If you enjoy visiting museums, you likely stop by for what's inside. However, there are plenty of museums in Japan which are well worth the trip for the exterior, too! These five museums have some incredibly unique architecture which is enjoyable to admire in and of itself.

The Museum for Wood Culture, Hyogo

Designed by architecture icon Tadao Ando, the Museum for Wood Culture in Hyogo was inspired by trees and the forest. Inside, you'll find a range of exhibitions dedicated to the role of wood in Japan's history, details about Japanese forests, and even wooden toys. Best of all, admission to this architectural beauty is free!

951 Muraokaku Wachi, Kami, Mikata, Hyogo 667-1347

Wood = good!
Wood = good! (Photo: KishujiRapid / CC By SA 4.0)

Hakone Open Air Museum, Kanagawa

Hakone is home to a number of great museums, and one of the best is the Hakone Open Air Museum. With over a thousand sculptures and paintings, it's a place where you can while away several hours exploring all of the displays. One of the must-sees from a design standpoint is the Symphonic Sculpture of Happiness, which is entirely fitted with stained glass.

1121 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo Bezirk, Kanagawa 250-0407

Beautiful stained glass
Beautiful stained glass (Photo: faux-pasonlinecom / CC By SA 2.0)

Kadokawa Culture Museum, Saitama

This stunning architectural piece is a real newbie, and only soft-opened in August of this year. It was designed by Kengo Kuma and associates, who also designed Tokyo's Nezu Museum and a host of other impressive works. The venue is billed as a complex that combines libraries, art galleries, and museums - a one stop cultural shop!

3 Chome−31, Higashitokorozawawada, Tokorozawa, Saitama, 359-0023

A monolith of a museum!
A monolith of a museum! (Photo: Kaijooo / CC By SA 4.0)

Yamanashi Fruit Museum, Yamanashi

Designed by the architect Itsuko Hasegawa and completed in 1997, the Yamanashi Fruit Museum has a structure that looks something like a giant greenhouse. The museum's exhibition room explores the historical and cultural development of fruit in this region, with a particular focus on Yamanashi's revered grapes and peaches.

1488 Ezohara, Yamanashi City, Yamanashi 405-0043

A unique, greenhouse-like structure
A unique, greenhouse-like structure (Photo: scarletgreen / CC By SA 2.0)

Hoki Museum, Chiba

Chiba's Hoki Museum was opened back in 2010 as the country's first museum dedicated to realist painting. The museum building, however, feels completely unreal! Designed by architects Tomohiko Yamanashi and Taro Nakamoto, it is often referred to as the museum that defies gravity.

3 Chome - 15, Asumigaokahigashi, Midori Ward, Chiba 267-0067

Defying gravity!
Defying gravity! (Photo: yisris / CC By SA 2.0)