New Wonders for Kids, Nostalgia for Adults, Fun for All at Warabekan (Tottori)

If you couldn't tell by now, I am a huge fan of Tottori Prefecture, located in the southwestern portion of Honshu.  The small capital of Tottori City is a fantastic contrast to the hustle and bustle of the major metropolitan areas, and I recommend it for anyone looking for a broad array of experiences, sights, and activities.  It is also great for families, but my wife and I enjoyed it thoroughly even before our children were here to join us for the adventure.  Nevertheless, we expect to take them back as soon as they are old enough to ride the camels, play in the sand dunes, and visit one of my favorite museums in all of Japan...

Warabekan

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Warabekan means "Children's Museum," but the core idea is that the museum creators wanted a museum that would bring out the children in us all.  As such, they have different exhibits that do just that. 

You start out the tour with a step back in time to postwar Japan.  On display are toys from my childhood and many from yours, too, I'm sure, since they have toys from around the world, as well.  For me, it was awesome to see Mazinger Z, Gundam, Dragonball, Supaidaman (the mecha version from the 80s show), Ultraman, and many others.  They even have old video game consoles on display like the Nintendo Famicon, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast, etc. (kids these days don't know how good they have it with PS4s and Xbox 360s, do they!?).  Many of the toys are behind glass, but the museum brings out enough of them for interactive experiences, which was especially cool for the older mechanical toys popular during the 50s and 60s in Japan.

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After that, you can catch a glimpse of what childrens' lives would have been like in Japan in "Showa Era," which is technically the period between 1926 and 1989, but in pop culture terms refers to the period between the end of WWII and 1970s (when the economic boom really took root).  

You can see what an old toy store would have looked like...

Or how an old Japanese classroom would have been set up...

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After that, the Warabekan offers a series of interactive exhibits geared more towards children.  There are a number of learning toys available for kids to enjoy, as well as a massive interactive instrument/dance area where children can play along with characters in the exhibit.  

The best part about the Warabekan, like most of Tottori, is that outside of peak holiday seasons like Golden Week, it is not crowded and allows you the freedom to enjoy yourself at leisure.  That alone is increasingly difficult to find in Japan these days!

Admission to the Warabekan is 500 yen for adults, and free for Junior High Students and younger.  It is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, closed only on New Years and the 3rd Wednesday of each month (if Wednesday is a holiday, the next day is closed).  It is located at  3-202, Nishimachi, Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture, but if you're taking public transport, just jump on the 100 yen Green Kururi Loop Bus from JR Tottori Station for about a 7 minute ride straight to Warabekan bus stop.  Easy!
 

So there you have it...

...a place that will provide nostalgia for adults, new wonders for children, and fun for all.  If you are in Tottori (and you should definitely go, if you are looking for a fun experience outside of the major cities!), I say zehi, stop by the Warabekan and have some fun!

Mike B