By JJ Walsh
The building in which this museum resides was originally constructed as a cannery of Ujina Army Provisions Depot in 1911. In April of 1985 the building became designated as an important cultural asset of Hiroshima City, just as the Ebayama Meteorological Museum was in 2000, because it is one of Hiroshima's few remaining western-style buildings of the Meiji Era (1868-1912). In the upper part of the entrance hall a piece of steel that was bent from the force of the atomic bomb blast is still evident.
Unfortunately, everything in this museum is written only in Japanese so if you don't read Japanese this may not be a very informative activity for you. However, there are plenty of little dioramas and examples of the produce from the area so it is possible to work out a little of what went on by sticking your nose into one of the miniatures or following the diagrams. I'm personally a big fan of miniatures so they kept me entertained but I think children and some people with no Japanese may not find this museum all that interesting. Without stopping to pause and read anything, I was in and out very quickly.
The museum has a number of permanent exhibitions about oyster farming, rice farming, Japanese umbrella construction and Geta footwear production. There is a library just inside the lobby where people can come and conduct research into the history of the area and a hands-on room at the end of the building where farming tools can be tried out. There is also a small sample brick wall with toy bricks where you can try your hand at block laying. There are also large jigsaw blocks for kids to form a picture of the bomb dome or of the museum itself.
The permanent exhibition room is the main room of this museum and is dominated by a large boat that sits right in the center, being sailed by two scarily realistic dummies. I almost jumped out of my skin at the sight of one. There are stairs allowing you to walk up onto the boat and view the inside.
Overall, I would advise people with no Japanese to prepare yourself to be in and out of this museum very quickly, and those with little interest in history to give it a miss. Although it is interesting to see the historical tools and produce of the area, without being able to read any of the information, a tour of the museum takes no time at all. Children may not find it interesting, especially if they also have no Japanese, and although there is a hands-on room to keep them entertained it's small and there is not much in there.
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Originally from Ireland I came to Hiroshima for a year to teach English in elementary schools throughout the city. I blog about Hiroshima and my various escapades at http://japan-by-ciara.blogspot.jp/ When I'm not teaching, blogging or adventuring I can be found in an arcade posing in a purikura booth or playing the drum game, at home watching anime or hunched over my Japanese books trying to soak up the language.