Museums. You love them or you hate them, but even if it is the former no cheapo likes those admission fees! Luckily Tokyo’s museums have a little ‘cheat’ that gives you access to most major museums for just ¥2,500! The ‘cheat’ I am talking about is the Grutto Pass. This magic passbook gives you free entry or significant discounts on Tokyo’s most prominent museums, zoos and aquariums.

Most of these attractions tend to charge on average ¥600¥800 entry fee per adult, so you can make your investment back in as little as three visits. The overall value of the pass, however, exceeds almost ¥30,000 in total and you can use it over a period of two months.

National Museum Tokyo
National Museum Tokyo | Photo by Gregory Lane

From the always popular Tokyo Edo Museum to the pandas of Ueno Zoo and the ocean creatures of Tokyo Sea Life Park it is hard to resist such a deal.

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Where to get a Grutt Pass and need-to-knows

You can purchase the pass at any of the participating museums as well as major convenience stores and it’s now also available as a QR code to scan on your phone. The tourist information centers in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Ueno Park and Asakusa also sell the Grutto Pass and will gladly help you in English.

The pass is valid for two months from the day you first use it, so no worries about having to plan things out in a short period of time. Although a day spent hopping from museum to museum might be a nice challenge.

Something you have to take into account is that the pass is non-refundable and cannot be used with any other discounts. Each ticket can only be used once since they remove the ticket stub upon entry. On the other hand it is transferable, so if you are not particularly interested in one museum but you know someone who is, feel free to share. The booklet must remain intact though, so do not detach any of the ticket stubs yourself!

For families with children, it might not be worth buying a pass for them too since museums usually have discounted or no admission for little ones anyways.

Participating major museums

The following museums have participated for several years in a row now, but they might choose to revise their participation. If there are any museums you are particularly looking into, feel free so ask the staff or check out their website in advance.

Edo Tokyo Museum
Edo Tokyo Museum | Photo by Grigoris Miliaresis

And for those cheapo calculators out there, we added the regular adult price in brackets for each of the museums.

National Science Museum
Free entry – permanent exhibitions (Admission saved: ¥620)
¥100 discount (special exhibitions)

National Museum of Western Art
Free entry – permanent exhibitions ( Admission saved:¥430)
Discount for special exhibitions

Tokyo National Museum
Discount of ¥80 – permanent collection, (¥620)
Discount of ¥100 – special exhibitions

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Discount for special exhibitions

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Ueno Royal Museum
Discount for special exhibitions

National Museum of Modern Art
Free entry (Admission varies)

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
Free entry for select exhibits

Meguro Museum of Art
Free entry (varies but about ¥1,000)

Mori Art Museum & Tokyo City View
Discount of ¥300 – entry to Museum and Tokyo City View (varies but ¥1,800 plus)

Edo-Tokyo Museum
Free entry – permanent exhibitions (Admission saved: ¥600)
Discount for special exhibitions

Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
Free entry (Admission saved: ¥400)

Other participating facilities

shoebill at Ueno Zoo
Meet this friendly face at Ueno Zoo. | Photo by iStock.com/yoko_ken_chan

Tokyo Sea Life Park
Free entry (Admission saved: ¥700)

Tama Zoological Park
Free entry (Admission saved: ¥600)

Inokashira Park Zoo
Free entry (Admission saved: ¥400)

Ueno Zoo
Free entry (Admission saved: ¥600)

A sample day out with the Grutt Pass

Exterior of the 'Asakura Choso Museum' (Museum of Sculpture) in Yanaka, Tokyo.  This was the home and studio of sculptor Fumio Asakura and now exhibits his work.
Photo by iStock.com/ColobusYeti

This one-day tour idea focuses on museums that allow free entry with the pass, and with a bit of planning and some itchy feet, you should be able to squeeze in 4-5 museums during the opening hours. Bring a bento or some snacks if you like – there are lots of places along the way to enjoy a picnic.

1. Japanese Sword Museum

Fascinated by all things katana? Get your samurai and sword fix at the Japanese Sword Museum. (Admission saved: ¥1,000)
In the neighborhood: The closest subway station, Sangubashi, is adjacent to Yoyogi Park. As the museum doesn’t open until 10, show up early and have a stroll, grab a bench, have some breakfast.
www.touken.or.jp/english/index.html

2. National Museum of Modern Art

This large museum features both domestic and international pieces of modern art, such as Hishida Shunso’s Nihonga paintings. The pass covers the permanent exhibits only. (Admission saved: ¥600)
In the neighborhood: The Imperial Palace is across the street; the grounds are a lovely place for a walk, a picnic, and for crane-spotting (check the moat).

3. Shitamachi Museum

Shitamachi literally means “downtown”, and this museum shows glimpses of old low-lying Tokyo, before the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and WWII carpet bombing flattened much of the old capital. (Admission saved: 300 yen)
In the neighborhood: sprawling Ueno Park is another prime place for a wander, or check out the old black market at Ameyoko, which is a great spot for street food, bargains on bulk dried fruit, beans, and fell-off-the-truck tracksuits, and dingy little beer and yakitori shacks decorated with paper lanterns that look like they’ve been there since the Showa period.

4. Asakura Museum of Sculpture

See the work of Japanese master sculptor Fumio Asakura, including bronze busts of many iconic Japanese historical figures. The museum is set in his former residence and studio, designed by the artist himself, and built around a Japanese garden. (Admission saved: ¥500)

In the neighborhood: Soak in the Buddhist ambiance at Tennoji and Yanaka cemetery, directly between the museum and Nippori Station.

5. Amuse Museum

At the Amuse Museum in Asakusa, the main focus of the six-story space is textile arts, especially as related to the Japanese peasantry. There are also some nice ukiyo-e (wood block) prints on display here, and workshops, including tea ceremony in English and indigo dyeing, are held onsite. Up top is a rooftop garden with views of Sensoji and the Sky Tree. (Admission saved: ¥1,080)
In the neighborhood: The museum is situated right next to the raucous Sensoji (temple precinct); if you fancy dinner, try one of the 100% pure soba places that the area is known for (basic noodle sets start around ¥700).
www.amusemuseum.com/english/index.html

6. BONUS: Edo-Tokyo Museum


If you’re hitting the museums on a Saturday, The Edo-Tokyo Museum has extended hours until 7:30p.m. The pass gets you admission to the permanent exhibits, which showcase the history, culture, and lifestyle of Edo-era people and the conversion from Edo to Tokyo. (Admission saved: ¥600).
www.tokyocheapo.com/entertainment/edo-tokyo-museum-time-travel-birth-metropolis

Of course, there are endless combinations and lots of niche museums to scratch your particular itch—like the Basho Museum, the Paper Museum, botanical gardens, museums devoted to music, accessories, print art, science, etc. With the Grutt Pass, you could visit a museum a day for two months and still have some to spare!

This post was originally published in Sep 2014 and was last updated in May 2022.

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