Mibu (壬生) is a rather boring and mostly unremarkable town in Tochigi prefecture. It’s known for its wholly mediocre medical school and university hospital – Dokkyo. If you’re sick, don’t bother going there, if you can, skip to the next town over – Shimotsuke City and get yourself treated at Jichiidai instead. Jichi Medical School is where the smart kids go. At Dokkyo, on the other hand, the incompetence of doctors and students is legendary.
But where were we? Ah yes, Mibu.
The other thing that Mibu is known for, at least in some circles, is the Bandai Museum. Yep, Bandai, as in - that company that makes toy models and a whole bunch of other thingies that geeks love.
The museum has been moved to a new building very recently and sadly, gone is the G-style café, gone is the interactive Gundam exhibit, and gone are many other things.
Instead, there are four different sections:
- world toys (vintage toys, quite fun to look at, actually)
- Japanese toys
- Hobby museum (Gundam) - a short video of this section at the end of the post.
- and the Edison exhibit (oddly enough, that was the section I enjoyed the most).
There is a large play area for the kids, a very limited museum store (nothing interesting in there) and a row of vending machines (in lieu of the cafe, I suppose).
I do hope that more exhibits will appear in the near future, because right now, the entry fee is just not worth it. At least not for me. Though I suppose it all depends on how much of a Gundam (or Bandai) fan you happen to be.
Normal ticket prices are 1000 yen for adults (highway robbery for what you get to see inside) and 600 yen for kids. This week, because of the grand re-opening, entry fees were slashed in half.
What else? The staff speaks surprisingly decent English (and by “decent” I mean “can converse with you on a wide variety of topics, including the historic city of Cracow in Poland”- yeah, no kidding!), the parking lot is huge, inside there are plenty of places for tired parents to sit down, and there are plenty of activities for kids. Because that’s why you go there – to amuse the sprogs.
That the museum is targeting the mommy and daddy crowd and not the geeks is very clear from the get go. The place is very family friendly and obviously designed with kids in mind. There’s even a breastfeeding room for mothers.
Video from the Gundam room. No clue who the gaijin is, he just happened to be there:
All in all, it was an OK place to visit, but will we go there again? Nah, probably not. Once was enough. And we don't have kids.
More pics from the museum are on our other blog - Tochigi Daily Photo.