Shibamata Toy Museum

Playing with nostalgia in downtown Tokyo

By Sleiman Azizi    - 2 min read

For those longing wistfully for the past, Shibamata is the perfect place to indulge in rose-coloured memories of yesteryear.

A haven for nostalgia, Shibamata is situated along Tokyo's eastern edge with Chiba Prefecture and is an easy one or two-hour escape from Tokyo's mega-metropolitan neon crush. A shopping street that oozes charm and a museum dedicated to the famous TV series, Otoko wa Tsurai yo (It's Tough Being a Man), Shibamata is a definite throwback to days gone by. You can go even further back too with the famous Taishakuten Temple and the Yagiri no Watashi that echos a time when crossing the nearby Edo River required more muscle than motor power.

Perhaps the most surreal of all of Shibamata's nostalgic-driven places is the Shibamata Toy Museum. Now, calling this place a museum may be overstating things just a tad. And yet, if a museum is record of the past, then the name is just perfect. Actually a cheap candy store filled to the brim with sweets for the kids who crowd its first floor, it's the second floor that hits home for the more senior of visitors.

Buying a ticket from the first floor, you head outside for the stairs that take you to the building's namesake upstairs. If the retro pinball machines and arcade-style mechanical games downstairs didn't hit you with a dose of yesterday, then this second floor will.

The museum is clearly a labour of love and with it opened only on weekends and public holidays, you are not going to find masses of people here. But if you are ever going to experience what triggers the memories of so many Japanese, then the Shibamata Toy Museum is just the place to do it.

Getting there

The museum is only a short stroll from Shibamata Station on the Keisei Kanamachi Line.

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Sleiman Azizi

Sleiman Azizi @sleiman.azizi

A Japanese Permanent Resident, I drool over proper soba and sushi while Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me.With over 100 published articles on Japan as well as 5 English language books written in a traditional Japanese style, I also happen enjoy writing. Funny that...I'm also the Regional Partner for Tokyo, Japan's never ending capital, so if you've anything to say about Tokyo - or Japan in general - don't be shy and contact with me via sleiman.azizi@japantravel.com

Join the discussion

Elena Lisina 2 months ago
That place would be interesting to visit as I used to have big doll collection displayed at the museum. When I read such materials, always wish I had more nd more time I could spend in Japan!
Elena Lisina 2 months ago
For sure!!! : )
Kim B 2 months ago
I love the retro feel and the way they made the vending machine look like a robot - very clever!
Kim B a month ago
I'm a huge fan of those metal signs, too. I've picked up a few at shrine sales and other flea market type events - they are fun decor!
Elizabeth S 2 months ago
A trip to Shibamata isn’t complete until you visit the candy shop and the toy museum. I’ve spent a few hundred yen coins playing the pinball machines there, and always pick up some retro candy for Japanese friends.
Sleiman Azizi Author 2 months ago
Looking forward to getting back there soon. I love the aesthetics. Just the ticket for a blast from the past.