Gunma Prefecture located on the northwest corner of the Kanto Region is a rural area known for its hot springs and safari park. The last thing one would expect to find here is an omocha (toy), ningyo (doll) and classic car museum!
The Omocha to Ningyo Jidosha Hakubutsukan is a private museum hidden in the hills of Gunma. It was the brainchild of Masahiro Yokota, a former carpenter who amassed a large quantity of discarded toys and memorabilia from demolished houses. The museum was opened in 1994 and has been luring visitors down post-war Japanese nostalgia lane ever since.
The first floor of the museum houses countless Showa era toys and posters. Here you will find movie posters, memorabilia and publicity stills for idols from the 1950s through the 1980s. There is also a sizeable teddy bear collection displaying adorable stuffed bears gathered from all over the world. If you are feeling creative, visit the Kewpie Factory where you can make your own original Kewpie doll. For the big kids there is the World of Wine & Beer. As the name indicates, it is a collection of rare and unique bottles of beer and wine from around the world.
The second and third floors comprise the classic car museum. Here you will find such rare vehicles as the 1963 Daihatsu Midget three-wheeler, the 1972 Honda Vamos, the 1938 Datsun 17, the 1972 Skyline 1500 and the 1967 Toyota 2000GT, just to name a few. Many of the cars are from Yokota-san’s private collection as he used to race cars back in the day and collected quite a few vehicles he was fond of.
As you exit the museum, you will encounter Candy Shop Alley where you can find unique candies for sale. The final stop at the Omocha to Ningyo Jidosha Hakubutsukan is Squirrel Garden. It is an area out in the back where you will encounter dozens of chipmunks and red squirrels.
The museum is open daily from 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM (4/25-10/31) and 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM (11/1 – 4/24). Admission is ¥1,080 for adults and ¥860 for junior high and high school students. Children aged 4 years and up (elementary school students) are admitted for ¥430. If your birthday falls on the day of your visit you will be admitted for free.
The museum offers the ideal atmosphere for those that want to relive the memories of the past or simply want to share their childhood memories with their own children. Regardless of your country of origination, you will certainly find something to identify with or relate to at the Omocha to Ningyo Jidosha Hakubutsukan.
Web page: http://www.ikaho-omocha.jp/