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Goin’ Japanesque!

The Otsuka Museum of Art: Why It’s Popular Even When All the Artwork is Fake

Introducing a one and only museum that is definitely worth the trip; everything that is housed in this museum is fake (or in fact a replica), yet everyone leaves feeling very satisfied. What’s their secret? Photo:


About the Ōtsuka Museum of Art



It is an art museum that was built in Naruto of Tokushima Prefecture by the Japanese corporation, Ōtsuka Pharmaceuticals Group. When it first opened in 1998, it was the largest art museum in Japan (Total area of about 30,000 ㎡, now it ranks the second largest). They exhibit over 1,000 pieces of renowned works owned by about 190 art museums in the world. It is a tourist destination that is extremely popular among tourists from overseas as well. Information: Map


Characteristics of the Ōtsuka Museum of Art

  • All are true-to- size replicas
  • Highest admission fee in Japan (3,240 Yen)
  • Vast area with a walking tour that would stretch about 4 km long
  • Photography and gentle touching are allowed

The most distinctive feature is of course that the artworks here are all replicas. The precision is extreme; the artwork is replicated to the finest details. Because all of the works are created using ceramic plates and thus can be preserved for future generations to study, it is held in high regards globally for its contribution to academia. It is said that works made in ceramic plates can be preserved for over 2,000 years retaining their original condition. Depending on the work, there are those that have been preserved in better conditions than the original artwork they were created to imitate.

Additionally, because they are replicas and not the original, there is no barrier between the viewer and the artwork such as ropes or glass cases. Taking photographs, examining up close and even gentle touching that would usually never be allowed with the original pieces, are allowed here. This makes it a very unique museum in the world.


The Masterpieces


The entrance is 4 levels underground so you start by taking a looong escalator up. The actual exhibit space extends from the 3rd basement level to 2 levels above ground.

3rd Basement Level

Michelangelo’s Painting of the Sistine Chapel,

The first thing that comes into view is this dynamic Sistine Chapel Hall, sure to be mindboggling. The size, space and everything else is replicated. To find a piece of artwork that basically cannot be moved, spread out right in front of your eyes in Japan must give you a strange feeling.

Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel

2nd Basement Level

Comparison of Leonardo Da Vinci’s the Last Supper

The currently existing original of The Last Supper has gone under a restoration process. However, here is a replica of the work prior to its restoration. You can see the comparison between the before and after. The Ōtsuka Museum of Art is the only place where you can see the Last Supper before its restoration.

The Last Supper Before Restoration

The Last Supper After Restoration

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa,

Of course there’s the ever so famous Mona Lisa.

Monet’s Water Lilies

In order to show Monet’s work as he intended; that the work should be seen under natural light, the work is displayed outdoors. In the surrounding pond of Monet, there are water lilies abloom.

Monet’s Water Lilies

The original would never be allowed under sunlight, but here, they can, because their version is made of ceramic plates.

1st Basement Level

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Jacques-Louis David’s Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine

1st Level

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica,


Though this is the art museum with the highest admission fee in Japan, those that have actually been there all say that it is “not expensive at all, and the experience is worth even more.” Another way to enjoy the experience would be to find a masterpiece you like in the Ōtsuka Museum of Art and then travel around the globe to see the original. The Ōtsuka Museum of Art, where you can visit just one museum and feel like you have had a tour around the world is highly recommended. Do try to set aside enough time to enjoy the masterpieces. Just be warned that one day may actually not even be enough time.

Related: Other Museum Articles

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