There are many great museums in Sendai. Museums, where you can get to know more
about Japanese history (and Miyagi history in particular), where you can see and even
touch a 10,000 year old tree, where you can learn and have fun - all this is available
here. But there is one museum that I particularly treasure - Sendai City Museum of
History and Folklore. In this article, I will try to explain in a few words what is so
special about this place.
First of all, the building itself is unique. The former barracks of the 4 th infantry
regiment, this is the oldest Western-style building in Miyagi prefecture. It has a very
heroic past - built in 1874, it was first used by the Japanese army, then, after World War
II, the United States Armed Forces took over, and from 1956 it was a police academy.
Quite an interesting professional record for a building. And still the museum looks like
in its’ young days, being restored to its’ year 1904 state.
If you come inside, you will find out, that a part of his army days past is still being kept.
One of the rooms is designated to an exhibition about the life of young men, who
inhabited this building while it was a barrack. How did it look during the World War II?
You can see some simple beds, banners celebrating someone’s joining the army forces,
wartime journals - an atmosphere we cannot imagine now.
And it is just the beginning. The museum holds so many things forgotten, that every
visit reminds of a small time travel. Artifacts telling about everyday life in
Sendai are being presented here, to make us think about our life today and treasure the
things we don’t seem to notice.
Come inside a farmer’s kitchen. Cosy little fireplace with a cattle hanging from the
ceiling, a small black-and- white TV, a baby’s cribble, simple but delicious looking food.
A restored time itself, captured in one room, accessible, but only for a moment.
Or a small penny shop, with all these treasured little things, some of them universal, some
typically Japanese. When I first saw that, I remembered the one I used to shop at when I
was a child in a far-away country. Life became so much better since then, but I still
temember that sence of excitement when I had a chance to buy something there - a treat
or a toy. I would be so glad if someone had preserved this spot as it was.
But the museum is not just a museum. It is a book shop, selling many great books with
illustrations about things past.
It is a library and archive, where you can search for some information about Japanese history and folklore.
And it is a leisure center to visit with your child - they have a playroom with many classic Japanese games to explore! Indeed, this is a place where past becomes a little bit closer.
The museum is opened from 9:00 to 16:45, everyday except Mondays. Until 16th April, you will still be able to see the exhibition dedicated to comparison between then and now - days past and days present.
1-3-7, Gorin, Miyagino-ku, Sendai city