Japanventures: Part 2 – Ikaho Toy, Doll & Car Museum

Japanventures: Part 2 – Ikaho Toy, Doll & Car Museum

by Ashley DeLuca

I’m sure everyone has at some point or another read the Initial D manga, watched the anime on television or at least heard of the infamous panda Trueno.  Car lovers and anime otakus alike have fallen in love with the five hairpin turns on the Akina downhill that are spoken of as a legend in the show.   Is it real?  Is it made up?   Well fortunately for you it’s all real except for the impromptu eurobeat techno music that starts playing as soon as you start driving.  It’s all located on Mount Haruna in the Gunma Prefecture in Japan. 

Nestled up right against the infamous “finish line” of the downhill course is a little town called Ikaho which is known for its naturally high iron content hot springs and spectacular views over Gunma.  It’s also the home of the Chinpokan Penis Museum but that’s a story for a completely different website.  In true crazy Japanese fashion, this is also the location of one of my personal favorite museums: The Toy & Doll Teddybear Confectionery & Chocolate Automobile Museum.  Yes, that is the complete name of the museum listed on the sign outside of the building.  It is also the current home of the Yokota car collection as well as heaps of other car related memorabilia you never knew you needed to know about until you saw it!

 

The museum is owned by Masahiro Yokota, a prominent toy collector that decided to create his own museum to exhibit his extensive collection of toys, dolls and vintage memorabilia in 1994.  As time went on, the museum grew to include an extensive car collection to showcase his love of domestic kyusha automobiles as well as a small café and sweets shop.  This museum is definitely one of a kind and really transports you back in history to a different era where people put passion and time to hand craft toys, dolls and, you got it, automobiles.

From the exterior, the building seems interesting but similar to other onsens or restaurants that dots the entire drive up to the top of the mountain. Once you enter through the front gates and go up to the ticket counter, you realize that this is like no other museum you’ve ever been to.    Kewpie dolls are distributed to color at the end of the self guided tour as well as a map of the craziness that is about to ensue.  The first section of the museum presents a large selection teddy bears and dolls imported from all over the world.  Some are in display cases and some are on perches above the faux forest ambiance.  But as you move deeper into the maze, old arcade games and toys start to make an appearance.

 

Teddy bear lovers and motorcycle enthusiasts rejoice! There really is something for everyone to see at the museum.     
Many of these toys were rescued from houses that were being demolished at the time.  What a great way to preserve a little slice of history by displaying all of the finds in such an eclectic museum!
Vintage car models and loads of figurines and toys are all over the museum.  Like train models?  Instead of showing you just one, you'll get to see at least three or four of the same toy.  Plastic Mickey figures?  Here have twenty!

3 comments

    1. I don’t know if they have a website or an email, but here’s their address and phone number!

      Yokota Kyodo Museum
      474 Shimoyokota
      Okuizumo-cho, Nita-gun
      Shimane Prefecture 699-1822
      Tel: 0854 52 1112

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