The National Museum of Japanese History, known popularly in Japanese as Rekihaku, is a general museum of Japanese history that houses and displays some 200,000 artifacts of historical importance and cultural value that together help to tell the story of Japan's past. In developing its galleries, Rekihaku has endeavored to produce concrete, visual exhibits that facilitate an understanding of Japanese history and culture, relying on both the numerous authentic artifacts in its collection,and precise reproductions and scale models. As member of an inter−university research consortium, Rekihaku also serves as a center for research and graduate study, participating in exchanges with scholars nation-wide,and providing training to students enrolled in its graduate program.

Three scholarly disciplines inform Rekihaku's approach to Japanese history. One is history, in the strict sense, relying principally on written records and other documentary materials; the second, archaeology, studies the material remains of past human activity as they emerge from excavations; the third is folklore, which examines the folk customs and lore that are still a part of people's lives today. Together with related scientific techniques,these three disciplines of History, Archaeology, and Folk Studies form the basis of the multidisciplinary and integrative understanding of Japanese history that is the common goal of the Rekihaku staff of scholars. It is an understanding of Japanese history that Rekihaku seeks to share with the general public and scholars elsewhere through its exhibitions, publications, and other channels of communication.

Rekihaku was founded in 1981, and opened its exhibit doors in 1983. The permanent exhibitions currently span five galleries subdivided into a total of twenty-five topics,with an emphasis on the history of everyday life among ordinary people. Rekihaku is also discussing plans to restructure its standing exhibitions, including the addition of a number of entirely new exhibits. And since 1999,Rekihaku has offered a doctoral program in Japanese History as a member of Sokendai,the Graduate University for Advanced Studies.

In accordance with the National University Corporation Law, Rekihaku has been redesignated as the National Museum of Japanese History, National Institutes for the Humanities, Inter-University Research Institute Corporation since 2004.
At the dawn of the 21st century, Rekihaku remains committed to its twin goals: to serve both as a museum cherished by the public and as a research institute at the vanguard of the academy.

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