A short walk from the oyster bars' side of Toba Station is the quirky Toba Minato Machi Bunka Kaikan.
The museum is the preserved former residence of local artist and writer Junichi Iwata and displays manuscripts, letters and every day items from the lives of Iwata and his literary friend Edogawa Ranpo. Iwata drew illustrations for Edogawa Ranpo's stories and the two shared the house for a while, when Ranpo was living and working in Toba.
Also on show are photographs dating back to 1936, many featuring the famous women divers (ama) of the area.
The subsequent fame of Edogawa Ranpo (1894-1965), aka Taro Hirai, far outweighs that of his associate Junichi Iwata, and it is the personal effects of the noted mystery writer, including his trademark beret and round glasses, on display at the museum, that attract most interest.
Ranpo was an admirer of western thrillers and mystery tales, especially those of Edgar Allan Poe. Among Ranpo's best known works are: Phantom of the Universe, Phantom of the Circus and Vampire.
Ranpo and Junichi Iwata also collaborated on researching the hidden history of Japanese homosexuality - nanshoku - and Iwata published the book Honcho Nanshoku Ko on the subject.
Iwata (1900-46) died at a young age, only 45, in Tokyo, but the museum is a fitting tribute to an energetic, young artist of the time.
Toba Minato Machi Bunka Kaikan
Tel: 0599 26 3745
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-3pm; Sat-Sun 10am-4.30pm
Walk south from Toba Station past the entrance to the remains of Toba Castle, at the next signal bear right and the museum is on your right.
There are Kinstetsu trains to Toba from Osaka and Nagoya (1 hour, 35 mins) and there are overnight highway buses from Ikebukuro via Kuwana and Tsu to Toba.
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Toba Mie Edogawa Ranpo Junichi Iwata
Wednesday, September 10, 2008