Friday, July 1, 2016

Enjoy Unique Art: Kaiyodo Hobby Museum and Kappa Museum

The unusual outside of the Hobby Museum.
Go out of your way for it! The distant Hobby Museum
   Get in touch with some unique art in this treasure chest of a museum that boasts the world’s largest collection of plastic models, by the world’s most famous designers! You can appreciate the craftsmen’s masterpieces, enjoy your favorite figures, and even make your own dioramas in a special studio. It’s an experience you can’t have anywhere else.

Why put a museum way out here?
   The Kaiyodo Hobby Museum was made out of the renovated gym of the Utsuigawa Elementary School, which closed in 2008. With the cooperation of the local government, this strange museum was born out of the exciting and unheard-of ideas of one man named Osamu Miyawaki in the summer of 2011. Miyawaki, the founder of the worldfamous figure company Kaiyodo, chose Shimanto because of a personal connection to the area.
   At the time we visited in April, there was a special exhibit focused on the popular anime “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” The special exhibit changes three times a year, so beginning in July a new special exhibit featuring “Japanese Mythical Creatures” will open.
   Nationwide there are only two museums with Kaiyodo displays, the Hobby Museum and the Ryoyukan Museum in Shiga Prefecture, so fans come to the Hobby Museum from all over Japan. Over 60 percent of visitors come from outside Kochi Prefecture, including some who come from as far away as South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Manager Sozaki has big plans to attract even more visitors from within and outside Kochi.
The kappas swarm outside the building.
It’s swarming with Kappa! Next up is the “Kappa Museum”
   About 2 km away from the Hobby Museum, you will find the Kaiyodo Kappa Museum. A kappa is a mischievous Japanese mythical creature that lives in rivers and ponds. The building was made by local workers out of Shimanto cedar lumber and red clay. Surrounded by the great outdoors, it blends in perfectly, a skillful representation of the world of kappa.
   Inside the museum, 600 entries from President Osamu Miyawaki’s “Shimanto River Kappa Scultping Grand Prix” competition are on display. There were submissions from total amateurs all the way to professional artists, including a Hollywood art director.
   On the grounds of the museum are many chainsaw-art kappas, looking ready to jump into the nearby Utsui River and swim away.
   As Miyawaki says, “There is a kappa living inside each of Japan’s hundred million people.” Indeed, when you see all of these kappa, kappa of every variety imaginable, it may stir up the kappa who lives in your own imagination.
   The Hobby Museum and the Kappa Museum were both built with the local people’s hopes that they would “inspire new people to gather and invigorate a depopulated area.” We highly recommend taking the time to experience this unique art, which can only be encountered here in Shimanto.
The famous kappa curry.
Out of a charming face, a smile escapes
Kaiyodo Hobby Museum Shimanto ——————————
   Address: 1458-1 Utsuigawa, Takaoka-gun, Shimanto-cho
   Business Hours: 10:00AM~6:00PM (November~February: 5:00PM closing time) *Final admission 30 minutes before closing
   Closed: Tuesdays
   Admission: ¥800 (high school and above), ¥400 (elementary and middle school) (Make-your-own diorama activity: ¥1000, register at the front desk)
   Transportation: 30 minutes by car from the Shimanto Chuo IC. By train, disembark at Utsuigawa Station, a bus is available on Sundays and holidays.
On weekdays, call the museum for a free pick-up from the station.
Kaiyodo Kappa Museum ——————————————
   Address: 685 Utsuigawa, Takaoka-gun, Shimanto-cho
   Business Hours: same as above Closed: same as above
   Admission: ¥500 (high school and above), ¥300 (elementary and middle school) *discounted co-ticket with Hobby Museum ¥1,200 (high school and above), ¥600 (elementary and middle school)
   Transportation: same as above

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