A small section of Ome city, near Ome station, is nicknamed a Showa Retro town. You can't miss it with the colorful large hand painted movie billboards marking the spot. There are two very small Showa museums in the area. There used to be a third museum, and it was the most popular of the three, dedicated to Tensai Bakabon and the work of Fujio Akatsuka. Regrettably, it closed its doors permanently earlier this year.
The Showa period was between 1926 and 1989. For some of that period, Ome had three independent cinemas. A local man, who went by the name of Bankan, hand painted hundreds of billboards over the years for the cinemas. Years later, after the Showa era had ended, he was asked to paint more billboards, this time to advertise the shops in an effort to increase tourism in the area. There are supposedly more than 100 billboards in the Ome Showa Town.
Ome Showa Town
The Showa Goods Retro Museum has a "Breakfast at Tiffany's" hand painted billboard out front. There are several hand painted billboards of both Japanese and foreign movies in the area. The bus stop by the Showa Goods Retro Museum very cleverly brandishes a billboard from the 1956 movie "Bus Stop" with Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray. Apart from movie depictions, there are also billboards from popular TV programs such as Mito Komon. Several household and daily goods from the period are displayed. Since I came to Japan in 2000, the public phones have always been green, but in the museum you can see that they were once red. They have paraphernalia from overseas, not just things made in or unique to Japan.
Across the road from the Showa Retro Goods Museum is an even smaller museum, the Showa Gento Kan. It showcases diorama from the Showa period, all of which have miniature cat people in them. To be honest, you could be in and out of Showa Gento Kan in five minutes, but coupled with a visit to the retro museum and / or touring the billboards of the town offers a glimpse of Showa period life. You can pick up a map with the billboard's locations at the station.
By public transport: The area is located close to Ome Line's Ome station.
By car: The nearest interchange is the Ome Interchange on the Ken-o expressway. There is no official parking, but you can get discounted parking at a car park west of the Showa Retro Goods Museum. There is a more convenient car park opposite the museum, but there is no discount for this car park.
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Lynda has been in Japan for 20 years and blogging about Saitama on her personal blog insaitama.com for 14 of them. Despite its central location, just North of Tokyo, Saitama is still quite unknown to the international tourist, but frequented by domestic travelers. It is a great place to experience some off-the-international-tourist-trail locations and meet with locals and national tourists. I hope to introduce a taste of what there is to do and see in my articles on Japan Travel and help you with your Saitama travel planning. Be sure to stop by my website where you will find 600 things to do in Saitama and 400 active events!