Tobacco & Salt Museum

Visiting address

Chome-16-3 Yokokawa 1 - Sumida
130-0003 Tokyo



Two subjects that don’t seem to have anything in common: tobacco and salt. The reason that collections on both themes are brought together in one museum is the state monopoly on both goods. The museum was founded by the Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation and opened in 1978 in the Shibuya district in Tokyo. Since 2015 this location has been changed into an impressive museum building with modern, high majestic spaces in the district of Sumida. It is part of a large complex of the research department of the tobacco company. Two floors are dedicated to both themes, salt on the second floor and tobacco on the forth, in between is an exhibition floor for temporary presentations.


The tobacco story is told chronologically starting with prehistoric times in Mesoamerica. Pièce de milieu is a replica of the Palenque temple with the image of the famous smoking god. Beautiful representative pipes illustrate the smoking culture in this area. The next space is dominated by imposing showcases with all kinds of tobacco pipes that show the habit of tobacco consumption in all continents. Europe is treated per material group with display cases devoted to meerschaum, briar and clay. For the American Indians one mega showcase has been reserved with beautiful ceremonial pipes.

Points of note in the presentation are the history of pipe smoking in the Edo period in Japan with its characteristic kiseru, the metal pipe, and the specific pipe holder or kiserusutsu and  the tobacco pouch or tabakoire. Special attention is paid to the kiseru-tobacco with its strange fine fibrous cut, complete with a special cutting machine where you see how this tobacco is carved, finer than human hair.

The presentation ends with an overview of packaging and advertising forms that illustrate twentieth-century smoking. From the year 1900 the focus shifts to the design of the paper tobacco packaging. The graphic design of advertisements and balanced tobacco packaging dominates over the subtle art of the pipes and leather or fabric tobacco bags from the previous century. With this change, the Japanese atmosphere disappears from the smoking equipment and makes way for flashy American advertisements. This shift in fashion can clearly be seen along an immense wall on the basis of packaging, advertising and shop signs. The exhibition closes with a tobacco shop from the second half of the twentieth century. In the meantime the smoking ban has also reached Japan, smoking on the streets is no longer allowed.

Opening hours
Daily 10 am - 6 pm Entrance allowed up to 17:30

Monday closed
When a national holiday or a substitute holiday falls on a Monday, the museum is open as usual, and closed on the following day instead.

Closed: 29 December - 3 January (New Year holiday)

Admission prices
Adults        100 yen  
> 65 years   50 yen
childern       50 yen  (also pupils of primary, juniorhigh and high schools)

free with memberschip card of ICOM and Japanese Museum Association
Free with Annual Free Pass (500yen)