Let’s Go To The Museum’s 6th Anniversary

Happy 6 years to Let’s Go To The Museum!

This year has been a mediocre year thus far, but that’s because I’ve been missing for these past few months, so no new content equals no viewers. Nevertheless, thank you to all those who have stopped by to look at the content. I hope this blog continues to improve in the future.

I’ve actually traveled quite a bit this year, and have a really long backlog to go through, so I’m hoping to step up my game and put out more than one post a month. However, knowing myself as well as I do, I’m not quite sure I can keep up the pace, but bear with me, the blog will see more content soon, I hope.

Once again, thanks for stopping by and adding to the view count.

 

Advertisements

Ghibli Museum

Another month has come and gone, and I still haven’t really moved my backlog much as I’ve been really focused on other things. Not much happened this month, so let’s continue with Japan…

Ghibli Museum, located in Mitaka, Japan
(三鷹の森ジブリ美術館)

IMG_4082

The Ghibli museum is open Wednesday to Monday from 10am to 6pm. The museum is open on select Tuesdays throughout the year and is also closed for periodic maintenance and holidays, so check out the museum’s website for more information. Admission to the museum is 1000JPY, which is roughly 10USD. Tickets to the museum are timed tickets that must be reserved in advanced as the museum doesn’t sell tickets onsite. Overseas visitors can buy tickets in advance either through the JTB Group or via online sales through Lawson Tickets. If you choose to buy via JTB Group, there is an additional handling fee. If you are already in Japan and haven’t bought tickets yet, you can obtain them at Lawson convenience stores. The Ghibli museum is quite popular, so if it’s on your must-see list, make sure to buy the tickets as early as possible to ensure that they aren’t sold out and that the time slot you want is still available. The museum is accessible via walking and public transportation. One can drive to the museum, too, but there is no visitor’s parking lot nearby, so the museum advises against driving. As always, walking is a possibility and a good choice if you’re already in the area. If you’re not close by then the only option is public transportation, but as already mentioned in the previous post, Japan has a great public transportation system, so it’s no hassle to take the train. To reach the Ghibli museum, take the JR Chuo line to Mitaka station and either walk about 15 mins or take the community bus, which costs 210JPY one-way. The Ghibli museum is located within the Inokashira Park, so if you have extra time after your visit, you can take a stroll through the park and enjoy the greenery.

For anyone who doesn’t know what the Ghibli museum is about, it’s a museum that showcases the works of the Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli (they’re sort of the Japanese version of Disney, in a way), known for anime feature films such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle. (I like their films, my favorite is actually Whisper of the Heart, so the Ghibli Museum was on my must visit list.) The Ghibli museum has a strict no photo policy, so if you’re interested in seeing the insides of the museum, you’ll have to make a visit in person.

The Ghibli museum is a three story maze-like building that contains two permanent exhibits. The first exhibit, “Where a Film is Born”, showcases the creative process of film animators, from the initial inspiration for a film to its completion. Visitors can view various illustrations and drawings in addition to learning the key components to making an animated film. The second exhibit, “The Beginning of Movement”, details the science behind animation by giving visitors a look at how it’s done. The exhibit contains a 3D zoetrope, which is a device that creates the illusion of motion, featuring the characters from My Neighbor Totoro. The museum also has a special exhibit that changes annually. When I visited, the special exhibit focused on food in movies, so there were various illustrations of food and re-creations of famous scenes from the films that involved food.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum contains a reading room that contains children’s literature and picture books, a play room for children that are twelve and under called the Cat Bus Room, and a screening room, the Saturn Theater, which shows an original short animation that is exclusive to the museum. Visitors are permitted to watch the film once during their visit.  Visitors also get a film strip containing a scene from one of the studio’s films as a nice keepsake by exchanging their tickets upon entry. The museum has a rooftop garden that is home to the Robot Soldier, where visitors can pose for pictures (the only place within the museum where pictures are allowed). There is also a gift shop and a cafe, however those are both very crowded as there are lots of people. The cafe, Straw Hat Cafe, is extremely popular among visitors as the cafe serves food that is featured in the films, which is a really fun and creative idea, so of course many people want to say they’ve done it, they went to the Ghibli museum and had the featured food that was in that film. However, do be advised that the wait to get in is extremely long. (My travel companions and I waited nearly 2hrs to get into the cafe, and spent maybe 30 minutes eating because we were famished by the time we got in.) The cafe itself is a cute, averaged sized cafe, has decent food, but the seating is limited and the service was a bit slow, which may have contributed to the long wait. So if you don’t mind waiting in line and want the experience, then go for it, but if you rather spend your time doing something different, then find food elsewhere; the museum has other places to get food.

My travel buddies and I spent five hours at the museum (that’s correct, five hours), but remember that half that time was spent on waiting on the cafe line and eating, so if you don’t eat at the cafe, you’re visit time may be shorten to two to three hours (but as usual, others may spend more or less time depending on interest). The admission for the museum is decent as one can easily spend anywhere between 2-3hrs to a whole day there, as there’s plenty to see. Since the museum is quite large and maze-like, it’s fun to just wander around and see where you end up. The museum is a good family day trip idea as the museum was built with children in mind, there are a lot of activities that cater specifically to children, but still enough material to keep adults entertained; however it should be specified that many of the activities require command of the Japanese language. Thus if you have small children who aren’t all that familiar with the studio’s films, they may not be able to appreciate the references and activities, so it might be better to wait for your children to grow and watch a few films first to truly be amazed at the museum. Anyone interested in anything related to Studio Ghibli or animation films will enjoy a visit. Studio Ghibli films are beloved by many due to their stunning visuals and intricate details that bring life to the stories and settings, so why not visit a real storybook world at the Ghibli Museum.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

Since last month’s second post, I’ve been extremely engrossed in a new game that I bought, to the extent that I only did the essentials, such as sleeping, eating and going to work. So I really thought I wasn’t going to make it in time to post this month, but I made it somehow. It appears that this blog is a hobby that I don’t give up after some time. Finally, something that sticks! Anyways, enough about me, now back to the Japan trip…

Meguro Parasitological Museum, located in Tokyo, Japan
(目黒寄生虫館)

IMG_4078

The Meguro Parasitological Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are welcomed as the museum is privately-funded. The museum is accessible via walking, driving and public transportation. Walking  is always an option, so if you are already nearby or within the Meguro Ward of Tokyo, then walking is a good choice as you can get some exercise and save money. However, if you are further away, then you may want to look into other options of getting to  the museum as the walk can be quite long. The next option is via driving, however there are no parking lots available, so the museum itself doesn’t recommend driving. This leaves most visitors with the last option of public transportation. Some people don’t like public transportation (I, on the other hand, love public transportation), but fear not, Tokyo’s public transportation system is known as one of the best in the world, being efficient, clean and on time, so it’s actually a really good way to reach the museum. At first glance, Tokyo’s subway map may seem complex due to trains being operated by multiple companies, but it’s actually not hard to figure out as there’s plenty of signage to help you out or you can ask the friendly station guards for help. To reach the museum via public transportation, take any metro line that goes to Meguro Station, and then either walk about 15 minutes to the museum or take a bus to the Otori-Jinja Mae bus stop. Other museums nearby include the Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo and the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture or just take a stroll along the Meguro River, as the area is very scenic and is a popular venue for cherry blossom viewing in the spring.

IMG_3978IMG_3980IMG_3984IMG_3985IMG_3988IMG_3991IMG_4069IMG_4072IMG_3994IMG_3996IMG_4002IMG_4004

The Meguro Parasitological Museum is a privately-funded research institution that is housed in a six story building. Of the six floors, only the first two floors are open to the public. The museum consists of two exhibits, one on each of the floors. The first floor’s exhibit is “Diversity of Parasites”, which displays a large variety of parasites, thereby highlighting the diversity of parasites. Much of the signage for the individually labelled specimens are in Japanese, so not much information for the non-Japanese reading visitors. Asides from viewing the large collection of parasite specimens, visitors can learn about parasites that are important to the functions of the human body, various animal parasites and the parasite invasions associated with foreign animals. There’s very limited English signage, so for those who want extra information the museum does have guide book available for purchase in the museum store (and based on the museum’s website, they appear to have established a multilingual text guide system using QR codes to provide more information for non-Japanese reading visitors. This wasn’t available when I visited over a year ago.)

IMG_4011IMG_4012IMG_4019IMG_4021IMG_4023IMG_4026IMG_4031IMG_4033IMG_4059IMG_4038IMG_4040IMG_4043IMG_4046IMG_4056IMG_4053

The second floors exhibit is entitled “Human and zoonotic parasites”, which focuses on infectious diseases that are transmitted between species from animals to humans. Based on what I could glean from the limited signage and the pictures, the displays highlight how various diseases are transmitted from animals to humans, for example, either from eating the animals containing the parasites or from the being bitten by the parasites that are on the animals. (The displays appear to be super fascinating and filled with facts, and I’m quite interested in the subject matter, but unfortunately, my lack of understanding of the Japanese language didn’t allow me to fully appreciate all there was to see.) In addition, visitors can view specimens of these infectious disease-causing parasites. The exhibit also contains a small section that highlights Japan’s advances in the field of parasitology.

My usual travel buddies and I spent only about 30 minutes at the museum as we don’t have a grasp of Japanese, but I imagine for those who can read the language, they may spend a lot more time since the museum is info-packed.But as always, it really depends on one’s interests and how much one wants to get out of the visit. Since admission to the museum is free, it would be a fun visit for anyone who is in the area, just to look at all the parasite specimens. But as mentioned many times in this post, there’s limited English signage(well, when I went there wasn’t much, but maybe the new text guide will help), so some people may not enjoy their visit due to lack of translations. Also, leave the kids at home, unless they like looking at cases of specimens, as there isn’t all that much to keep the kids engaged. Anyone interested in parasitology, or parasites or just looking at parasite specimens will enjoy a visit as the museum has a large collection and is filled with information about parasites. Parasites are all around us, and in some cases even inside of us, and where better to look and learn about them than at the world’s first parasitogical museum, the Meguro Parasitological Museum.

Hakone GeoMuseum

Second post this month, would you look at that. I really hope that I can keep this two post a month schedule for a while. But we have to consider that March is the longest month of the year, so I had more time to write a second post. I know that March has the same amount of days as a few other months, but March just feels like it lasts forever. Now back to my Japan trip, after Takayama, my travel companions and I headed to Kanazawa, but we didn’t visit any museums there. Next stop was Tokyo, but we did a little side trip to Hakone first…

Hakone GeoMuseum, located in Hakone, Japan
(箱根ジオミュージアム)

IMG_3783

The Hakone GeoMuseum is open year round from 9am to 4pm, although they maybe closed due to the weather. The museum is comprised of two sections, one that is free admission and the other ‘s admission cost is 100JPY, which is slightly less than 1USD. Visitors can see the free section first and decide if they would like to pay to see the rest of the museum. Walking to the museum used to be possible, but the trails leading to the museum are closed to due to volcanic gases, as the museum sits within area that is an active volcanic zone. As such, driving and public transportation are the best ways to reach the museum. If visitors choose to drive to the museum, there is a parking lot nearby and it costs 520JPY, approximately 5USD, to park the car for the day. Public transportation is the other option, if one doesn’t have access to a car or does not want to drive. There’s two ways to reach the museum via public transportation at Odawara station, the station where all visitors must make a transfer: the first is the simpler and faster way, catch a bus at Odawara station that goes straight to the museum, or the second way, which sounds more complex and is a bit more time consuming, but is more exciting as one gets to experience various modes of transports, is to take the rail from Odawara station, then transfer to a cable car at Gora station and finally take the ropeway at Sounzan station to reach the museum. The museum is located at the Owakudani stop, which is famous for its black eggs, made by boiling in the natural steam water in the area, so definitely try those, as it’s believed that eating one will add five to seven years to one’s lifespan. Other things to do in the area that require a bit more transportation is the Hakone Open Air Museum and the Hakone Art Museum, or just sight see around the Hakone area if it’s a nice day.

IMG_3787IMG_3789IMG_3796IMG_3793IMG_3805IMG_3809IMG_3812IMG_3815IMG_3818

The Hakone GeoMuseum is comprised of two sections, as mentioned earlier, the free area is the “Information Zone” and the paid section is the “Geo-Hall”. The “Information Zone” is also separated into two sections, the “Entrance Zone” and the “Promenade Zone”. If you choose to visit only the free section, you’ll move from one section to the other directly, but if you choose to visit the paid area, you traverse through the “Entrance Zone”, then the paid area and finally the “Promenade Zone”, as to not have to back track (which is what I did and how the pictures will be posted).  The “Entrance Zone” is one room that contains a small information area and the place to buy tickets, in addition to a few exhibits that provide information on the volcanic gas at Owakudani and disaster prevention measures. (I forgot to take some pictures for this section.) The “Geo-Hall” exhibit is made up of a “Prologue” and then the main “Geo-Hall”. The “Prologue” part focuses on the Hakone area, and the threats and hazards of living near a volcano. This section also places special focus on the 2015 eruption of the Hakone volcano, providing visitors a glimpse of the event through a detailed timeline with images.

IMG_3820IMG_3823IMG_3832IMG_3831IMG_3838IMG_3841IMG_3842IMG_3845IMG_3848IMG_3849IMG_3851IMG_3863IMG_3868IMG_3866IMG_3873

The main exhibit, “Geo-Hall”, is separated into seven smaller sections. Five of the sections focuses on the surrounding areas including Owakudani,  Lake Ashinoko, Sengokuhara, Hakone Onsen, and Mount Kanmurigatake and Mount Kamiyama. Another section provides information about the general threats and hazards of volcanoes. Visitors can learn about the history of the Hakone volcano and the different methods used to detect any changes in volcanoes that may signify impending volcanic activity. In addition, visitors can see various volcanic rock specimens and learn about how these specimens were formed. The last section is a special exhibition called “Recommendation of Owakudani from museum staff”, which as the name implies points to special areas of interest that visitors should go see when in the area, for example, trying to get a glimpse of Mount Fuji from the area or trying the area’s famous black eggs. The last area is the free “Promenade Zone”, where visitors can learn about the Hakone Geopark and Japanese Geopark network.

My usual travel partner and I spent about 30 minutes to visit the whole museum, but as usual, other visitors maybe take more or less time depending on their interest and whether they want to visit the whole museum or just the free section. The admission price is very affordable, so it’s a good idea to visit the whole museum to get a better understand of what is happening in the surrounding area. The museum is well worth the admission price as there is plenty to see and do inside, and there’s enough English signage for most visitors to understand what is being presented. The museum is a good place to visit for families with kids as the admission isn’t too steep to bring the  whole family, and everyone will be entertained as there is plenty of activities for children to engage with and enough information presented to keep adults interested. Anyone interested in volcanoes and geology will fancy a visit. Owakudani is located on an active volcano and the surrounding scenery is like an alien world, so lace up those sneakers and learn more about the wonders of volcanoes at the Hakone GeoMuseum.

Takayama Museum of History and Art

Hello, I’m still here. I traveled near the end of the month, last month. With February being a short month and me being a procrastinator, it’s not unexpected that I didn’t post anything. However, I’m back now and will work harder than ever to catch up with my backlog. So back to Japan we go… When I visited Takayama, it was raining, so I got to visit two museums, so here’s the second…

Takayama Museum of History and Art, located in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
(飛騨高山まちの博物館)

IMG_3685

The Takayama Museum of History and Art is open year round from 9am to 7pm, although they maybe occasionally closed. Admission to the museum is free. The museum is accessible via walking, driving and public transportation. If you’re already in Takayama, then the best way to reach the museum is by walking as Takayama isn’t all that big, so most places can be reached on foot. If you prefer driving, it’s definitely an option, as there is parking nearby, but I’m not sure if it’s free or not. As for public transportation, there is a bus stop right by the museum. Take the Machinami bus and get off at the Museum bus stop, M21, to reach the museum. Other interesting places to visit nearby include the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall and the Kusakabe Folk Museum for those who don’t want to wander off too far. For those who don’t mind going further, check out the Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village and Hida Folk Village, which are both on the other side of Takayama.

The Takayama Museum of History and Art is a  small complex of interconnected buildings that were originally the storehouses of two wealthy merchant families, the Yajimas and the Nagatas. Within these buildings, are 15 different exhibits housed on two floors. (The buildings are connected via hallways, so you don’t have to venture outside to reach the various exhibits.) The exhibits are labelled from 1 to 15 on the museum floor guide and at the museum, so it can be inferred that there’s a set route to see the exhibits, in chronological order. However one is free to explore as they please (but an exhibit will lead to the next exhibit in chronological order, so if you do want to skip around, you’ll have to double back). The museum has a no photography policy, so there’s no other photos in this post.

Since the museum has a suggested viewing route, my travel companion and I followed it and started with the exhibit #1, which is “Welcome to the Museum”. This exhibit gives visitors a brief overview of Takayama as a castle town, the culture of the local region, and the history of the museum. The next exhibit is “Takayama Festival”, which focuses on the bi-annual festival that the town is famous for and the floats that appear in the festival. The third exhibit is “Takayama Machinami and Hida Carpentary”. Visitors can learn about Hida carpentry, a highly regarded skill that has been passed down through the generations, and see models of old private houses, known as machinami, that display the region’s famed woodwork skill. The last chronological exhibit on the first floor is “History of Takayama as a Castle Town”. This exhibit explores the history of Takayama, starting with the founding of Takayama to its eventual rule under the shogunate to the present. Visitors can learn about the different lifestyles of the townsfolk throughout different periods of time, see various artifacts, such as clothing, paintings, weapons and maps of the town.

First exhibit on the second floor is “Lord Kanamori’s Family History”, which focuses on the Kanamori family, who are the founders of Takayama, and their subsequent rule over the area for the following 100 years. The following exhibit appears to be a rotating exhibit that highlights folk events. When I visited, there was documentary about the making of pickles for the winter. Next is “Traditional Events”, which highlights Takayama’s various annual  events. Visitors can see different types of costumes, dolls and talismans on display that are used during the festivities. “Takayama Artwork” is the following exhibit, however it was closed when I visited, so I didn’t get to see any Takayama artwork. “Religion in Takayama” is an interesting exhibit that focuses on Enku’s Buddhas. Enku was a Buddhist monk who traveled throughout Eastern Japan and carved tens of thousands of wooden Buddhas during his priestly training, which he gave away as payment  for temple lodgings or as comfort items to those in mourning. As such, the exhibit has many carved Buddhas on display, some of which are still objects of worship, in addition to displaying some documents relating to Enku. “Life and Culture” displays a variety of artifacts relating to the local life of the people of Takayama, such as household goods and equipment. Last of the permanent exhibits on the second floor is ” Academics and Literature”, where visitors can view books and paintings that are of significance to Takayama and the surrounding region. In addition to all the permanent exhibits, the second floor contains a temporary exhibit. When I visited, the temporary exhibit was “The Kanamori Family”, which is now no longer on view. Whereas the permanent exhibit focused solely on the Kanamori’s connections to Takayama, the temporary emphasized their contributions to Japan as a whole.

Returning to first floor, “Massive Fires and Disaster Prevention” introduces visitors to the history of fire fighting and disaster prevention in Takayama. Due to the closeness of the buildings, Takayama frequently experienced large scale fires, thus fire fighter teams were formed. Visitors can see the uniforms and tools used by these early fire fighting teams. “Local Traditional Crafts” highlights the traditional crafts found in the Hida region, such as Hida Shunkei Lacquerware, Yew wood carvings, and Hida Ceramics. Last, but not least is “Takayama’s Economic History”, which focuses on the various industries that contribute to Takayama’s economy.

My usual travel buddy and I spent about  1.5 hours at the museum, but as always, other visitors may take more or less time depending on their interest. (The museum suggests about 2 hours to see all the exhibitions, which I think is a better estimate than my own 1.5 hours. I arrived kinda late to the museum, so I had to rush through some of the exhibits to make sure I saw everything, especially towards the end when it was near closing time.) The museum is free and has so much to see that it’s a really good option for anyone to visit to learn more about Takayama. However, it may not be an ideal choice for families with younger children, as there isn’t much to engage them (but they do have stamp stations in several of the rooms; stamp collecting is quite popular in Japan.) Anyone interested in learning more about Takayama or its history or general history will want to take a visit as it’s brimming with artifacts and information. Takayama is known as the “Little Kyoto of Hida” with its traditional buildings and rustic atmosphere, and where better to learn more about this charming city’s local history and culture than at the Takayama Museum of History and Art.

Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village

Just made it in time for January. I really want to post more this year cause I have quite a backlog, and I’m going on vacation soon, so I’ll have even more. Hopefully I can work out a schedule and motivate myself to stick with it. Anyways, continuing on in Japan. My travel buddies and I visited Takayama, aka “Little Kyoto of Hida”.  We were only there for a day and it rained the whole time, so we didn’t see much of the city, only a few museums…

Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village, located in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
(飛騨高山テディベアエコビレッジ)

IMG_3683

Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village is open 10am to 6pm daily from April to December; from mid-January to mid-March, they have irregular hours and may be occasionally closed, so it’s best to contact them prior to visiting during the winter. Admission to the museum is 600JPY, which translates to roughly 5.5USD. The museum is accessible via car, walking and public transportation. If you happen to have a car in Takayama, you can easily Google your way there, and it appears that they have a few spots for parking in front of the museum. (Not sure if there’s a fee or not, as I didn’t have a car.) As always, you can walk anywhere as long as there’s a road to take; the museum is about a 30 minute walk from the Takayama JR train station. Last, but not least is public transportation. Takayama’s bus center is right by the train station, so take the Sarubobo bus and get off at Hida-no Sato-shita to reach the museum. Bonus, if it’s  weather permitting, you can always rent a bike and bike there, as biking is quite popular in Japan. To make it a day out, you can visit Hida Folk Village and/or the Hida Takayama Museum of Art, since they are both close by, or you can head to the other side of Takayama to explore the other museums there or just explore the rest of the city.

IMG_3432IMG_3438IMG_3444IMG_3448IMG_3451IMG_3453IMG_3458IMG_3462IMG_3470IMG_3477IMG_3485IMG_3495IMG_3499IMG_3521IMG_3531IMG_3539IMG_3557IMG_3563IMG_3572IMG_3574IMG_3581IMG_3594IMG_3603IMG_3607IMG_3612IMG_3618IMG_3671

The Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village houses a collection of 1000 teddy bears in a renovated gassho-zukuri traditional farmhouse. The collection includes bears from throughout the world and through out various times. The museum introduces visitors to the long history of teddy bears by starting at the beginning with a brief display about their namesake, Theodore Roosevelt, followed by the evolution of the teddies starting with bears from the 1920s to modern day teddies. Throughout the museum, the teddy bears are dressed up in various outfits and placed in different settings, highlighting different professions, such as baker bears, fishing bears, etc.  The museum places special focus on the bears placed in environmental settings to help raise awareness about environmental issues, such as bears doing various recycling acts to help promote Earth-friendly habits. In addition, the museum contains a media room and library where visitors can find more resources to care for the Earth.

There appeared to be a special exhibit when I visited, it was called “Fantasy”. The bears were placed in fairy tale like settings or dressed as mystical creatures to invoke the fantasy element. The exhibit ended in April 2018 (a tad too late to be of use to anybody, however they may be hosting other special exhibits now.) The museum offers plenty of photo-op moments, you can pose with various different displays of teddies, including several that are as tall as an adult and one that is large enough to take up a whole corner of the room. Most of the signage is in Japanese (so some of the information above is inferred as I can’t read Japanese), however there are some English translations sprinkled throughout.

My usual travel buddies and I spent about 1 hour at the museum, but as always, others may spend more or less time depending on their interests. (I’m a big teddy bear enthusiast, so when I saw the teddy bear museum, I purposely planned a stop in Takayama for it and I had a great time.) The Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village is probably a good idea for a family day trip as children enjoy stuffed animals, but it’s probably best for slightly older children who understand that they can’t take one of the bears home at the end of the day. It’s also a good place to go with friends who enjoy cute things, as the teddies are charming, and who want to be more environment-friendly, as the museum puts emphasis on the environmental theme. Anyone interested in teddy bears and/or their history will want to take a visit as there’s plenty to see. So grab your friends and family to enjoy a day of adorable teddy bears who deliver meaningful environmental messages at the Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village.

Museum of Kyoto

Happy early 2019, everyone! I hope I get a chance to travel more this year. When I visited Japan last year, I traveled throughout the country, thinking I would only go there once, so the next stop was Kyoto. Kyoto is amazing and the place to go temple-hopping, which I did. However, I still found time for a museum…

Museum of Kyoto, located in Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

IMG_3198

The Museum of Kyoto is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 7:30pm; the special exhibits are open everyday the museum is open, from 10am to 6pm, except on Fridays, when the special exhibits are open till 7:30pm. Admission to the museum is 500JPY, which is roughly 4.5USD; there’s an extra charge for the special exhibits. The museum is accessible via walking, driving and public transportation. As with most destinations, walking is always an option, it just depends on how long and how far one is able and willing to walk. Driving to the museum is another option, as they do have parking available, however there’s a fee of 400JPY per hour, and the museum’s parking lot can only accommodate about 30 ordinary-sized vehicles at a time. The third option to reach the museum is via public transportation. Kyoto has a large public transportation system, consisting of buses, subways and rails, however they may not always be conveniently connected to each other and are often owned by different operators, which means no free transfers. Regardless of the mode of public transportation, there is at least one bus, subway and rail stop within a 15 minute walk of the Museum of Kyoto, as its rather centrally located. Nijo Castle and the Nishiki Market are close by to the museum if one is in the mood to see some of Kyoto’s attractions, but if one wants to continue exploring museums, the Kyoto International Manga Museum is a stone’s throw away.

The Museum of Kyoto is a six story building according to the museum floor plan, but most visitors will not be going beyond the fourth floor as the fifth and sixth floors are gallery spaces for rent. The museum typically has one special exhibit on view for about two months that encompasses both the third and fourth floors. (I didn’t see the special exhibit when I visited as I went rather late to the museum, and the admission was almost three times the regular admission price.) Also on the third film is the film theater, where a selected film relating to Kyoto is on view. Depending on the film, there may or may not be English subtitles (I also skipped this because of the time constraint.)

The second floor of the museum is where the exhibits included in the general admissions are located. There are three exhibits are on view: Kyoto history, Kyoto festival, and Kyoto art works and culture.  Kyoto history is the only permanent exhibit  and it highlights the history of Kyoto from its founding in the 8th century to the 20th century. The exhibit is rather small and contains a limited amount of English. Kyoto Festival is a rotating exhibit that focuses on the festivals in Kyoto, especially the Gion Festival that is held annually in Kyoto. When I visited, the exhibit focused on the Hakuga-yama, which is one of the floats that is featured in the festival. This particular float is based on an anecdote from ancient China where a famous koto, oriental harp, player severed the strings of his instrument upon hearing the news of his friend’s death. On view were the various accessories that adorn the float. Last, but not least is the Kyoto art works and culture exhibit, which is also a rotating exhibit and features local artwork based on a theme. There was an additional fee to see this exhibit, so naturally I skipped it too. There’s no other photos in this post because I was unsure about the photograph policy (I’m still not sure, but scouring the web yields almost next to no pictures, so I’m thinking there’s a no photo policy.)

So funny story, I actually missed everything that was located on the first floor, which includes the shops, restaurants, and the Annex Hall, which was the building for the former Bank of Japan, Kyoto Branch, and a designated cultural property. Everything on the first floor is admission free, so if one wanted to only go shop, eat and see the Annex Hall, one could do so without seeing the other floors. Looking back, I realized how I missed the Annex Hall and everything else; the museum has three entrances, one through the Annex Hall (as pictured above), another side entrance to the shops, and the main entrance leading to the rest of the museum. I somehow made it to the main entrance and paid for admission to the museum. However because it was quite close to their closing time, I was in quite a hurry to finish before they closed and I didn’t want to venture into empty areas, as there weren’t that many visitors around, and become that rude tourist.

My usual travel buddy and I spent about 30 minutes visiting the two exhibits that were included in the general admission, however if one was to see everything on the first floor, I’d imagine another half hour would be sufficient, bringing it to an hour or so. As for the special exhibits and film, one will have to allocate more time depending on interests. The admission may seem quite hefty for some because there’s really only two exhibits to see and there’s not much information, but I thought it was decently priced because I got to see cultural artifacts that I might not see anywhere else. (I’ve also paid more to see even less at some museums.) Anyone interested in history, Kyoto history and Japan will want to take a visit to the museum. Families with small children may want to skip the museum as there isn’t much to engage them. Kyoto is famous for its temples, gardens and imperial palaces, but why not take some time to see where it all began at the Museum of Kyoto.