I am coming to the end of my series of posts about visiting Tokyo – and now I am coming to the most important part, if you are travelling with small kids… places that you have to visit include the Tokyo Toy Museum (TTM). It is such a cool place, and don’t get mislead by the name museum: it is a place where babies and toddlers can play with toys, mainly handcrafted wooden toys, for as long as they want.
This is not a museum you will find in many guidebooks (maybe you’ll find theTokyo Fire Museum in there, which is close by). Chances are you will never accidentally stumble upon it either, as it is tucked away in an old elementary school in a side street of the quiet Yotsuya San-Chome neighbourhood.
I had to read several blog posts and descriptions, to figure out how to get there – I basically followed the signs to the Yotsuya Fire Museum, walked past it towards the West for two more streets (passed the JAL Hotel) and turned right into a quiet street. At that point I noticed several mums with babies and toddlers walking into the same direction, and I guessed I was on the right way, which I was!
See the picture below, this is the small street that you have to enter and walk along for 5 minutes to reach the old school building:
The Tokyo Toy Museum has three floors to explore, with age-appropriate rooms. Most of the rooms are interactive, with different themes. The friendly staff will show you how the play with the toys – and they might not speak much English, but it does not matter. It is easy to understand how the toys operate, and it is fun to see how the staff engages with your baby, toddler or even my dad – one of the younger guys had plenty of fun playing table football against my dad!
You start at the first level and walk past the shop (leave this to the end, they have great toys here). The first room showcases wooden toys given top marks for child development (rotated from shelves to the circular play area). This was more interesting for me, than for Lina – she could not wait to go into the large scale play area known as the Wood Toy Forest at the end of the first floor.
Lina was 16 months when she fully explored this room – and she loved the ball pit and the little wooden city (hard to explain but there are wooden worms that you have to discover, pull our and put them back in – very fun for her). This room is great if your little one can stand up and walk, as there is also a tree house in the centre of the room, which is a great lookout place for the little ones.
Downstairs in the basement is only one room – the wooden baby room. It is specially designed for babies aged 0-2 and Lina had a great time here, when she was around 9 months.
Plenty of wooden pull and shape toys, bright scarfs, wooden slide sand tunnels – and the small pit in the middle of the room makes for great explorations. There are, of course, changing and nursing facilities in that room.
Upstairs are the rooms for 3 years and up – we visited them with Lina, but she only picked up a few wooden marbles and let them run on the marble slide, most of the other toys were too complicated for her.
Still, she had fun in the red room, which was filled with traditional Japanese toys. Great chance to get hands-on learning of cup-and-ball, beanbags and spinning tops.
There is also a Toy Factory, which looks like a great craft room. They do have classes each day for a few hundred yen; ages vary per project. There are over 10,000 toys in the museum, and only a few are tucked away on shelves – mainly the classic, old Japanese toys that are too fragile to be played with.
So now about the most important part: Where is the Tokyo Toy Museum, when does it open and how much does it cost?
Address: Yotsuya Hiroba, 4-20 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00 – 16:00 (last admission at 15:30) Closed on Thursday (also closed over the New Yearʼ s holidays and special holidays in February and September). We stayed between 2-4 hours, that’s how much we enjoy this place – the only downside is that there is no lunch option. But you can just leave, eat close by and come back again
Tickets: Adults 700 yen (junior high school and above), children 500 yen (age 3 through elementary school), child + adult pair ticket 1,000 yen, 2 years and younger are free.
Access: 7 min walk from Yotsuya-sanchome Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line, 8 min walk from Akebonobashi Station on the Shinjuku Subway Line
Website: http://www.goodtoy.org/ttm/ (Japanese only)
English info: http://www.goodtoy.org/ttm/pdf/ttm_pamphlet_e.pdf