日本玩具博物館 / The Japan Toy Museum

Last week, as part of the mid-term culmination, everyone was required to give a short (under 5 mins) presentation in front of the entire CLS class and our teachers, of course completely in Japanese. My class’ assignment for the presentation was to choose a local sightseeing spot/attraction, find information about it using pamphlets, the internet, and the local tourism office, and then share the information with our class in hopes that everyone would be inspired to do a bit of Himeji exploration in our final month. The place I chose to present about was 日本玩具博物館(nihonganguhakubutsukan), which is the Japan Toy Museum, located in a rural town just outside of Himeji. Through my research, I found out that they have about 80,000 toys, not just from Japan, but from all over the world. I chose it because I was genuinely interested in going, and planned to go on the weekend, even if I had to go alone. However, it turned out that many of my classmates developed an interest in the toy museum, because we ended up gathering a group of 15 or so people (and some buddies), and went together!

I was lucky that I got to ride in a car to the museum, thanks to Chihiro’s mom offering to take us in her minivan, so I didn’t have to deal with finding the place on foot. When we arrived, I couldn’t believe how quaint the place was! When we entered, it was clear truly how many toys they had in the collection!

There were so many display cases filled with toys! They had some really old ones, but also modern toys, like the Astro Boy figures (etc) you see above. They also had some traditional toys out that visitors were allowed to play with. We tried to use them, but clearly didn’t know how, so the buddies helped us out a little bit. The owner of the museum, noticing our group, came over and also showed us how to use the toys. After that he even took the time to show us around and tell us lots of additional information about the collections. He was truly a very nice ojiisan. I think it must have been a long time since a bunch of foreigners showed up at his museum!

The owner of the museum happened to be an expert in the art of chirimen crafts, which are these little stuffed forms and hanging decorations. He showed us a book all about how to sew chirimen crafts, which, as it turns out, he wrote himself!

A particularly interesting section of the museum was the display case full of traditional Japanese dolls. They are so creepy.

Here are some more pictures of toys that I found particularly interesting.

I love small art objects. Obviously I understand why these toys are all kept in cases, but some of them I really wish I could handle! They are made to play with after all. It was very inspirational to see so many beautiful objects from around the world. It was also interesting to think about how children may have played with some of these things. Many of them were like dolls, and became little characters, but others seemed like puzzle games. There were so many toys that there was no way for each one to have individual information posted, but I wish I could know more!

Another great thing about the museum is that the spaces inbetween each of the 6 buildings is occupied by an adorable little garden.

We stayed at the museum until it closed at 5pm, and then began the journey home. For the return trip I walked to the nearby train station (which was a good 15-20 minute walk, through neighborhood), and then a 20-30 minute train ride home. It was hot out, but I had fun adventuring with my fellow CLSers.

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