The National Art Center is among the largest art museums of Japan and features only temporary exhibits. At the time of my visit there were nice exhibitions about modern architecture and paintings. The architecture of the museum is very modern and the facade is completely covered with glass panels. Access to the atrium is free and visitors do not have to but tickets for the whole museum but only for the exhibitions that they wish to visit. This museum is a must for those interested in art as it features diverse collections, whether modern or classical, which change over time.
The Hakusan Maru is a newly built sengokubune (a wooden freight ship used for transporting goods). It is on exhibit at the Sengokubune Exhibition Hall close to the village of Shukunegi. The museum’s exhibit explains the construction process which employed the very same traditional methods that were used to build this type of ship in the ancient times.
The Yamate Italian Garden is located on a hill which was known before as the Italian mountain since it was the location of the Italian consulate. Nowadays, the park features a beautiful Italian-style garden and two western-style historical houses that were restored to their original state. These houses used to belong to dignitaries and wealthy foreigners during the Meiji and Showa eras.
The Hikawa Maru is a Japanese ocean liner that was launched in 1929 and was used to transport goods and passengers from Japan to the United-States. Among the many illustrious passengers who stayed on the Hikawa Maru was Charlie Chaplin, who sailed on the Hikawa Maru for his trip around the world. During wartime, the Hikawa Maru was converted into a Hospital ship and in 1953 she was reconverted as a luxurious ocean liner. She finally retired to become a museum in Yokohama in 1961.
The Nippon Maru is a museum ship that is anchored in Yokoyama harbor, right in front of the Yokohama Landmark tower. The Nippon Maru was launched in 1930 and was used for the training of naval officers. Visitors learn about the life of the ship’s crew and get a chance to visit the ship from the deck to the engine room.
Churaumi Aquarium is a major touristic atttaction of the Okinawa island and one of the great aquarium of the world. One can learn about the many lifeforms inhabiting the oceans around Okinawa and the main island of Japan. The highlight is without any doubt the enormous fish tank hosting nothing else than huge whale sharks.
Amateurs of Japanese trains will be satisfied at the SCMaglev and Railway Park, a museum dedicated to Japanese trains. The museum features historical and modern locomotives including a good selection of Shinkansen express trains and the new Maglev currently being developed. An impressive train diorama and train simulators are also popular attractions. Lucky winners of a lottery can test their driving skills in the Shinkansen simulator.
The Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum, located nearby Zenko-ji temple, stages art exhibit from artists of Nagano prefecture. An annex of the museum, the Higashiyama Kaii Gallery, features artworks from Higashiyama Kaii depicting the beautiful scenery of Nagano prefecture (some examples here). Taking photos of the artwork is prohibited, but there was no issues with taking photos of the museum’s modern architecture.
It is somewhat strange to find a museum dedicated to Nikko in the middle of Gifu prefecture but the Sakurayama Nikkokan is definitely worth the visit. The Sakurayama Nikkokan features small-scale (1/10 scale) replicas of the Nikko-Toshogu shrine and other historical sites of Nikko. It took the 33 carpenters a total of 15 years to complete. The replicas are very detailed and give the visitors a different and interesting point of view compared to visiting the sites in person.
The Takayama festival, held in spring and autumn, is one of the most renowned festival in Japan. As part of the celebrations, big Yatai floats are pushed through the streets of Takayama. Although most of the Yatai are stored for the rest of the year, four of them are displayed year round in the Yatai Kaikan museum. Historical life-size figurines are used to recreate festival scenes of the past.