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Quite simply, this is Tokyo's top museum, if not all of Japan's. It has the largest collection of Japanese art and antiquities in the world, making it the single best place to see lacquerware, metalwork, pottery, old kimono, samurai armour, swords, scrolls, screens, ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), calligraphy, ceramics, and more. And that's just the main building (The Japanese Gallery). Other galleries display Japanese archaeological finds, art from other Asian countries, priceless treasures from Nara, and special exhibitions. As Japan's oldest museum, founded in 1872 and moving to Ueno Park in 1882, it has amassed an inventory of more than 113,000 objects, with about 3,000 items on display at any one time, which means there's always something new to see every time you visit. Schedule a morning or afternoon to visit all the galleries, but barring that, concentrate on the Japanese Gallery with its 24 exhibition rooms, which you can see in one or two hours depending on your interest. I also recommend browsing its basement museum shop for reproductions of its collection's masterpieces and traditional crafts by contemporary artists. The Japanese Gallery (Honkan), straight ahead after you enter the main gate, provides a thorough introduction to Japanese antiques and art, with comprehensive displays of Japanese ceramics; Buddhist sculptures dating from about a.d. 538 to 1192; samurai armor, helmets, and decorative sword mountings; swords, which throughout Japanese history were considered to embody spirits all their own; textiles and kimono; lacquerware; ceramics; and paintings, calligraphy, ukiyo-e, and scrolls. It also includes sections on the indigenous Ainu in Hokkaido and the Ryukyu heritage of the Okinawan islands. If time allows, I also highly recommend a tour of the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures (Horyuji Homotsukan), which displays priceless Buddhist treasures from the Horyuji Temple in Nara, founded by Prince Shotoku in a.d. 607. Although it seems incongruous that antiquities should find a home in a building as starkly modern as this, low lighting and spacious displays allow the bronze Buddhist statues, ceremonial Gigaku masks used in ritual dances, lacquerware, textiles, and paintings to shine like the jewels they are. The Asian Gallery (Toyokan) is the place to go for art and archaeological artifacts from surrounding Asian regions, including China, Korea, Southeast and Central Asia, India, and Egypt. Chinese art—from jade and paintings to calligraphy, and ceramics—makes up the largest part of the collection, a reflection of China's tremendous influence on Japanese art, architecture, and religion through the ages. Although exhibitions change, other items frequently on display include Buddhas from China and Gandhara, stone reliefs from Cambodia, embroidered wall hangings and cloth from India, Iranian and Turkish carpets, Thai and Vietnamese ceramics, and Egyptian relics, including a mummy dating from around 751 to 656 b.c. and wooden objects from around 2000  b.c. The Heiseikan Gallery houses archaeological relics of ancient Japan, including pottery and Haniwa clay burial figurines of the Jomon Period (10,000 b.c.–1000 b.c.) and ornamental, keyhole-shaped tombs from the Yayoi Period (400 b.c.–a.d. 200). Finally, the Hyokeikan, built in 1909 to honor the wedding of Emperor Taisho, has occasional special exhibitions.