In Japan you’ll find an anime museum dedicated to the creator of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, and there’s even a museum that celebrates the invention of the two-minute-noodle. Tracking down these hidden gems is all part of the fun and Aaron Dodson enjoyed toying around in another Tokyo museum…
“Ueno Park is famous for many world-class museums, but it was the small Shitamachi Museum that proved the most interesting and fun for everyone in our Intrepid group. Shitamachi was the traditional downtown area of Tokyo, but this changed with the rebuilding of the city following the end of the Second World War. In an attempt to preserve some of the spirit of the bygone era, this small museum was created by a few dedicated locals.
On the first floor is a reconstruction of the narrow streets that typified old Edo times, including the house of a rich merchant and a more humble tenement house. On the second floor is an exhibition of things used in daily life – anything old and connected to Tokyo can be exhibited here. It includes a captivating section of traditional Japanese toys that visitors are welcome to try their hand at – some easy and some not so easy.
Neighbourhood residents, representing an older generation baffled by Xbox and Playstation, volunteer and clearly enjoy showing young Japanese and the occasional overseas guest how to play the games. It’s a great atmosphere with everything out from behind glass and able to be played with and touched.
The small museum has about 60,000 pieces and rotates them regularly. It’s possible to visit it in less than 30 minutes, but we lingered for over an hour, playing with wooden birds, instruments, cards and fascinating board games dating over 300 years. Tokyo might be famous for neon-flashing game centres that can hold a child’s attention for hours and trap an adult for longer than they would like to admit, but here there are no modern features to the games yet they kept our whole group completely entertained!”
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* photo by Julia Kenny – Intrepid Photography Competition