Emperor Hirohito’s reign (the Shōwa Era) was one of the most tumultuous in Japanese history. It began with Japan’s slow descent into fascism, and went through the devastation of World War II and nuclear bombing before going through the economic miracle that would make Japan one of the most powerful countries on Earth.
In Takayama’s Shōwa-kan Museum, pop culture trinkets from the more than 60-year period are arranged into a free-flowing experience, with something to appeal to every niche and interest. There is barely a blank space anywhere in the building, as each part is used to its fullest. Yet the museum never feels slapped together. A veritable town with stores, shady silhouettes, and sounds can be explored any which way.
You can enter what resembles a 1950s barber shop with Japanese radio blaring out long-forgotten songs to the phantom guests. Nearby, an authentic 1950s Japanese car teases with its invitation to enter. You can gawk and smirk at the cheesy television shows of times gone by, with Astro Boy playing as proudly as it did all those decades ago.
For cinema buffs, a 1960s-style theater plays old Godzilla films behind a curtain. For gamers, the old NES classics are given their own room for a younger generation to experience. Posters of everything from daily kitchen appliances to wrestling showdowns plaster the walls. A working karaoke machine plays the songs of times gone by.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adult admission is 800 yen.