The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum in the Naramachi district of Nara is a fun, free museum dedicated to the ingenious wooden toys of the Edo Period. The museum is situated in an old machiya townhouse that was previously a restaurant. The building dates from 1890 that was restored in 2012. The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum is operated by a local NPO.
17th and 18th century Japanese kids didn't have smartphones and Pokemon Go so entertained themselves with a number of hand-made, mechanical automata (karakuri) that have been reproduced by a history professor at Nara University and are on display inside this traditional house.
As well as the wooden toys on display that you are encouraged to play with by the friendly volunteer staff. the museum also displays original drawings, illustrations and wood block prints (ukiyo-e) of various games from Edo times.
There are around 600 exhibits on show at the museum and visitors can handle about 30 of them. The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum also holds regular events and workshops where participants can learn how to make their own wooden toys. These are a lot of fun! The next free events are on the weekend of August 6-7 from 10am-4pm.
At the back of the tatami-floored museum is a small garden you can take a look at from the inside of the building. The garden is planted with seasonal plants such as camellia, plum, cherry, rhododendron and hydrangea.
Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum (Official site in Japanese)
7, Inyocho, Nara 630-8338
Tel: 0742 26 5656
Hours: 9am-5pm; closed Wednesday
The museum is about 10 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Nara Station.
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