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.