By Jeremy Yap
Almost all kids I know share a fascination for emergency vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances. They perk up when they hear them passing by and imitate the distinctive "pi-pa-pi-pa" siren. The Fire Museum has exhibits to engage and interest both kids and adults alike.
Though the main entrance is on the first floor, we worked our way up from the basement which houses some of the most beautiful vintage fire trucks used in the 1920's when motor fire engines were introduced. Though the majestic trucks were standing still, their shiny bright red bodies somehow pulsated with the energy of firefighting missions of the past.
At the first floor main entrance, visitors can meet the mascot "Fire-kun" and see the France-made fire helicopter.
The third floor is probably the most fun floor for kids as this is where all the interactive stuff happens. Kids can watch how the fire department responds to an emergency fire situation through a huge diorama with lights, sounds, moving pieces and videos. And then they can dress up as fire fighters and sit up front on an actual fire truck (or at least a portion of the truck) and press a button to set off the sirens. A model living room with interactive buttons instructs visitors on the various hazards around the house and provides suggestions on how to childproof hazards. There is an enclosed booth to watch a selection of cartoons on fire fighting and I was pleasantly surprised to see that these were also available in English. A smaller diorama of a sample community allows visitors to "drive" a fire truck remotely (through the use of buttons) to try to get the fire truck to its destination. My kids' absolute favorite part of this floor though was the helicopter -- they sat up front in the cockpit and the huge video screen simulated a flight of a fire helicopter on a rescue mission.
The exhibits on the fourth and the fifth floors are probably more of interest to adults as they display the changes in history of the fire service. I particularly enjoyed vivid and detailed diorama of fire fighting in the Edo period on the fifth floor. The displays helped me appreciate the progress we have achieved over the years to create a safer society.
The Observation Room on the 10th floor is a nice place to eat your bento. On a clear day, visitors can enjoy a view of Mt. Fuji.
The Fire Museum also has a fire service and disaster library on the 7th floor.
Located at Yotsuya, the nearest station is Yotsuya-Sanchome Station on the Marounouchi Line (there is direct access to the museum from the subway). Open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Monday, and from December 28 - January 4.
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For Sherilyn Siy, Asia is home. Born in Hong Kong, Sherilyn spent time in the Philippines, China, and now lives in Japan. She speaks English, Filipino, Chinese (or putonghua), and Hokkien, her family's local dialect. Running is one of her favorite ways to explore Japan. She proudly finished the 2015 Tokyo Marathon -- her first ever full marathon -- in 4 hours and 37 minutes. She was absolutely psyched when she got selected again to run the new Tokyo Marathon route in 2018. She hopes to complete other races in Japan.