Recently Around Tokyo visited Showa-Kan, a great museum for those who want to know about life in Japan before, during and after World War 2.  It really is a delightful place, that shows what life was like in Japan for the civilian population during the years around and during World War II.  Considering that it only costs 300 yen to enter and it has a lot to see inside, it really is worthy of a visit.

The Road to Reconstruction exhibit at Showa-Kan

After purchasing you ticket on the first floor, take the elevator up the seventh floor and enter the museum.  Just remember that even though the museum is concerned with Japan before, during and after World War II, it is not a military museum.  This museum was built to depict the lives of everyday citizens, which it does very well.

What is at Showa-Kan?

The museum does a great job of showing the daily lives of citizens.  The top floor (i.e. seventh floor) shows how people dealt with sending their men off to war, life under government control, how they ate, prepared for war, how they survived the air raids, and the end of the war.  Some of the most interesting displays on this floor show how Japan tackled its lack of natural resources by turning to its population for help.  People donated metal implements such as fry pans and irons, while temples and shrines gave their metal bells for the war effort.  And the museum also tells how the people dealt with their shortages by making do with paper clothes, straw backpacks and wooden iron etc.

Between the sixth and seventh floor is a radio where you`ll be able to hear the Emperor`s speech announcing the end of the war.  The sixth floor tells about the post-war period.  Some of the display depict topics like the lack of resources which was a great problem so many of the aircraft, guns and tanks that were used during the war were scrapped and melted down back into items for civilian use such as fry pans, buckets etc.  Other exhibits show kids at play, bringing back the war dead to Japan, reconstruction of industries and the road to economic prosperity.

Some of the goods that became available during the reconstruction period

Showa-Kan is a very interesting place for anyone with an interest in Japan or its history.  The subject matter is very educational and gives a great insight to a side of Japan that most people didn`t know existed. You can see the site for its English language pamphlet here.

Won`t all the displays be in Japanese?

That is very true, they are.  English signage is very minimal, but don`t let that discourage you from going as Showa-Kan has an audio guide to give you some assistance.  Pick them up from reception as you walk in, and whenever you see a green sign at a display, you know you can use the guide.  Just type in the number of the green sign and put the device to your hear and listen to the narration.  They don`t cover every display, but there will be enough to keep everyone happy.

Opening hours

Showa-Kan is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5:30pm (last entry being at 5pm).  It is closed on Mondays, however if it is a public holiday it will be open and closed the following day.

It is closed over the New Year period from December 28 to January 4 and also on March 31.

How long could you spend at Showa-Kan?

The museum could fill in about an hour during a morning or afternoon very easily.  The other great thing about it is that is you could also squeeze in visits to the Budokan, Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery and the Imperial Palace on the same day as they are very close too.

How much is admission?

General admission is 300 yen.

How to get there?

The easiest way is by one of the subway lines that go to Kudanshita station –

Hanzomon, Toei-Shinjuku or Tozai lines.  Make sure to leave from Exit number 4, and you`ll be right outside the museum.  We have a Google map here to give you a better idea:

View Showa-Kan museum in a larger map

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