Category Archives: museum

Japan’s 007 Museum in Naoshima

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The 23rd James Bond is out and again is not set in Naoshima. Naoshima is a small Japanese island between Honshu and Shikoku and is known for its art museums. One museum is dedicated to the James Bond novel “The Man with the Red Tattoo” by Robert Benson. Naoshima officials are still hoping for a movie adaption.

The museum is located near the Miyanoura Ferry Terminal, the main arrival points for passengers coming from Uno Port. It’s just one big room with no staff on site so it doesn’t claim to be an expansive James Bond museum. Most of the exhibits are indeed dedicated to the novel which is set partially in Naoshima, while the rest are mostly from the movie “You Only Live Twice”. An object called “Heartbreak” which is featured in the novel can be seen as well as notes and photos collected by Benson.

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The latter is of course the only James Bond movie so far set in Japan. It’s one of my favorite ones too, because I like that Bond stays in one country for most of the story. In “The Man with the Red Tattoo” Bond reunites with his Japanese friend and chief of secret service “Tiger” Tanaka.

The main reason for a visit should be the 007 tribute “From Naoshima with Love” though… Read the rest of this entry

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Shiroi Koibito Park: Chocolate Museum and Factory

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Chocolate (or cocoa) is produced since thousands of years. It has been used in religious events, as a currency and even a medicine. Early cultures in South America called it the food of god. While considerably shorter, chocolate has a history in Japan too. Ishiya is a Sapporo-based chocolate company famous for Shiroi Koibito (White Lover), a butter cookie with white chocolate in between. The Shiroi Koibito Park is the place where you can learn more about the history of chocolate, make your own cookies and take a look at the Ishiya factory. There’s actually even more to see there.

There’s not much to do during Winter outside (the park). One booth was open and selling drinks. You can take pictures of the seasonal decoration and illumination. Access to the park and the Ishiya shop is free. The actual museum and factory costs 600 Yen and includes a Shiroi Koibito Passport (in Japanese) and one cookie. If you like to save money, eat the cookie in safe distance from the chocolate factory!

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The first stop is the Aurora Fountain, built by a British company in 1870. A few exhibits are shown around the fountain, more can be seen in the second part of the factory walk.

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This second part shows you cups from the 18th to early 19th century which were used to drink chocolate. Elaborate designs and the famous Meissen porcelain can be seen and show how much richer people appreciated their chocolate. A gallery displays the packaging labels.

Visitors continue to the time tunnel and the chocolate factory. Read the rest of this entry

TEPCO Electric Energy Museum

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Energy companies along with financial institutes and insure companies have probably a worse public image. TEPCO is no exception – especially after the earthquake and the subsequent nuclear disaster. Before TEPCO achieved notoriety, they had a few energy museums. One of them was in the middle of Shibuya, the TEPCO Electric Energy Museum (Denryokukan 電力館).

There are multiple energy companies in Japan but there is no competition between them since they have a monopoly on certain areas. After the earthquake there were accusations that some politicians and media organizations are too close to TEPCO and other energy companies. That’s of course not specific to Japan but since Japan is threatened by earthquakes and tsunamis and is highly reliant on nuclear energy, there should be more independent control over the energy companies and how they handle security.

TEPCO Electric museum 1

But back in 2008, everything was still fine in the TEPCO world and the TEPCO Electric Energy Museum welcomed all visitors. Read the rest of this entry

Mokin Museum in Insadong, Seoul

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A visit to the Mokin Museum in Insadong, Seoul is the perfect complement to the Chicken Art Museum. Mokins are wooden figures used to decorate funeral carriages. If you read my previous post on the Chicken Museum, wooden chicken figures were used on the carriage as well. It was believed that chickens can guide the dead to the next world so that they won’t get lost.

There are a lot more animals that decorate the carriages as well as plants and fictional beings. The Mokin Museum has a massive collection (5000 pieces) of them but since it’s a small museum can only display a very small part of it.

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The museum is located in Insadong. Opposite the Jogyesa Temple is a Buddhist culture and information center. Right next to the center is a small street where the museum is located. There are two Italian restaurants in that street one of which is Palazzo Due which is next to the museum. On the basement floor of the museum is a two-part gallery which doesn’t exhibit wooden figures. The actual museum is in the floor above, take the steps and pay at the counter (5000 Won).

Now you can see the figures! Read the rest of this entry

A visit to the Seoul Museum of History

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When I first visited Seoul, I more or less aimlessly wandered around and somehow reached the Seoul Museum of History but didn’t go inside it. If you know your way around, you can cover many museums and other attractions on foot. Both Insadong (traditional houses) and Myeongdong (shopping) are within walking distance.

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The Seoul Museum of History is about the development of South Korea’s capital. 1/4 of all Koreans are now living in Seoul. Just 60 years ago, there were only 1.5 million people living in the city, now it’s over 10 million. Entrance to the museum is free, photographing is permitted unless you use a flash and tripod. The museum is closed on Mondays. During weekdays it’s open from 9am to 9pm.

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The museum’s exhibits were about the early and contemporary development of Seoul, leaving out the Japanese occupation period. Most exhibits are explained in Korean and English at least. Old documents dating from the Joseon period, lacquerware, cooking utensils and clothing are on display. There are some hands-on pieces as well. Read the rest of this entry

Museum of Chicken Art in Seoul

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One of the strangest museums I’ve come across so far in Seoul is the Museum of Chicken Art. I don’t doubt that Koreans appreciate chickens – especially as part of BBQ, but apparently the animal plays a huge role in Korean traditions. The Museum of Chicken Art is located in Bukchon Hanok Village which is a collection of traditional Korean houses located about ten minutes from Anguk Station (exit 2).
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The museum has two floors and is quite small. Entrance is 3000 won and an older man will explain the exhibits in English, especially the second floor which is solely about the role of chickens in Korea (food excluded). Chickens were seen as the only animal in the Chinese zodiac system able to fly and thus they would guide dead people to the next world. The chicken is a symbol of fertility and wealth and is able to exorcise evil spirits.

The first floor is about crafts from all over the world: a huge German beer mug, Town Musicians of Bremen, Noah’s ark and many more chicken were featured at that time I visited the museum. The exhibition on the first floor changes from time to time. Read the rest of this entry

Camera Museum in Gwacheon near Seoul

Camera Museum

I had visited Seoul Grand Park (which is actually not in Seoul, but in nearby Gwacheon) and I wanted to go to the art museum afterwards – unfortunately the shuttle bus service was interrupted. Good thing that there was a newly opened camera museum to keep me entertained.

Camera Museum

Camera history is fascinating. Many of these older cameras are well built, sturdy pieces of technology. Of course it’s not a museum for small 110 film cameras or cheap Russian and Chinese cameras such as the Lomo LC-A.

Camera Museum

Fascinated by the recent Fujifilm 3D camera, I was surprised how many 3D cameras were made, like the Kodak Stereo Camera above. The museum isn’t a hands-on museum, although there were a couple of cameras in the underground floor. Read the rest of this entry

Ghibli Museum in Mitaka

Ghibli Museum

The Ghibli Museum has long been on my list of places I wanted to visit and a few rainy days seemed to be the perfect opportunity for a visit. I’m a big fan of the Ghibli movies and have seen the recently released Arrietty as well. Tickets for the museum are sold through convenience stores. I bought one for the earliest available date and time slot. There are three time slots and I bought my ticket for Wednesday on Sunday.

The way to the museum is signed out both in Japanese and in English and if you go on a sunny day, nearby Inokashira Park and the Inokashira Zoo are worth a visit as well.

The museum contains a history of both the Ghibli movies and the previous works of Hayao Miyazaki. There are lots of drawings made for the film and explanation of animation techniques. Children can play in the cat bus. The Saturn Theater inside the museum was showing Hoshi wo Katta Hi, a story about a boy harvesting a planet. There is a cafe and a shop where I bought some film slides and the cat from Arrietty.

Inside, photographing is not permitted, so photos usually show the giant robot from Laputa. More photos after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry

Tokorozawa Aviation Museum

Tokorozawa Aviation Museum
Cloudy weather today, so I visited a museum in the West of Tokyo: Tokorozawa Aviation Museum. Tokorozawa played an important role in the development of Japanese aviation technologies. It was in 1911 when the first airfield was built in Tokorozawa and flight practices were held. The old airfield is now the Aviation Park and the museum, which was opened to the public in 1993, is apart of it.

Tokorozawa Aviation Museum

The museum contains an IMAX theatre, restaurant, shop, simulators and planes, of course. Workshops are held every 2nd and 4th Saturday, participants learn how to make and fly model airplanes.

Some of the planes are outside the museum. The museum isn’t very large, there’s no space in the main hall for more airplanes, especially not the big one from Air Nippon. Read the rest of this entry

War Museum

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Since I did decide for an evening return flight to Japan, I had some time to kill before going to the Incheon airport. First I went to the War Museum because it was conveniently located on my way to Incheon. Around the museum is park filled with various machines, airplanes etc. mostly from the Korean war. As you can see on the photos, the weather wasn’t that good, and I couldn’t find a coin locker so I didn’t went in.

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The park alone was quite impressive, although one should go into the museum as well to see how many lives were destroyed by these machines. Seoul alone was devastated multiple times due to changing front lines.
Read the rest of this entry