Nara National Museum: Amazing Buddhist Art

The Nara National Museum:  A Treat for Art Lovers

Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 794, and is most famous for the friendly deer which roam the giant Nara Park, and for the large statue of Buddha. Pretty much everything there is to see and do in Nara is either in or near to the park, including the main museum which hosts a fantastic array of Buddhist art.

As this city was an ancient capital, it has a vibrant history, and there is much to learn about this place.

Is it Worth Visiting?

The museum has been open since 1895, although it has expanded since then and recent renovations have provided even more for visitors to enjoy. A real museum-lover could probably spend all day in the complex, but if you only have an hour or two then that’s enough to see at least the main exhibition.


What You Can See There

The main building is called the “Buddhist Sculpture Hall” and is where you can see Buddhist statues from the Asuka period right up to the Kamakura period. Being the oldest part of the museum complex, this building recently underwent renovations to bring it up to date and restore its original features.

Next door is a gallery of ritual bronzes with pieces from the Chinese Yin and Han dynasties.

Nara National Museum BuildingThe East Wing is where the museum houses special exhibitions. You should check before your visit to see what temporary artifacts will be on show.

Examples of some of the exhibits they put on display are the On-Matsuri and the Sacred Art of Kasuga (featured from December 10, 2016 -January 15, 2017) and the Treasures of Tōdaiji’s Omizutori Ritual and Kaikei: The Great Master of Buddhist Sculpture. Check the Nara National Museum website for more information.

The general exhibition is displayed in the West Wing of the museum, and it includes Buddhist art which dates back to 538, with relics such as paintings, decorative ornaments from temples, ritual implements, sculptures, manuscript and hand scrolls.


Museum Hours

Open daily from 9:30am to 5:00pm

*There are extended opening times if there is a special event or exhibition so check ahead to plan your visit.


Admission Fees

520 yen for adults

260 yen for college students

Students under 18: free

Admission is also free on certain festival days, such as International Museum Day and Children’s Day.

At any time, you can view the lower level passageway for free – it’s located beyond the gift shop.


For More Information

Nara National Museum Homepage


How to Get There

The museum is located at the edge of Nara park and, like everywhere in Nara, can easily be reached on foot. Check the website for details, or pick up a free city guide and map in the train station on arrival.

Nara National Museum at Night


Attractions in Nara

Nara National Museum Building
Nara National Museum
Naramachi Monogatari Hall Front
A Town of "Monkeys"
Photo of author

Celia Jenkins

Celia Jenkins has taught English in China, Japan and the UK to students from all over the world. Coming from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, she likes small, quiet places where she can squirrel away and get lost in a book. As well as teaching, she is also a professional writer and part-time knitting enthusiast.

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