I love Japanese Museums. They are so interesting and interactive. It feels that the Japanese go out of their way to ensure that if there is anything that could appeal to children then they ensure that it is.
Tokorozawa Aviation museum is no exception.
We took the 1st Tokyo Cubs and Beavers out to the museum as part of their Air Activities badge work. It was fascinating.
The museum was built in 1993 on the site where Tokorozawa airfield used to be. Tokorozawa is known as the birthplace of Japanese aviation and so it was most fitting to to have an aviation museum there. Read more about its history here. It’s building looks like an old hanger and has a variety of areas. The area defined as the Runway and Apron exhibits many aeroplanes and helicopters, a few of which the children were able to climb aboard, with the particular highlight in that area being the Cessna T310Q as the children could climb aboard and pretend to fly the plane.
The Laboratory housed the principles of flying and explained how the various planes and helicopters are able to fly. We all found it fascinating learning about how the wings help to hold up a plane, using balls as examples.
The Hangar housed the history of aviation, aviation heritage and space development. It was here that the older (read taller) children got ‘stuck’. The museum had a space walker- a seat attached to an arm which helped the passenger feel the various types of gravity.
There were also two screens to help assist in the feel of walking on the moon or Jupiter or jumping in the sky. It was clearly the favourite for the children, but it had a 110cm height restriction, so not all of the children were able to enjoy it.
That said, upstairs housed the Control Tower- showing how air traffic control and navigation worked, and The Sky- where there were a variety of flight simulators, so the shorter children (and grown up children) still had an opportunity to enjoy themselves.
Some of us stayed on for lunch at the Ecotoco Farmers Cafe. The food was typically Japanese fare, simple yet tasty. Unfortunately the choices were very limited for the one cub who is a coeliac. She landed up having rice and salad for lunch- not the most exciting meal for a 9 year old!
My family stayed on after lunch and enjoyed Koku koen- the park that the museum is housed in. ‘K’ says the highlight for her was just having the freedom to be able to just play.
We were very blessed with a glorious winters day that didn’t require coats, so it just added to the relaxed feeling of the day.
Mild weather and the cries of happy children being …children.
At a cost of ¥510 for an adult and ¥100 for a school aged child to enter the museum, ¥820 and ¥310 if you wish to see the IMAX movie* too, it is a great-value-for-money trip and one that I would highly recommend.
* We didn’t see the movie as we were told it was all in Japanese.
By car: From the Tokorozawa exit on the Kan-etsu Expressway, take the 463 towards Tokorozawa City for about 6km. There is parking available, but by the time we left, there were queues for the parking.
(It took us an hour to drive from Shibuya area.)
By train: Take the Seibu Shinjuku train to Koku-Koen station. Take the east exit and walk for about 8 minutes.
I would recommend taking the express trains. My fellow leader came through from Shibuya station is just over an hour on an express train.