5 War Museums and Libraries Located in Tokyo Suburbs
After the World War II in Japan, many weapons and facilities owned by Japanese military forces during the war were discarded.
For this reason the weapons produced in Japan during the war became globally rare and quite limited opportunities are available today to actually see them.
This time I would like to introduce rare facilities that exhibit such wartime relics.
I tried my best to focus on locations around Tokyo so that you can easily drop by them during your trip in Japan.
1. Tokorozawa Aviation Museum
The appearance of the museum is designed in the image of a jet engine and the building contains domestic and foreign airplanes and helicopters including “Kaishiki No.1”, the first military airplane manufactured domestically and flew in Japan.
Many aircrafts allow you to look into the fuselage and cockpit, and you can even sit in the cockpit in some cases.
Flight simulators are also available and you can experience operating an airplane, too.
Access: Tokyo Station -> (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line) -> Ikebukuro Station -> (Seibu Ikebukuro Line by express) ->Tokorozawa Station-> (Seibu Shinjuku Line) ->Koku-koen Station-> 7 minute walk ->Tokorozawa Aviation Museum
Address: 1-13 Namiki, Tokorozawa City, Saitama Prefecture Map
2. Battleship Mikasa Memorial
The battleship started its commission as the flagship of the Japanese Navy in 1902 and it was decommissioned in 1926. It had been maintained as a memorial ship until 1961, when it was restored to the present state.
Actually Mikasa is the only pre-dreadnought battleship that still exists in the world today.
However, it was disarmed following the Washington Naval Treaty (1922) and in reality it is a ship-shaped museum.
You can catch a cruise at the neighboring pier that offers “Yokosuka Gunko Meguri”.
This tour takes you over to the nearby US Navy base and Japan’s Self Defense Force base.
You can look at contemporary battleships up close, such as Aegis ships, aircraft carriers and submarines.
Access: Tokyo Station -> (JR Keihin Tohoku Line) -> Shinaga Station -> (Keikyu Main Line by kaitoku express) -> Yokosuka-Chuo Station -> (15 minute walk) -> Mikasa Park
Address: 82-19 Inaoka-cho, Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture Map
3. Sarushima Island
The island is now maintained as a park where you can swim at the beach and BBQ equipment are available, but it was a Japanese military fortress in the past, complete with batteries.
It became an important location to protect the Tokyo Bay before the World War II and ruins of barracks and gun batteries still remain today.
The buildings have brick walls, which are rarely seen in Japan, and because it is a special facility such as a fortress, its view has a rather unique atmosphere.
In recent years this place has gathered attention as its landscape was used in scenes of the anime “Castle in the Sky” (Laputa). The place has become popular as many anime cosplayers come to take pictures.
Access: Tokyo Station -> (JR Keihin Tohoku Line) -> Shinaga Station -> (Keikyu Main Line by kaitoku express) -> Yokosuka-Chuo Station -> (15 minute walk) -> Mikasa Pier in the Mikasa Park-> (ferry) -> Sarushima Island
Address: 1 Sarushima, Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture Map
4. Yushukan Museum in Yasukuni Shrine
Yushukan is a museum built within the shrine compound.
It opened in 1882 as a facility to honor those who died in the war and to display weapons and war relics in the past.
Its exhibition ranges from Japanese swords and medieval armors that had been originally stored at the Yasukuni Shrine to the modern weapons used in the last world war.
Especially the collection of weapons used in world wars is extensive and this place is perhaps the biggest war museum in Japan.
Access: Tokyo Station -> (JR Chuo Line) -> Ochanomizu Station -> (JR Sobu Line) -> Iidabashi Station -> (12 minute walk) -> Yasukuni Shrine
Address: 3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Map
5. Yamato Museum (Maritime Museum in Kure City)
Kure Maritime Museum is not in the Tokyo suburbs, and it is close to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park that President Obama visited in May 2016. But you may have a chance to drop by during your trip, so I decided to include it as an extra.
This museum features Battleship Yamato, the best and mightiest of Japanese Navy during the WWII, thus it is famous with its nickname of Yamato Museum.
The museum exhibits a model of Battleship Yamato at one-tenth size of the actual ship and other display includes the main gun barrel and anchor of Battleship Mutsu and various navy weapons used back then.
The sister museum “Yamato Gallery Zero” is located in the shopping district around Kure Station, the nearest railroad station.
Reiji Matsumoto is the author of anime “Space Battleship Yamato” (1974), which made the Battleship Yamato a household lexicon in Japan, and the gallery exhibits his works and collections.
Celebrating his achievement, he was appointed as honorary Director of the Yamato Museum.
Access: Haneda Airport -> (by air) -> Hiroshima Airport -> (by bus) -> Hiroshima Station -> (JR Kure Line) -> Kure Station -> (walk) -> Yamato Museum
Address: 5-20 Takaramachi, Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture Map
Japan is a country that fought to the end of the World War II, and these facilities will show you a side of Japan that is different from today’s modern Japan or traditional Japan that cherished the spirit of harmony.