Covering over 2,000 years of paper history, this museum features over 40,000 items. It runs papermaking workshops and special exhibitions such as a collection of toys made from paper.


Gas Museum

Yes, gas — the kind you get billed for. Tokyo Gas (the utility) runs a museum that shows the over 100 year history of using gas for lighting and cooking in Japan. Outside you'll find a gas lamp garden with a nostalgic feel.


Tokyo Kite Museum

This place displays about 3,000 decorative kites of a Japanese style that dates from the Edo period. It’s in the same building as a couple of Japanese Western-style food restaurants.


Tokyo Sewerage Museum “Rainbow”

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Sewerage Bureau presents this museum to teach kids about water sanitation. If you visit on the weekend or during school holidays there are hands-on activities and experiments to participate in.


Japan Spinning Top Museum

In addition to displaying tons of tops, the museum offer a license to people who can spin various types and do some tricks. Make sure to call ahead.
Read about the man behind the museum here.


The Sand Museum

Located in the Tottori Sand Dunes, this museum plans exhibitions of works by sand sculptors from around the world. After you check out the art there are areas nearby where you can surf the dunes or ride a camel.


Cupnoodles Museum

Noodle lovers young and old will find something worth slurping at this museum. You can learn about Momofuku Ando, the inventor of the world’s first instant ramen, knead and dry your own Chicken Ramen and practice creative thinking.
Here’s how the JT’s visit went soon after the museum opened.


Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

Established in 1994 as “the world’s first food-themed amusement park.” Here you can sample not only ramen from Japan and beyond, but a nostalgic Showa Era atmosphere complete with old-fashioned dagashiya (snack shop) and slot-car racetrack.


Meguro Parasitological Museum

“Try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear…” It’s hard to keep parasites alive since they live on other animals, but you can see over 300 preserved specimens here. Make sure to hit the gift shop on the way out — you know you want a tape worm t-shirt.
Read more about the parasite museum here or here.


The Cat Museum

Wild cats, skeleton cats, cat art and of course plenty of cat goods for you to buy in the gift shop on the way out.


Ayashii Himitsu Kichi Maboroshi Hakurankai (Strange Secret Base: Phantom Exhibition)

Here it is, the weirdest of the weird. Don’t bring the kids because it’ll probably be too scary. Exhibition zones titled “Is it a dream? Reality? A phantom? Pass through the Showa Era” and “Sick Drunk Alley” mighExt give you an idea of what’s in store . . .  or not.
It has a sister, the Strange Little Boys and Girls Museum.