The museum consists of four galleries: Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall (the main hall) built in 1894; the East Wing and West Wing, which were modeled after the Azekura-zukuri style of Shoso-in; and the Ritual Bronzes Gallery that displays ancient Chinese bronze wares. Dealing mainly with Japanese Buddhist art or craft works, the museum boasts the most extensive collection of Buddhist art among all the museums in Japan. In the permanent exhibition called ”Meihin Ten,” you can take a close look at a large number of Buddhist statues, some of which are National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. And three times a year, the East Wing hosts special exhibitions such as the Shoso-in Exhibition.
Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall—an Important Cultural Property
Nara National Museum was opened in 1895 as Imperial Museum of Nara. The building was Nara's first authentic western-style architecture, designed by a court architect in the Meiji period called Tokuma Katayama. In 1969, the building itself was designated as an Important Cultural Property as the ”Main Hall of the Old Imperial Museum of Nara.”
Meihin Ten—a place to get up close and personal with Buddhist sculptures designated as Important Cultural Properties
Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall has 13 exhibition galleries that display Buddhist sculptures from the Asuka period to the Muromachi period. In the main exhibition gallery, you can enjoy a close look at Buddhist sculptures designated as Important Cultural Properties without the barrier of a glass case. In the 13th exhibition gallery, the ”Collection of Fragments of Buddhist Sculptures C,” features broken-off parts of Buddhist sculptures such as hands and feet.
The East and West Wings have a unified design, built in the Azekura-zukuri style
Both designed by Junzo Yoshimura, the West Wing was built in 1972 and the East Wing followed in 1997. The two buildings were designed in the motif of the takayukashiki-soko (warehouse on stilts) of Shoso-in, which was constructed in the Azekura-zukuri style. They adopt a unified design to create a harmonious landscape.
The Shoso-in Exhibition, an annual exhibition that displays temple treasures of Todai-ji Temple
If you’re in Nara between early October and mid-November, why not visit the annual Shoso-in Exhibition in the East Wing? Adopting a different theme every year, this exhibition displays temple treasures kept in Shoso-in at Todai-ji Temple. Known as a major feature on Nara’s autumn cultural calendar, the exhibition celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2018.
50, Noboriojicho, Nara-shi, Nara, 630-8213
- Nearest Station
･ Kintetsu-nara Line
15 minutes on foot
- Phone Number
050-5542-8600Available languagesonly in Japanese
9:30am - 5:00pm
*On Fridays and Saturdays the Exhibition from the Permanent Collection and Feature Exhibition only are open until 8:00 p.m.*On March 12 we will be open until 7:00 p.m. (due to the Omizutori ritual)
*If a national holiday falls on a Monday, then the following day we are closed.*In case of a consecutive holiday period, we will be closed on the day following the holiday period.*January 1*May be temporarily closed.
- Public Site
- Official Site
Recommended Spots in Area
KiraraNara, Ikoma, TenriTofu
HitenNara, Ikoma, TenriOther Chinese Food
GEIHINKAN NaratenNara, Ikoma, TenriYakiniku
Restaurant & Cafe Pao Naramachi ShopNara, Ikoma, TenriOther Cafes and Sweets
Tenpyoan (Todaiji Temple Branch)Nara, Ikoma, TenriOther Cafes and Sweets
TEN. TEN. CafeNara, Ikoma, TenriOther Cafes and Sweets