Friday, June 22, 2012

Anpanman Museum... It's Not Easy Being Edible

18th August, 2010 - Yokohama's Anpanman Children's Museum and Hall....or perhaps known better as just the Apanman Museum. Now first things first, I suppose I should tell you a little about who Anpanman is, and why the hell he'd have his own museum (let alone, why are we visiting it). 

Anpanman is (if you hadn't guessed it by now) a Japanese children's character that started life back ... well... let's just say he's only slightly younger than myself (only slightly).... anyhow he started life as a picture book and then around 1988 transitioned to the world of moving pictures. And of course, merchandising. But it all started with a funny looking character with a bun for a noggin... not just any bun, but an anpan (which is a small bun filled with anko, which is made by sweet red azuki beans). And indeed, such is the popularity of Anpanman, that he's been shown on tv continuously since it's start. Not bad for a smiling bun boy.

Now... Yokonhama is also where you'll find the Anpanman Museum... though you might not find that high on the list of places you must see in most guide books. For good reason too. Anpanman is a distinctly Japanese phenomenon and they don't really care if he translates across to a broader market or not. Indeed they don't bother even providing non-Japanese information on the web-site. Now having said all of that, if you wanted to experience something very Japanese with your young children, then perhaps it's not a bad idea at all (just prepared to go along with the experience).Now the museum itself is perhaps poorly named... it's half free shopping centre (where you can buy any number of Anpnanman related paraphenalia) or there's the mini theme-park (that's where you're coughing up 1000 ¥ per person... for three floors of fun and games). The first section has a number of diorama's depicting all number of stories... some of which are "animated"....

Because it was bon odori time there was of course a special bon odori scene as well... and we'll return to this a bit later.

But without doubt, it's all about Anpanman... and L-kun was a pretty big Anpanman fan!

But it wasn't just Anpanman... oh no... there was a cast of thousands of characters. Ok... not 1000's, but a Guinness World Record of 768 unique characters....

Of all sorts and sizes... well lets face it, when you've hit 700 the remaining 70 odd must be a real killer to find something to have a character based on .... hey look, it's mister inanimate-rod!

But whilst they go to extremes here, it's nice to see so many different characters of different styles... and as I said, it's distinctly Japanese.... after all, where else would you find Onigiri-man (onigiri = rice ball).

And death never looked so good... ok. no, it's not death catching a ride, but rather Horrorman (yes, that's right). The orange (uni-horned) character is Dokin-chan... his partner in crime. We'll meet their leader in mayhem, Baikin-man later.

Now... it's nice to show this sort of photo. A happy smiling child always makes you feel good. Unfortunately, it had been a long, hot day... and L-kun had also reached the end of his energy (sweated out most likely), so he didn't quite get into it as much as he perhaps wanted to.

But there were lots of things to do... all of course having a very Anpanman slant to them... but the good thing about the museum is that there's always something just around the corner for them to explore in/on/around.

 There's also an open play area where parents and kids can get some rest, or regenerate some energy for the next onslaught (and of course, they can also watch streaming Anpanman videos as well).

There's also craft sessions, where children and parents get to make some of the characters (in this case, Dokin-chan).

And there's also a number of "rides" that children can enjoy (with a little imagination)... looking out...

And looking in...

Though I'm not sure he was taken with the artwork.... everyone's a critic.

Whilst there were a few hands-on activities to keep L-kun busy, he did manage to perk up when we reached the bottom floor with the slides. He's a simple boy at heart.

There are a number of live shows semi-regularly throughout the day in a large auditorium... this one was MC'd by Melonpanna-chan, Anpanman's close friend (and some might say love interest?....)

We awaited the start of the show with much expectation...

Melonpanna has some support from a very enthusiastic staff... and she knew just how to get the children to near exploding point in anticipation of the big man himself....

Anpanman! Oh yeah baby.... work that room. And did he ever... which was good, because otherwise he may have had to resort to his secret weapon. When friends are in need of help, or just hungry, Anpanman will offer his head to be eaten... and I mean, not just a nibble, but a full-on feast. Now that's a friend that gives that little bit extra. It's ok however, as his father Jam Ojisan will often bake him a new head. I sometimes wish I could get a new head baked...

The show itself is largely singing and dancing to an Anpanman theme song - and whilst there wasn't much story involved, the children seemed to love it. Once again, don't expect to have much of an idea of what's going on if you don't know Japanese and aren't familiar with the show.

As mentioned earlier... given that it was bon odori time, there was a special focus to the events... including an impromptu taiko performance. I have to admire the people inside these suits... it was still boiling hot (and I mean boiling), and yet they were running around and having a great time.

I also haven't introduced perhaps the second biggest character in the show... it's Baikin-man, where baikin stands for bacteria.... and Baikin-man is the lord of all germs, and hence Anpanman's arch-nemesis (though there's also a strange friendship there at times as well - perhaps as they represent both sides of the same coin). He's cheeky, clever, and oh so naughty - perhaps why he's so popular with children (and our son).

And of course, it wouldn't be an Anpanman Museum without a whole heap of merchandising opportunities available to you. And I mean lot.

One of the more interesting aspects is the bakery... I mean, isn't there something a little disturbing about eating a Shokupanman (shoku pan = white bread, and he's one of Anpanman's closest friends). He's also very tasty. Damn you Jam Ojisan (on the right below)... why did you create your world of delectable super-heroes?

Overall... it was a long day (and not over yet), and whilst I felt that the museum was a little over-priced for what you got (especially considering the merchandising), and perhaps not the best place to go on a hot day, it was interesting to visit anyhow. And L-kun enjoyed too, in between his heat-exhaustion - and still talks about it to this day.

And did I say there were lots of characters?.... let's just say, there's enough to keep birthdays, Christmases and just about every other Sunday occupied with new presents....
(top left to right: Jam Ojisan, Baikin-man, Tendon-man, Anpanman, Omusubi-man;
bottom left to right: Cheese, Dokin-chan, Shokupan-man, Melonpanna-chan, Curry-panman, Kamadoman)


4-3-1, Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, 220-0012
Tel: 045-227-8855
Open : 10:00 -18:00
Cost : 1000 ¥ per person (over 1 year old) 

How to get there: The easiest way is by taking the Minatomirai / Chinatown Line from Yokohama Station, catch the  (180yen) getting off at Shintakashima Station 新高島駅 and then walking about 550 m (7 mins) to the south.


  1. Looks like it was a lot of fun! :)

    1. It was a lot of fun, but it was also a little disappointing that there weren't more 'focal points' in the museum. Of course, it might be a little different if you're Japanese. We liked the O-bon features however - that was a nice touch.

  2. Wow, I missed this one, somehow. Entertaining and educational, I say !

    1. Michael - it's an interesting place, but best if you have come across Anpanman before - otherwise it's most likely a complete mystery. Although, if you're a fan of Japanese manga/anime culture, it's also a pretty cool place to visit (but best with kids, otherwise you might just look a little odd).