Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Nostalgic & Not Far from Tokyo, Find a Manga Museum, Factory Nightscapes, and Japanese Tradition in Kawasaki City's Tama Ward

Famous as a destination for fascinatingly beautiful nighttime views, Kawasaki City (川崎市) is half-an-hour or less from Tokyo. The city's Tama Ward is especially fun for a little retro-style travel, with a museum celebrating long-beloved manga Doraemon's creator, parks featuring traditional Japanese architecture, and plenty of spots to fill up a day... or three!

The Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum

The Kawasaki City Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum (AKA Nihon Minka-en), is a lovely place for a refreshing walk, and a tour of more than 25 traditional Japanese homes (called kominka, 古民家) from all over the country - precious cultural resources, all found in the Tama Ward.

Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum (日本民家園, Nihon Minka-en)
Address: 7-11 Masugata, Tama-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Access by Train: From Shinjuku Station it takes 22 min. on the Odakyu Line to get to Mukogaoka-Yuen Station, and another 13 minutes walking from the station's south exit.
Access by Bus: From Mukogaoka-Yuen Station south exit bus stop, take either the "た83" or "溝19" bus to Ikuta Ryokuchi Iriguchi bus stop.
Hours: Mar to Oct 9:30 - 17:00 / Nov to Feb 9:30 - 16:30
Closed: Mondays (except for public holidays, when the museum will close the next day instead)/Dec 29 to Jan 3
Admission: General 500 yen / High School, University Students 300 yen / Seniors (65+) 300 yen / Children Free
Official Website (en)

Not only can you stroll the spacious grounds and see the well-preserved houses up close, but the museum also offers opportunities to experience little bits of the traditional Japanese lifestyle!

25 Different Japanese Folk Houses, All in One Place

You could describe all the traditional Japanese houses in this open-air museum with the one word, "kominka," but thanks to the varying eras, locations, and environments where they were built, each of them is unique and different. Just looking carefully can teach you a lot about how people once lived in Japan! And heading inside the museum's main exhibition area, which contains a diorama showing miniatures of all the folk houses, gives you a way to identify all the subtle differences.

Aside from the museum's traditional residences, though, they've got buildings like this very old theatrical stage, mostly used for Kabuki performances.

Built right into the stage floor is this area called the "naraku" (奈落), where full sets of 8 grown men were needed to turn sections of the stage and complete scene changes. Stage crew have always had it rough! (The naraku space is not currently open to the public.)

A Chance to Try Indigo Dyeing, Artisanal Japanese Style

The museum's Dentou-Kougeikan (traditional craft building) hosts crafty workshops, and visitors can pay to try out aizome (藍染), Japanese indigo fabric dyeing. Learn the art from a pro, dye some silk, cotton, or linen, and go home with a brand new handkerchief or scarf!

The most important part of the workshop comes before the dye touches the fabric, when participants use thread, rubber bands, and marbles to block off areas that won't come in contact with the dye, making for some unique patterns and color variegation.

Then, of course, the dye goes into the indigo dye bath! After being submerged, it's wrung out and exposed to the air, a process repeated 3 or 4 times.

After the dye has finally soaked into the fabric, the excess pigment is rinsed out, and a unique new design is revealed! You might want to wash your new accessory a couple more times before letting it rub against any skin, though, lest you turn blue.

Aizome Indigo Dye Workshop
Workshop Time Slots: 10:00~ / 13:00~ / 14:30~
Time Required: 1 to 1½ hours
Fee: Handkerchiefs 700 yen / Bandanas 880 yen
Official Page (en)

The Fujiko・F・Fujio Museum, in Kawasaki City


If you grew up loving the work of Fujiko·F·Fujio (famous for iconic manga and anime Doraemon), this museum gives you a chance to enjoy the art in a variety of ways, from original illustrations, to reading spaces, a cafe, and a gift shop.


Feel the nostalgia with the retro manga panel surroundings.


And take a peek at what the Fujiko·F·Fujio workspace was like.


Then head to the second floor for the Manga Corner, plus a "slightly mysterious experience."


And meet with some old friends outside on the museum grounds! Don't miss the chance to take a commemorative shot with Doraemon on the roof!


The cute meals and seasonal menu of The Museum Cafe on the third floor is worth a look.


And the rooftop Museum Gift Shop (called "藤子屋", or Fujikoya, in Japanese) offers a whole collection of special Doraemon goods, including some of his favorite dorayaki pancakes.


Inside these cute cans are some pretty charming marshmallows, printed with 8 unique designs. You can pick some up when you visit the Fujiko·F·Fujio Museum for some cartoon nostalgia!

Fujiko·F·Fujio Museum
Address: 2-8-1 Nagao, Tama-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Access: From the Odakyu Line Noborito Station, take a bus bound for the Fujiko·F·Fujio Museum, or walk 16 minutes from Mukogaoka-Yuen Station.
Hours: 10:00 - 18:00
Admission: Adults 1,000 yen / Middle & High Schoolers 700 yen / Children 4+ 500 yen / Younger Children Free
Official Website (en)

Check the bus schedule if you're thinking of following this itinerary and going from the Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum to the Fujiko·F·Fujio Museum. You may or may not be able to catch a bus bound for Noborito Station, which goes between the open-air museum and the Fujiko·F·Fujio Museum 4 times a day!

Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum ➤ Fujiko·F·Fujio Museum Bus Schedule
Weekdays: 10:57 / 12:42 / 14:28 / 16:38
Weekends: 10:38 / 12:58 / 14:48 / 16:36
(Bus does not run on days when the Fujiko·F·Fujio Museum is closed.)

The Industrial Nightscapes of Kawasaki City

Thanks in part to its location right on Tokyo Bay, Kawasaki City includes a district packed full of factories, many of which stay brightly lit and active 24/7, 365. After the sun sets, these factories turn the area from a boring industrial sector, to a magically futuristic light show shining on the bay waters, known across Japan.

Like many industrial areas, it's a little apart from the center of the city, which means that the best places to see this view are either accessible via bus, or visible right from the water (on a cruise boat)!

The boat offers some great angles, and it also includes a comfortable space inside where you can sit down and snack with friends (no alcohol allowed for safety reasons, though). Grab tickets before the day you want to go right here (same day tickets unavailable), then just take the shuttle bus outside of Kawasaki Station to head over.

Cruise Details
Schedules & Reservations (en)
Fee: Adults (Middle School Students and older) 4,000 yen / Elementary School Students 3,000 yen
(Credit card payment options available when making reservations.)
Meeting Point: In front of the Kawasaki Station east exit Nikko Hotel.
Meeting Time: Mar to Sep 18:20 / Oct to Feb 17:20

If the cruise isn't what you're looking for, take a bus over to the completely free Kawasaki Marien observation deck to get a view from up high.

Kawasaki Marien Observation Deck
38-1 Higashiogishima, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Access: From Kawasaki Station's bus stop #12, take the "川07" bus to Daiwa Corporation Mae bus stop, and walk an additional 10 minutes.

Or stroll along the deck in Higashi-Ogishima East Park for a glittering, romantic view of the factories across the water.

Higashi-Ogishima East Park
58-1 Higashiogishima, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Access: From Kawasaki Station's bus stop #12, take the "川05" bus to Higashi-Ogishima East Park bus stop.

To get a closer look, you'll want to check out the Kawasaki Konbinado Chidoricho Yard, wher it looks like you might have just walked into a futuristic sci-fi mech anime. A photographer favorite!

Kawasaki Konbinado Chidoricho Yard
14-14 Chidoricho, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Access: From Kawasaki Station's bus stop #12, take the "川04" bus to Shiei Futo bus stop.

Don't Miss Out on a Fantastic Day in Kawasaki!

While each of Kawasaki City's 7 wards has something unique to offer, the Tama Ward offers so much old-fashioned fun, we had to tell you all about it! The city has plenty more to see, so come back soon for more on Kawasaki!

Been to Kawasaki, or heading there soon? Let us know all about your experience on twitter, instagram, and facebook!


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