In pursuit of a family plan for a weekend or weekday? Time spent in toy stores can be loud and draining on both your wallet and energy. It can be more of an onslaught to your senses than a walk down Ikebukuro’s Sunshine 60 Street. My family and I left all that buzz for a toy museum.
Truly, I felt renewed as our kids scampered around, eager and excited over the toys and the fun of figuring them all out. Yep, Tokyo Toy Museum is pretty neat. All the fun of toys – fantastic quality toys, with none of the potential for whines or tantrums, because they ain’t for sale! The kids saw a whole building to play in, while I noticed the fine craftsmanship, texture, and simple, beautiful engineering that went into the toys.
The toy museum is three floors of greatness and a big playground to kick things off. If you do want to purchase toys, there is actually a gift shop (where you can score some smart gifts for as little as 200 yen), but you could simply tell younger kids it is an extension of the museum. “Nope! No store there, kids!” Luckily no one in our group asked for anything. It was enough to just play.
Tokyo Toy Museum is situated in a former elementary school in Shinjuku-ku. Residents of the ward can get a 200 yen discount off the “passport” (which is only good on weekdays).
Here is the breakdown: 6-month passports for those who think they’d like to come often:
|Adults||2,200 yen (junior high school and up)|
For those preferring to pay at each visit:
|Children||¥500 ※ 2 years old & under are free|
|Adults||¥700 (junior high school and up)|
|Pair of tickets||(A pair of tickets each per adult/children duo) ¥ 1,000|
|Groups||100 yen discount (from 15 persons) per person is available (think birthday parties or outings)|
Did you notice the discount offered for an adult/child pair? Not bad, eh? Buying passports may be a good idea if you don’t live too far away. Exhibits change as do classes, so it seems like enough diversity to keep you and the kiddos enthralled . A cheapo tip is to bring your own onigiri or whatnot and have your food break outside near the playground. If you are part of a group of 15, (paying 100 yen less, per person) you can score a lunch room rental for 700 yen, and enjoy it from 10 am-1 pm.
Tokyo Toy Museum is but a short walk from Yotsuya san-chome station (you’ll know the street if you’ve ever been to the Tokyo Fire Museum). The premises are managed by an NPO, which hosts various groups and events in addition to the Toy Museum. The day we went, there was a massive table tennis tournament going on.
There are more than 10,000 toys in the museum, filling playrooms and hallways. It is all very organised, though, with attendants helping out. Toy curators help children play and explore. The toys and games hail from over 100 countries, so odds are you’ll be quite thankful for an attendant’s introduction to a new game!
Each room has its own nuance, from dimly lit, brown walls to the gorgeously light feeling you get when you have just climbed into a tree house. We all had our favorite rooms – the baby room, filled with wooden pieces, wooden tunnels and gorgeous silken scarves. I loved the “oni” looking foot-shaped stilts just hanging in the hallway waiting to be used. The room of science discovery toys and musical instruments looked and sounded glorious. Wooden xylophones, giant vats of beads for threading your own abacus. It is a Montessori, Waldorf, or Reggio-Emilia dream for anyone in the arts and education world.
For parents of babies, the baby room is a respite – minimalistic and beautiful. Fine toys, cutie babies, caring parents, and winsome attendants fill the space. Friendly workers will present your kids with toys, ask them questions, and interact with great skill. They are not selling anything, just giving the children and parents what they need. There are, of course, changing and nursing facilities in that room.
For older kids, Tokyo Toy Museum offers toy workshops, or classes ranging from wood-building to origami. The price for taking a toy-making class is 1,000 on weekends, but free on weekdays. The weekend option may seem steep, but it was pretty rockin’ seeing my daughter smooth wood with a square of sandpaper for the first time. They are now the proud owners of a toy/wooden tape dispenser with bobbing head. I am inspired for their next creation – on the weekday, with weekday toy crafting prices, thanks.
All in all, you can see how psyched I am over the concept and execution of this museum. Any place that helps you feel like an amazing parent for providing such quality experiences is obviously high in my book. Tokyo Toy Museum could be a perfect birthday party site or playdate/meet-up destination. This is a stellar find for the rainy season, winter/don’t really want to go to a park season/ too hot summer season. And yet, they have that playground, too, if the weather feels agreeable. Just go – it’ll all work out.