The Best Museums and Galleries in Nagano

 Get in touch with Nagano's art and culture in museums and galleries around the prefecture. 

Nagano is known for its beautiful mountainous scenery, outdoor activities, and ancient trails. On a sunny day, walking around Kamikochi or walking the Nakasendo is real treat. But what about when the weather doesn’t cooperate and your best laid plans don’t pan out?

Rainy day options include visiting cafés, singing karaoke, or tasting sake at local pubs, but you’d be amiss not to visit some of the museums and galleries around the prefecture, which feature interesting historical artifacts and beautiful paintings of Nagano’s scenic locales.

Spend some of your rainy days brushing up on Japanese history and art in one of Nagano’s many museums.

1. The Hokusai Museum

Entrance to the Hokusai Museum

Katsushika Hokusai is one of Japan’s most famous artists, known throughout the world for his woodblock print “Kanagawa-oki Nami Ura (the Great Wave off Kanagawa).” At one point during his travels he visited the town of Obuse and fell in love, eventually living there for many years. The Hokusai Museum was established in his memory, and many of his works are stored there.

Also in Obuse, Gansho-in Temple features one of Hokusai’s original paintings, which can be seen on the ceiling of its main hall. Its vibrant color, size, and dynamic composition are stunning. It is called the “Happo Nirami Ho’oh-zu (the Phoenix Staring in all Directions).”

The Happo Nirami Ho’oh-zu on the ceiling of Gansho-in in Obuse


Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (until 18:00 during July & August)
Holidays: Dec. 31st, Irregular
Price: Adults/1,000 Yen, Students (HS)/500 Yen, Students (JHS)/300 yen
Address: 381-0201 Nagano-ken, Kamitakai-gun Obuse-machi, Obuse 485
Access: From Nagano Station, take the Nagano Dentetsu train to Obuse Station. From there, a 12-minute walk.
Website: The Hokusai Museum's official website (English)

2. The Matsumoto City Museum of Art

“Maboroshi no Hana” (2002) by Kusama Yayoi

Matsumoto City is the birthplace of Yayoi Kusama, known internationally for her polka-dot-covered works. The Matsumoto City Museum of Art has a permanent exhibition of her work, featuring among others an outdoor sculpture of gigantic, colorful flowers. Even the buses in town are decorated in colorful polka dots!


Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Holidays: Mondays; Dec. 29 to Jan. 02
Price: Adults/410 Yen, Students (HS)/200 Yen, Students (JHS) & Under/ Free
Address: 390-0811 Nagano-ken, Matsumoto-shi, Chuo 4-2-22
Access: From Matsumoto Station, walk 12 minutes or take the East Course Town Sneaker bus.
Website: The Matsumoto City Museum of Art's official website (English)

3. Silkfact Okaya

Exterior of the Silkfact Okaya Museum

During the beginning of the Meiji Period, the people of Okaya created the Suwa silk-reeling machine and the area prospered in silk manufacturing. There are many historical buildings related to the industry in Okaya, and the Silkfact Okaya museum stores important artifacts and machines related to it. The museum is attached to an operating silk mill, and visitors can see silk cultivation from silk worm breeding to silk spinning.

At Silkfact Okaya, you can see live silk-spinning demonstrations at the adjoining Miyasaka silk factory.


Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Holidays: Wednesdays; Dec. 29 to Jan. 3
Price: Adults/500 Yen, Students (HS, JHS)/300 Yen, Students (ES) & Under/150 Yen
Address: Nagano-ken, Okaya-shi, Goda 1-48
Access: From JR Okaya Station, a 20-minute walk.
Website: Silkfact Okaya's official website (Japanese)

4. The Sanada Treasures Museum

Exterior of the Sanada Treasures Museum.

The Sanada clan, which was featured in the NHK Taiga Drama Sanada Maru, ruled the domain of Ueda, and later the Matsushiro area until the beginning of the 20th century. At the Sanada Treasures Museum in Matsushiro, you can see samurai armor, weapons, and articles of everyday life used by Japanese people during the Edo Period. Matsushiro is home to a number of Sanada historical sites, like the Sanada-tei residence and the Bunbu Military Academy.

The armor of Sanada Nobuyuki


Hours: 9:00-17:00
Holidays: Tuesdays
Price: Adult/600 Yen, Children/200 Yen
Address: 381-1231 Nagano-ken, Nagano-shi, Matsushiro-machi, Matsushiro 4-1
Access: From Nagano Station, take the Matsushiro bus to Matsushiro Station. A 3 min. walk.
Website: The Sanada Treasures Museum's official website (English)

5. The Takahashi Mayumi Museum of Doll Art

The Takahashi Mayumi Museum of Doll Art

This museum is dedicated to the work of Takahashi Mayumi, who creates lifelike figures of Japan’s elderly countryside residents. These adorable dolls show slices of everyday life in Japan’s rural areas, from scenes of farming to socializing with neighbors.

Display of Takayashi Mayumi’s life-like dolls


Hours: 9:00-17:00 (10:00-16:00 from Dec. to Mar.)
Holidays: Wednesdays; New Year’s
Price: Adults/610 Yen, Children/410 Yen
Address: 389-2253 Nagano-ken, Iiyama-shi, Iiyama 2941-1
Access: a 5 min. walk from JR Kita-Iiyama Station
Website: The Takahashi Mayumi Museum of Doll Art's official website (English)

6. Mizuno Museum of Art

Southeastern Exterior of the Mizuno Museum of Art

This museum south of Nagano City is home to a large collection of traditional Japanese artworks, from ukiyo-e portraits of women in kimono to shimmering landscapes on golden screens. Another feature of the museum is its beautiful landscape garden which can be viewed from comfortable benches inside the museum.

“Kanzashi” (1938) by Uemura Shoen


Hours: 9:30 to 17:30 (until 17:00 from Nov. to Mar.)
Holidays: Mondays; most of Dec.
Price: Adults/800 Yen, Children/600 Yen, Elementary School & Under/300 Yen
Address: 380-0928 Nagano-ken, Nagano-shi, Wakari 6-2-20
Access: From Nagano Station, 10 min. by bus on the Nagaden Nisseki line or Nisseki, Matsuoka, Otsukaminami line.
Website: Mizuno Museum's official website (Japanese)

7. Kawamoto Kihachiro Puppet Museum

Exterior of the Kawamoto Kihachiro Puppet Museum

Iida was long a meeting point of Japan’s east and west, and was well known for its puppetry. Nowadays, the city holds a puppetry festival every summer where local and international troops stage performances. The Kawamoto Kihachiro Puppet Museum is dedicated to one such puppeteer who was enamored with the festival and helped create the NHK Puppet Theater series of “Sankokushi (Annals of the Three Kingdoms).” The museum houses a number of animations from the show, as well as 53 of the puppets used in production. The highly detailed puppets and costumes are a sight to behold.

Dolls featured in the NHK puppet drama “Sankokushi”


Hours: 9:30 to 18:30
Holidays: Wednesdays; New Year’s
Price: Adults/400 Yen, Children/200 Yen
Address: 395-0044 Nagano-ken, Iida-shi, Honmachi 1-Chome 2-Banchi
Access: From JR Iida Station, a 12 min. walk.
Website: Kawamoto Kihachiro Puppet Museum's official website (Japanese)

8. Nagano Prefectural Art Museum and Higashiyama Kaii Gallery

Formerly known as the Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum, the Nagano Prefectural Art Museum reopened on April 10th, 2021. It is composed of two buildings: the main building, which hosts numerous exhibitions and events; and the Higashiyama Kaii Gallery, which displays and stores the works of the artist Higashiyama Kaii (1906-1999), considered a master of Japanese-style painting.

The museum’s collection features the works of artists with connections to Nagano, as well as works of Nagano’s picturesque landscapes. Many of Higashiyama Kaii’s paintings prominently feature areas of Nagano, such as Mishaka Pond in Tateshina. Both the museum’s collection and the Higashiyama Kaii Gallery collection are included in the price of admission.

There are also many areas of the museum that are free to enter, such as the rooftop terrace with views over Joyama Park and Zenkoji Temple.


Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (last entry 16:30)
Holidays: Wednesdays; Dec. 28 to Jan. 13
Price: Adults/700 Yen, College Students & Seniors/500 yen, High School Students & Below/Free
Address: 1-4-4 Hakoshimizu, Nagano City, Nagano Pref. 380-0801
Access: From Nagano Station, take the #11, 16, 17, or 21 bus and get off at the Zenkoji Kita bus stop.
Website: Nagano Prefectural Art Museum's official website (English)


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