SCHOOL’S OUT: Toy and Stamp Museums of Arima (Kobe, Hyogo)

Arima Toys & Automata Museum.
In Arima Spa Resort, which has more than 1300 years of history, there was plenty of wood and bamboo. So people in Arima made handiwork like “Arima brushes” or “Arima baskets”. And “Kishi-ji” that made wooden bowls by using potter’s wheel lived in Arima. Their skill is very similar to wood turning that appeared 250 years ago in Seiffen, Germany. From these origin and relation, Arima Toys & Automata Museum aims to be the base of making, also taking into consideration “play-time pleasure” and “culture”.

The layout of the floors is as follows.
(6th Floor) –German Traditional Toys-
In the Erzgebirge region, a part of the former east Germany, there are more than 2,000 Toy-making studios. Seiffen, which shares a border with the Czech Republic, is well known as the cradle of the Nutcrackers, the motif of a Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcrackers, Smoking Men, Noah’s ark and animals and other figures are were made by toy masters in Seiffen, Grunhainichen, Olbernhan, Oberammergau, and Berchtes Garden. This floor collects figures created by German toy masters. Earlier, toys produced in Germany represented 30% of the toys in the world, 40% of these in Europe, and 50% of these in Germany. In March 1997, the Toys’ Highway Route was set up connecting production zones and sales areas including Hamburg, Bremen, Hameln, Berlin, Waltershausen, Dresden, Sonneberg, Seiffen, Frankfurt, Coburg, Rotenburg, Nurenberg, Twindorf, Munchen, Oberammergau, and Berchtesgaden.

(5th Floor) –Contemporary Toys-
Many toys are produced then discarded one after another. Some toy artists and companies create special toys that become good friends of children. This floor introduces today’s good toys chosen by Arima Toy & Automata Museum. Children learn about the world through playing. So we believe that toys should be simple for children to play with using their imagination to stimulate their creativity.

(4th Floor) –Modern Automata-
Even children’s toys got as complicated as a black box today. This floor presents modern mechanical toys, so called “Automata”, which have complex mechanisms for movement. The origin of the Japanese mechanical toy is in Hyogo Prefecture. The puppeteers led by Hyakudayu, which propagate the “Yebis” religion, the tragic love story of Yoshitsune and Joruri princess, the shamisen instrument from Ryukyu, and the storyteller Gidayu Takemoto, were unified into the Joruri Puppet Play and then developed on Awaji island in Hyogo.

(3rd Floor) –Tin Toys & Model Trains-
On this floor there are a lot of classic toys made from tin that have been revived today. Tin-Toys originated in the mechanical puppets like the old-fashioned “Tea Serving Robot” or the “Joruri” puppet from the Edo period. Until the 1950’s Japan was the leading manufacturer of tin-toys. This floor has a wide range of tin toys from Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Japan, and shows the history of the tin-toy and its manufacturing process. The most popular exhibition is the railroad model made by the famous maker, Marklin of Germany. It is operated every hour on the hour and attracts many children. The train starts from Baden-Baden and goes to Arima Onsen (Spa).

Open: 9:30 – 18:00
Closed: 2nd & 3rd Tuesdays
Admission: ¥1,000 (Adults & Junior High School Students and up), ¥500(Children)
Access: 5 minutes walk from Arima Onsen Sta. on Kobe Railway 10 minutes walk from Arima Sta. on the Rokko Arima Ropeway 1 minute walk from Arima Onsen stop on the Hankyu Bus line
Address: 797 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe 651-1401, Japan
Tel: 078-903-697


THE PHILATELIC CULTURE MUSEUM (The Postage Stamps Museum) (Arima, Kobe)
The Stamp Culture Museum
When I visited there the special exhibition being held was titled “the Centennial Anniversary concluding the Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty”. A lot of prisoners’ letters and post cards sent from the front of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) were displayed. The exhibiter was Mr. Jiro Ohnishi, Director of the Philateric Culture Center. The regular exhibition hall consists of three parts.
The history of the Japanese postal service from the foundation to the present day.
Examples of postage stamps from the first issued in Japan of Ryuumon (Design: Dragon means Ryuu in Japanese and Face Value Unit: Mon) to the present day in chronological order. Historically excellent foreign choices are also displayed.
A portrait of Mr. Hisoka Maejima, founder of the Japanese Postal Service (painted by Mr. Saburosuke Okada) and his handwritings, the Philatelic Information Materials such as the text of the United Postal Union (UPU) Treaty, the Railroad Line Map and Postal Working goods such as a shoulder box for letters delivery are displayed.

Open: 10:00~16:00 (Entrance closed at 15:30)
Closed: Tuesdays
Admission: Adults: ¥500 / Junior & Senior High School Students: ¥200 / Primary School Students: Free
Access: 8 minute walk from Arima Onsen Station, Kobe Electric Railway
7 minute walk from Arima Onsen Bus Stop, Hankyu Bus
15 minute drive from the Chugoku Highway, Nishimomiya Kita.I.C.
Address: 663-3 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe 651-1401
Tel: 078-904-0024

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