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Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Tower Wax Museum's Progressive Rock Room

Unlikely place for krautrock legends to hang out. 

Sorry, Tokyo Tower Wax Museum's Progressive Rock Room is permanently closed.

Straddled between the legs of the Tokyo Tower is the family-friendly entertainment zone known as “Foot Town.” On the third floor of this building sits the Tokyo Tower Wax Museum, home to the world’s finest progressive rock wax museum.

Upon entering the museum, it appears to be a rather innocuous way for tourists to kill time and shed some yen while waiting for an elevator ride up the tower. The usual waxen personas - world leaders, movie stars, Mother Theresa, and Princess Di - are all here. But as you make your way through the exhibit, past the Last Supper, and the entrance to the torture room (where a sign reads “The Torture Never Stops”), you’ll come upon a narrow hallway lined on all sides with vintage concert posters for various progressive and psychedelic rock bands. Follow this straight into the “Inventions for Electric Guitar” room.

In this room, Frank Zappa looks on bemusedly, hands in his coat pockets, standing watch over a vast collection of prog rock posters, cassettes, and LPs (Camel, anyone?) as heroes of progressive rock wail and pose. You can balance beside Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson as he plays his flute perched on one leg. Tony Iommi (didn’t he already have wax finger tips?) leans up against Keith Emerson. And isn’t that Robert Fripp over there, patiently hashing out odd time signatures and electronically addled virtuosity in wax?

Off to one side of the room (almost saying, “You guys are too weird”) a small nook labeled “German Progressive” immortalizes kosmische musik, better, if unfortunately, known as krautrock, an experimental form of progressive music that had its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. Ash Ra Tempel’s music plays over the speakers as musicians from the glory days of the Krautrock stand behind glass.

It’s certainly a bit esoteric. Mani Neumeir (of Guru Guru) enshrined in a wax museum - how many know, or care, who that is? But there he is, in all his waxen glory, as are members of Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, and Faust. Rumor has it that the owner is a huge German progressive fan and that much of the memorabilia is from his personal collection.

And if staring at wax sculptures of obscure German prog-rockers makes you start itching for motorik beats and Neu! bootlegs, then you are in luck - the museum gift shop is one stop Krautrock shop. The only thing missing is Kraftwerk in life size “Man Machine” mode. But that might be too perfect.

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