The Art Lover’s Guide to Japanese Museums

The first English language guide of its kind to be published in 30 years


Across 176 full-color pages, author and historian Sophie Richard delivers comprehensive insight on over 50 art museums and galleries throughout Japan in her first book “The Art Lover’s Guide to Japanese Museums.” Filled with practical knowledge, interior and exterior photography, plus insider tips learned directly from museum curators and directors, it makes for an essential travel companion for art enthusiasts touring the nation. The guidebook aims to liberate art explorers from the need for an in-person guide—regardless of their art education level. Richard visited over 100 venues nationwide to hone her selections into the most worthwhile, historic and significant—including both public and private establishments—and makes note of the frequency with which each institution changes its collections. The first of its kind, this book is a personal key into the sometimes intimidating, continually inspiring and vast world of Japanese art museums.


Within Japan, roughly 1,087 museums are dedicated to art, with over 500 public art museums; the result of an obsessive boom in the last 50 years. Richard’s passion reflects this—she has been returning to the country once or twice a year for the past decade, all the while publishing articles on Japanese museums and exploring for herself. “There is not a lot of information about Japanese museums that is available in English and if one can read something about them (and this is rare), it is usually through the prism of architecture because they are by a renowned architect,” the author notes to CH. With her book, Richard provides a reason and relevance for each of her selections, deep history and pointers on how the overall system functions. (As if that wasn’t enough, she even shares tips on what to do in each area—outside the museum.) For something so insightful, it’s lightweight, durable and beyond easy-to-navigate, with chapters divided into five regions: Tokyo, Tokyo vicinity, Kyoto and vicinity, the East and the West. Richard explored the rich, wondrous world of Japanese museums so that others can with ease.

“The Art Lover’s Guide to Japanese Museums” is available online from The Japan Society for £18.99.

Photos by David Graver