Locating the Tokyo Kite Museum
The Tokyo Kite Museum (Tako-no-Hakubutsukan) is not the easiest place to find. Like many tourist destinations in this vertical city – restaurants, hotels, etc. – the museum is located several stories above the ground floor. In travel guides, it is almost always described in reference to a restaurant housed in the same building: “if you get lost on the street, ask for ‘Taimeiken’.”
But then what? My sister and I located the restaurant without too much trouble, but found no evidence of a museum anywhere. From cryptic signs we discerned that we were meant to enter the elevator. We tried several floors and found nothing but eerie, dark hallways. We abandoned the elevator and tried the stairs. The higher we climbed, the more cluttered the stairs became, to the point that we were sidestepping buckets, mops, and rolls of paper towels. Had we somehow stumbled into a broom closet? Thoroughly confused, we retraced our steps down to the first floor and asked in the restaurant for directions. A waitress led us back into the elevator, pushed a button, and up we rode. We held our breath as the elevator doors slowly opened. There it was – mirabile visu! – a tiny museum saturated in colored paper.
Evidently the museum is located on the 5th floor (hadn’t we tried that one?). I would like to say it’s as easy as entering the elevator and pressing five, but apparently it’s not so simple. In fact other travel bloggers have met similarly befuddling fates, so my advice would be to arrive with an open-mind and abundant patience. I suppose one should always travel with such trappings.
What the museum lacked in scale it made up in kites. Some 3,000 kites of all shapes, sizes, and colors lined every inch of the studio-sized space. The kaleidoscope of patterns and pigments was overwhelming, but once my eyes adjusted I was able to focus on the exquisite details: the wings of a butterfly kite, the sails of a tall-ship, the bold brushstrokes of dark sumi ink bordering soft swaths of reds, pinks, and blues…
Despite its compact size, the Tokyo Kite Museum reminded me of the Louvre: a visitor cannot possibly expect to absorb all the magnificent art in one trip. If I ever manage to locate the museum again, I’ll find plenty more to admire.
Information from the museum’s website,
1-12-10, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Telephone: 03 (3275) 2704
11 am to 5:00 pm
Closed on Sundays and public holidays