The wooden chapel is all set with white gauzy streamers covering the walls and baskets of flowers placed around the room. The bride and groom are in their wedding finery, stony-faced and silent. But far from being awkward, the cuddly couple elicits an “aww” from people who see them. This teddy bear couple is part of a 1,000-doll collection at the Japanese teddy bear museum.
Officially named the Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village, the teddy bear museum is located in a 200-year-old gassho-zukuri traditional farmhouse on the outskirts of the city of Takayama. It is home to furry toys from all over the world, including an Austrian teddy named Franz who is over 100 years old.
The museum is designed to illustrate the long history of teddy bears, and has them placed in different settings and dressed up in different costumes: smokey bears, support bears, pirate bears, baker bears, fishing bears, to name a few. If this were an actual village, it would be completely self-sustaining, with teddy bears of nearly any profession under its roof. There’s a special focus on bears placed in environment-related backdrops, aimed at creating awareness about environmental issues.
Located within the museum is a cafe where visitors can dine with even more teddies. The whole place is replete with opportunities for pictures and as you enter, the owners even offer visitors teddy bear ears to wear.